Jon “Bones” Jones, who many believe is the uncrowned future king of the light heavyweight division, is currently staring down the barrel of a match up with a fellow rising contender that could put him next in line for a title shot. Though he respects his opponent and wants nothing more than to become UFC light heavyweight champion of the world, “Bones” was slightly disappointed to learn that his next fight would come against Arizona State wrestling product Ryan Bader.
Jones has expressed in interviews that he is tired of going up against fighters who rely on a boxing/wrestling-centric style and would like to test himself against fighters from different backgrounds. The Greg Jackson protege recently spoke with Yahoo!Sports in order to ensure that everyone knows his comments were not an insult to Bader; that he respects “Darth” and his skills and is very much looking forward to the opportunity of fighting him.
“I believe in the martial arts way and carrying yourself in a certain manner and never disrespecting your opponent,” Jones said. “I’m not the type of person who would ever talk badly about another fighter and it’s really bothered me to see what has happened and how I’ve been portrayed.”
Jones has taken issue with the way his comments have been perceived and wanted to send a clear message regarding his thoughts on Ryan Bader’s fighting accomplishments.
“You have to be really good to do what he’s done,” Jones said. “Ryan Bader is an excellent fighter who has accomplished a lot and deserves everything that is coming to him now.”
It could be argued that Bader actually earned his chance to fight Jones and wasn’t merely in the right place at the right time. Bader fought Antonio Rogerio Nogueira late last month at UFC 119 in a bout that was heavily rumored to be part of the “Jon Jones Sweepstakes.” Bader defeated Nogueira via unanimous decision but may have shown his hand to Jones, who believes that Bader was exposed even in victory over Nogueira.
“It was a great fight to watch,” Jones said. “I thought Ryan Bader was exposed a bit as far as his wrestling ability. Nogueira not being a wrestler and considering the fact that Nogueira was able to stuff a lot of his takedowns, it was very interesting for me to watch. But I respect Ryan Bader as an opponent. I respect that he’s never lost a fight. I am up for the challenge and I’m excited by the challenge.”
“Bones” knows that he will be knocking down the door of the light heavyweight champion with a victory over Bader and is keeping his eyes on the prize to ensure his dream does not slip from his grasp.
“I feel I’m this close to getting a shot at being the UFC light heavyweight champion of the world and I’m not going to slow down or allow pressure to get in my way now,” Jones said. “My dream is right in front of my face and I’m fighting someone I respect a great deal, so that will inspire me to train even harder.”
Jones and Bader are expected to face off at the as-yet-unannounced UFC 126 fight card which is expected to take place February 5, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.