'Bones' Jones' stock rapidly rising
Story by Anthony Springer Jr
If you take a moment to listen to Jon “Bones” Jones (9-1, 4-1 UFC) talk, you might think he’s been fighting professionally for years. The 22-year-old is one of the newest additions to heralded MMA coach Greg Jackson’s camp and his stock in the UFC’s light heavyweight division is quickly rising.
Jones made a quiet Octagon debut in 2008, earning a decision victory over Andre Gusamo at UFC 87: Seek and Destroy. His follow up performance proved to be the eye opener. At UFC 94: St-Pierre vs. Penn II, Jones put on a 15 minute clinic in an undercard bout with Ultimate Fighter alum Stephan Bonnar. The always dangerous Jones showcased an impressive array of strikes—including a spinning back elbow—en route to a lopsided unanimous decision win. A submission victory over Jake O’Brien at UFC 100 had many insiders pegging the former college wrestler a rising star on the world’s biggest stage.
The lone blemish on his record will likely be marked with a mental asterisk in the minds of fans. Jones flattened Matt Hammil, but the bout ended in a disqualification after “Bones” dropped several illegal elbows onto the face of an otherwise defenseless Hammil.
When impressive performances and critical acclaim don’t add up to wins, fighters typically take the praise with a grain of salt. However, the loss to Hammil led to Jones losing out on another significant life moment—the birth of his new born daughter. Upon learning of her significant other’s first professional loss, Jones’ girlfriend suddenly went into labor.
“The stress of that put her into labor,” Jones recalls. “It was a tough night from me, between getting an L on my record and missing the birth of my daughter.”
If Jones is having a bad day, you’d be hard pressed to figure it out. He speaks with a calm, steady flow regardless of the topic at hand. His voice rarely rises or drops, carefully guarding one of the secrets that make him such a successful fighter.
“The biggest thing for me is just having fun,” he says. “When I’m having fun and staying cool, I do much better.”
Looking to rebound, Jones takes to the Octagon again this Sunday in a headlining bout for the UFC’s inaugural event on Versus. Standing across the cage will be another man looking to move up the ranks of the light heavyweight division, Brandon “The Truth” Vera. With Vera coming off a loss himself, Jones is respectful of his upcoming opponent, but insists this will be just another day at the office.
“There’s no hype, just fight,” Jones says of headlining versus fighting on an undercard. “I believe there are no big fights. There are steps up in competition, but this is not a big fight, I don’t have to win this fight, I want to win this fight. If I feel like you have to win this fight, it creates confusion. When I want to win the fight, it creates energy. I’ve just gotta get the job done.”
Don’t expect any fight night jitters from Jones. When asked why he poses a problem for Vera, Jones barely pauses before laying out—in a very methodical way—why “The Truth” will have his hands full when the bell rings.
“Not to sound arrogant, but I don’t think he’s ever experienced anything like me before,” Jones says before running down his resume. I can stand and fight, I can do spinning techniques, I have good leg attacks, wrestling, Judo… Where he has experience, I don’t think he’s experienced a light heavyweight as fast as me, with my reach and who can throw high kicks with both feet.
“I think Tim Sylvia is the only guy close to me in being long and Keith Jardine is the only guy he’s fought who can kick box—and I kick box completely different than Keith Jardine,” he adds analyzing two of Vera’s previous opponents.
“Where he has experience, I don’t think he’s fought anybody remotely close to me.”
UFC Live: Vera vs. Jones goes live this Sunday on Versus at 6 p.m. PST.