UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones will be making his first title defense this Saturday when he meets former champ Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in the main event of UFC 135.
“Bones” recently sat down for an interview with USA Today’s Sergio Non, where he discussed many topics, including his change in personality and the problems Jackson poses.
Jones (13-1) stunned many when he defeated Mauricio “Shogun” Rua for the 205-pound crown in March, finishing the fight with a series of punches and knees that grounded the former No. 1 ranked fighter in the world.
Still, Jones, a former NJCAA national wrestling champion while competing for Iowa Central Community College, didn’t feel like he was completely focused on being the best MMA fighter he could be.
“In the past, I would have a few nights where me and the guys would want to go out and hang out for a while, come home a little late, feel sluggish in the morning. I don’t have any of those things any more. Or eating the things I shouldn’t be eating. Eating past a certain time at night. I stopped doing those type of things,” Jones said. “I’ve just matured a lot. I’ve grown a lot, and I noticed it. The way I push myself, and how serious I take game-planning. I just feel better.
“I think I’m acting like a champion now instead of someone who wants to be a champion. I just expect more from myself, I guess.”
Jones is training five times a day now with Greg Jackson in New Mexico, working through sparring, kickboxing, wrestling, stand-up and planning.
The 24-year-old knows that he will need to be on top of his game when he meets Jackson.
“I think ‘Rampage’ has slowed down a little bit, but I still believe that he’s very dangerous. He’s now someone to be taken lightly. He really has freakish, brute strength,” Jones said. “His gifts come within his hands and his ability to punch in different angles with equal power. That’s an awesome talent to have, and that’s something I’ve never gone against. I think I’ve prepared myself to deal with that.”
Jones has won four straight fights since a disqualification loss to Matt Hamill in a fight he was well in control of. Jackson, meanwhile, has won four of his last five bouts, with the lone loss coming in early-2010 to Rashad Evans.
UFC 135 takes place from the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado this Saturday. FightLine.com will have complete coverage of the entire event, so make sure you check back here throughout the day for news and results.