It’s hard to deny the talent that UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones possesses.
Through eight fights so far in the Octagon, Jones has managed to put away five of his eight opponents, and his only loss was a disqualification in a fight in was dominating against Matt Hamill.
To win the UFC light heavyweight title, Jones decimated former Pride Grand Prix champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, finishing him with strikes in the third round of their fight back in March.
Since that time, Jones is secure atop the light heavyweight divisional rankings. He has also begun to gain steam as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport. But has the praise been heaped upon Jones’ head a little too early for a fighter just making his first title defense this weekend at UFC 135?
His next opponent Quinton “Rampage” Jackson certainly thinks so. While Jackson admits Jones is a supremely talented fighter, he doesn’t believe he’s done enough to earn some of the accolades that are being showered down on him.
“You’ve got to show Jon respect, he earned his respect, but I think the problem is MMA has a lot of brand new fans. That’s a good thing and it can also be a bad thing in terms of what you’re talking about,” Rampage told MMAWeekly Radio.
“They don’t see Shogun was rusty, he was just coming off an injury. A lot of new fans probably don’t understand that when a fighter takes a year off, coming off of injuries, Jon Jones is a very dangerous opponent for him to come back to.”
Jackson thinks that Rua should have come back to a different kind of fight than to face Jones right off the bat, but as champion his job was to defend the belt and Jones was at the top of the list.
“He probably need to come back and fight somebody that’s, no disrespect to any fighter, but like a Keith Jardine or somebody like that. Honestly, in that weight class, you want to come back and fight somebody like that. You don’t want to come back fighting somebody like Jon Jones, who’s very unorthodox and unpredictable,” Jackson commented.
The biggest problem Rampage sees with Jones receiving so much praise is the lack of talent he’s faced in the light heavyweight division.
“The kid hasn’t fought anybody that’s really tough,” said Jackson. “He’s fought Vladimir Matyushenko, which is tough, but that wasn’t the same Vladimir Matyushenko that just fought his last fight.”
Heading into their fight this weekend, Jackson is confident that Jones won’t be receiving much more of that praise after he loses his light heavyweight title.
But if Jones beats Rampage, the former Pride fighter will gladly give him all the credit he would deserve.
“Me looking at him as a fighter, I don’t think he’s earned that title and stuff yet,” said Jackson. “If he beats me on the 24th, then he’s on his way. He can claim all that, but the guy hasn’t defended his belt yet. I think they should wait a little bit before they jump on his jock too much.”