Jon “Bones” Jones has been bestowed with the mantle of “The Next Big Thing” on the strength of his creative and devastating performances in the UFC.
The 23-year old Greg Jackson product has looked nothing short of spectacular in his six Octagon outings (he didn’t look too shabby in his previous six fights either) and many have heaped lofty expectations on the young fighter. Though Jones sees his progress and understands why he has attracted as much attention as he has, he recently told MMAFighting.com that he doesn’t believe he has even come close to reaching his full potential.
“MMA is like swimming out into the middle of the ocean and realizing there’s no other side out there. It’s like climbing a ladder where there’s no top rung,” Jones asserted. “When you take account of expert psychology stuff, working on flexibility, guard passes, working from the bottom, and I could go on, there’s so much to learn. I love it. But I say I’m at 20 percent of where I can be, where I should be.”
Though many often reference the Jon Jones hype train, “Bones” himself resents the term and believes that it sells short the amount of time and dedication he has poured into the sport he loves.
“I hate that word ‘hype,'” he said. “It’s just hard work and reality. I worked my butt off to be where I am. I don’t want people to think I’m all hype. I see what I do in practice, when I get hit, things I have to work on, and some of my downfalls. I’m really focused and motivated to always better myself. I’ve only been fighting for three years. I’ve learned fast. I take pride in that, but I also know there’s so much more I don’t know. There’s so much stuff out there I’m not even tapping into yet.”
Jones will once again have the opportunity to showcase his ever-improving skills when he takes on fellow up-and-comer Ryan Bader on the main card of this weekend’s UFC 126 fight card. He told MMAJunkie.com that he hopes all of his hard work and dedication will be evident in his performance and that it will be enough to stop people from considering his reputation a product of hype.
“Hype doesn’t get you a win. Hard work gets you a win. I’m sick of the hype train,” Jones said. “Hopefully after Feb. 5 when I’m in the middle of the Octagon, I’m sweating, I’m doing my interview, you’ll see a 23-year-old boy who’s worked his ass off to be standing there in front of Joe Rogan to be giving that interview. Hopefully I can derail the Jon Jones hype train by showing people that I’m serious, and I work hard to be where I’m at.”
Jones and Bader square off this Saturday night at UFC 126: Silva vs. Belfort, which goes down at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.