Jon Jones lived up to all the hype in the world and TKO’d Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in the third round to win the light heavyweight title at UFC 128: Shogun vs. Jones.
Jones made it look easy for the majority of the match-up, striking and controlling the champion at will, breaking him down bit by bit.
Jones started the fight wildly, throwing a flying knee to open it up. Shortly there after, Jones got the takedown and the champion was on his back. Jones traded from guard to half guard, working to get short strikes in and dropping elbows. Shogun got back to his feet, but numerous shots to the champion wobbled him as he looked very winded. Later, he tried to pull a leg lock on Jones, but didn’t get his grip and Jones ended up falling in the champ’s guard. The round ended with Jones doing a majority of the control in the opening five minutes.
Round two had Shogun coming forward, but Jones landed a nice spinning back elbow that shook Rua. Jones seemed to pick apart the champion halfway through the round. An attempted kick by Rua had Jones taking advantage with a takedown into guard. After transitioning to halfguard, Jones worked from there and landed several short shots. An attempt at a knee bar by Jones was cut short by round coming to an end, but not before he landed a hammer fist for good measure.
The third round had Shogun attempting another leg lock, but Jones jumped out of that quickly, making a kimura attempt in the process. Working to Rua’s guard, Jones laid down more and more punches and elbows, leaving Rua taking a wealth of punishment. Getting back to the feet, Rua dealt with more knees and punches, leaving no opening for Rua to defend himself as Jones overwhelmed him, forcing referee, Herb Dean, to step in and stop the fight.
The official time of the stoppage was 2:37 of round three.
“Believe in yourself, believe in your heart,” Jones said following the victory. “Once you get there, don’t slow down.”
After one of the most crushing losses in his career, Rua reflected on the fight.
“The strategy was to fight Jones…anywhere that the fight would go,” he said. “I have to congratulate him. He was better than me.”
With the win, Jones is now atop the UFC’s light heavyweight division, and next in line to fight him is his friend and training partner, Rashad Evans. Jones spoke on facing a friend and teammate.
“We are teammates,” Jones said about his friend and number one contender. “It sucks that I have to do this, but this is my dream. This is everything I believe in.
“I got to do exactly what I have to do.”
Evans sat cageside and witnessed his Team Jackson teammate put on one of the best performances of his young career. Although they both see it as unfortunate, the two will put friendships aside and fight for the gold.
“We train together and he got that strap, so I got to go after it,” Evans said after congratulating the new champion.