“I never sleep cause sleep is the cousin of death” – Nas
If the whole world is ready to anoint Jon Jones as the next great light heavyweight, there’s one person who isn’t listening to all the chatter.
That one person is Jon Jones himself.
The young fighter, now training full time in New Mexico under the tutelage of Greg Jackson, appreciates all the kind words heaped upon him, but when he looks in the mirror he doesn’t see a champion yet. He sees a work in progress, and there’s still work to be done.
“Just being around Greg Jackson all the time and fighters who are way above me experience wise, and age-wise and just life-wise, it just helps me stay humble and realize how much I don’t know and my age and things like that,” Jones told MMAWeekly Radio recently.
“It definitely plays a huge part of my game, just keeping me humble and keeping me in the gym, keeps me focused on my weaknesses.”
Throughout his young MMA career, Jones has shown very few weaknesses, but he’s quick to point out that he has quite a few areas he wants to improve on. Of course most fighters are their own worst critics, but Jones gets excited to carve away at his imperfections and get closer to being the fighter he knows he can become.
His upcoming fight against Ryan Bader is a perfect example of how he’s looking to improve. Jones has fought some tough competition throughout his UFC career, but Bader will likely be the toughest to date.
A multiple time All-American wrestler who also packs thunder in his right hand, Bader has proven to be a tough competitor for anyone he faces in the 205-pound division. It’s a challenge that Jones is definitely up for.
“I get up for absolutely every challenge. I get up for challenges at Greg Jackson’s dojo, I think I’m a pretty competitive guy, never like to lose, and I’m always up for a challenge. When you start sleeping on people that’s when you get surprised and I don’t really like surprises,” Jones admits.
Sleeping on the job is something Jones hasn’t done yet, and he doesn’t plan on starting with this fight.
To help him prepare for Bader, Jones worked with the regular cast of characters at Team Jackson, which reads like an All-Star list of MMA veterans. At the top of the food chain for this training camp has been one of Jones’ mentors, who has simulated everything he expects Bader to bring into their fight at UFC 126.
“Right now I have Rashad Evans simulating Ryan Bader,” said Jones. “He does everything that Ryan can do, just way more fast and powerful. So it’s just great to be around, it’s a beautiful atmosphere, and I recommend Greg Jackson’s for everybody.”
For this training camp, Jones brought his family out to New Mexico for the first time. He says his girlfriend and kids being around have really made the training camp feel like home, but that doesn’t mean he’s not focused.
Actually, he’s more focused than ever because Bader does present new problems, but like a mathematician staring at an unproven theorem, Jones looks at his fight at UFC 126 as a puzzle he has to solve.
“We’re focusing on takedown defense and jiu-jitsu from the bottom, getting up from the bottom, and guard passes and all types of stuff,” Jones explained. “I feel totally ready. As far as wrestling, the biggest difference maybe his physical strength. He’s the youngest wrestler I’ve competed against, he may have a little more pop in his double-leg, a little more explosion.”
Jon Jones will look to show off the completed puzzle when he faces Ryan Bader this weekend at UFC 126 in Las Vegas.