UFC light heavyweight champion has been nothing if not impressive… and that’s probably an understatement.
After rocketing to a 12-1 record, with his only slip being a disqualification loss to Matt Hamill, and crushing the likes of Brandon Vera, Vladimir Matyushenko, and Ryan Bader consecutively, Jones found himself in a title fight.
Everyone knew that his fight with Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 128 would be his proving ground, with most insiders believing Shogun to be favored in the fight. But Jones passed the test with flying colors, proving himself with a third-round TKO of the champion, claiming the gold.
He then made the first defense of said title by becoming the first fighter in the UFC to finish Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, submitting him in the fourth round with a rear naked choke at UFC 135.
The kicker to all this is Jones is only 24 years old.
“You’re not in your prime until you’re 27, 28, 29 years old. He’s only 24 and he’s fighting Lyoto Machida; he’s fighting all these guys who are legends,” commented UFC president Dana White on Wednesday. “You have to respect what this kid has been able to do at such a young age and how he’s been able to do it.”
Especially after the stoppage of Rampage, he is getting respect. He opened as a heavy favorite for his upcoming title defense against Lyoto Machida at UFC 140 in December.
But with that respect also comes higher demands. People are now starting to clamor for a super fight between Jones and UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, who has stepped up to the light heavyweight division a couple of times with smashing success.
As much as White believes Jones is the real deal and is amazed at how he’s running rough shod over his competition, he’s not ready to put that much of a task on Jones’ plate. White believes both have other matters to attend to first.
“(Jones) has got two tough fights ahead of him. Anderson is gonna continue to fight. He’ll probably end up fighting Chael Sonnen,” said White. “They’ve got a lot of tough guys in front of them.
“I know everybody loves the idea of a super fight. But the thing you’ve got to understand, Jon is 24 years old. He’s got some business to handle in the light heavyweight division without thinking about Anderson Silva right now.”
If he gets past Machida at UFC 140, Jones is then expected to finally square off with former teammate, and top contender, Rashad Evans, who happens to be on the sidelines recovering from an injury at the moment.
Those are both tall tasks. Machida and Evans have both been ensconced in the upper echelon of the light heavyweight division for a long time. But if he gets past both, would a super fight between Jones and Silva, who has often hinted at nearing the end of his fighting career, be out of the question?
The way Jones has been performing, we might not be all that far off from finding out.