UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones may not have won over the crowd’s heart just yet, but he’s certainly proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s the real deal.
The 24-year-old capped off an incredible year by taking out another dangerous former champion, this time Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida, though he had a harder time doing so than he had with any of his previous opponents. Machida (though somehow and worryingly not on two of the judges’ scorecards) took the first round from Jones, giving the champ fits with his in-and-out movement and actually staggering him with a punch for the first time that we’ve seen.
In the end though, Jones would prove himself every bit the champion that he’s shown the potential to be from the start; he adapted to Machida’s attack and took the fight back from him, eventually choking him unconscious against the fence to retain the title.
Following the battle, Jones discussed the early trouble that Machida presented and pinpointed the turning point of the fight.
“At no point I felt like I had Lyoto hurt, really, but one thing that did happen – I’ve never fought anyone like Lyoto. He’s an amazing person and first, I’d like to say that he has my utmost respect. So, hats off to Lyoto. But, I’ve never fought anyone like him so the first round was very, very confusing for me,” Jones admitted. “In the second round, once I cut him with the elbow from top position, that’s when my confidence really started to skyrocket and I realized that on the ground, I would have a pretty safe avenue of success there. And the blood, just seeing his blood just let me know that, ‘He bleeds, let’s do this.'”
Though Jones was always confident in his own ability to withstand punishment, having proved it on repeated occasion during practice, actually demonstrating his fortitude in the Octagon is something he’s proud of and hopes will silence some of his doubters.
“That’s definitely something that was kind of made up by media, that I couldn’t take a punch,” said Jones. “I just felt as if it was something to address just to kind of quiet more critics. I train with guys like Andrei Arlovski and these guys hit hard, Travis Browne, these guys hit really, really hard. I knew that I could take a punch and I’m glad that I got to prove it tonight.”
UFC 140: Jones vs. Machida went down last Saturday night from the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario. For a full recap and results of the event, click here.