23-year old Jonny “Bones” Jones proved tonight at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey that the massive hype surrounding him has been well deserved. The light heavyweight wunderkind dispatched of highly respected veteran Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in the third round of their championship match to earn the UFC light heavyweight crown.
Jones set the tone early, landing the first strike of the night with a flying knee and following that up with a few nice kicks before taking Rua to the ground. Jones held dominating position on the ground for a period before Rua found his way to his feet. On his way up, Jones tagged “Shogun” with a bevy of strikes that had the Brazilian on shaky legs. Jones stayed patient and Rua showed the heart of a lion in pressing forward through the cobwebs. “Bones” continued to land shots mostly at will and Rua’s only real moment of offense came when he rolled for a kneebar towards the end of the round. The attempt failed and Jones rode out the round in top position.
The second round showed more dominance from Jones, who continued to pick his spots and land freely. He eventually took Rua down and spun for a kneebar of his own at the round’s closing, putting an exclamation point on another impressive round for the challenger.
Jones was dragging “Shogun” into deep water and though the champion continued to fight onward, by the third round it was clear that he was having a hard time keeping his head above. After another failed kneebar attempt by Rua, Jones initiated the final sequence of the fight by gaining top position and firing away with ground and pound, most effectively with a sneaky right haymaker. Rua was clearly in trouble but he retained the agency to get back to his feet, but he was far from being out of danger. “Bones” landed a wicked left hook to the liver and then a follow up knee as Rua sagged against the fence and that’s what it took to bring the champ to the ground.
Jones didn’t have the chance to savor his victory for long, as Rashad Evans was brought into the cage to congratulate Jones and discuss their now impending fight. Both men kept it amicable, but there was a clear tension between the two now that their match up is a reality.
Jon Jones begins his reign as champion with a record of 13-1 and on a four-fight winning streak; “Shogun” Rua falls to 19-5.