Any time a great fighter wins in dominating fashion in a title fight is it becomes almost too easy to proclaim them unbeatable. We had the “Machida” era right after Lyoto knocked out Rashad Evans in spectacular fashion, lasting all of one controversial decision and a first round stoppage to Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. People have been quick to proclaim Cain Velasquez the next great heavyweight after a quick stoppage of Brock Lesnar with nary a defense due to injury. Brock himself was declared to be almost unbeatable by many because of his physical gifts after stopping Frank Mir with massive punches and choking out Shane Carwin. This leaves us with the current UFC Light Heavyweight champion and current passenger on the hype train: Jonny “Bones” Jones.
Jones has seemingly gotten onto the hype train, so to speak, after an absolute dismantling of Pride legend Rua after stepping in on short notice for former champion, and now former teammate, Rashad Evans. Evans is now a former teammate because the two are slated to fight for the LHW title and the war of words between Evans and his former camp with Greg Jackson has become somewhat interesting. While people seem to be talking more about a super-fight with current middleweight champion Anderson Silva or heavyweight champion Velasquez more than Jones’ first title defense, one thing seems to be forgotten.
Jones is now the biggest fish in the deepest pond in MMA. For all of the great fighters below 205 lbs, no division outside of lightweight has more concentrated numbers of great fighters than light heavyweight. No champion has made more than one successful title defense since Chuck Liddell held the strap, either, so for Jones to do so he’s going to have to deal with some terrific fighters. If and when he makes more than title defense we can discuss his being a great champion but until then he’s just a new champion. He is a proven commodity as a fighter but winning a title and defending it are two different things. Matt Hughes once made that remark and it’s the absolute truth; getting to the top is hard. Staying there? Infinitely more so.
It’s what makes a champion like Anderson Silva or Georges St. Pierre that much more spectacular and Hughes’ reign as welterweight champion in hindsight. That championship belt is a target that everyone is going to be shooting at, thus everything has got to get better or you’ll be an ex-champion sooner than later. With everyone gunning for Jones in the cage as the new top dog in the division the entire library of his fights are going to be ripped through and dissected by coaches and fighters. Jones has the right attitude, it seems, as he wants to become a better fighter than he already is but being a champion is tougher than winning a championship.
To say that we are in a new era is a bit early. Jones could be a great fighter and we look at his fight with Rua as a watershed moment in his career when he showed the world how good he was. But this could also be his high point, too, and it’s getting lost in the afterglow of his championship win.
Jonny “Bones” Jones victory over Rua felt the same way that Anderson Silva’s victory over Rich Franklin did years ago, that it was the start of a new era. It feels like we’re seeing another dominant champion begin his rise to glory but there are so many unanswered questions now that a dominating victory over a tremendous fighter didn’t answer. Before we place the same crown on his head that many others before him had, let’s see him defend that title he just won more than once.
Tags: anderson silva, Georges St. Pierre, jon jones, Lyoto Machida, Matt Hughes, Mixed Martial Arts, UFC 128, UFC Light Heavyweight division