In 2011, UFC Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones dominated in one of the most amazing years any mixed martial artist has ever accomplished. The only competition he had was the man who he took the belt from, Mauricio Rua, who set the bar in 2005. Since winning the title from Rua at UFC 128, Jones has completely dominated every contender he’s faced in the octagon. However, lately his level of competition has slipped by a large degree.
First, let’s take a look at the year that led to his notoriety. Only six weeks before he faced “Shogun” Rua, he choked out fellow top 10-er Ryan Bader in round 2 of their fight. After that, he surprised many “Pride Never Die” fans by completely shutting down Rua en route to a 3rd round TKO. In Jones’ first title defense, the man that challenged him was former light heavyweight champ Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Rampage wasn’t on the greatest streak but still considered a threat and Jones finished him in the fourth. For his last 2011 fight, Jones faced another former champ in Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida. The Dragon’s elite counter striking seemed another foil to Jones range but he was brought down in round 2.
There is no discrediting Jones’ accomplishments in the first year of his championship. It was an absolutely incredible run that decimated the Light Heavyweight division. Since then, Jones’ competition has not held up to scrutiny. Undoubtedly, he started out strong in facing former teammate Rashad Evans. Evans was legitimately the rightful challenger and supposedly had some inside info on Jones from when they trained together, but Jones completely shut him down when it was actually on the line.
That was the last legitimate contender that Jones has faced and it doesn’t look like it’s getting any better. Since his fight with Rashad, Jones has faced former Middleweight contenders (not even champions) in back to back fights. Yeah, he dominated both Vitor Belfort and Chael Sonnen, but that’s why there’s weight classes.
Now, Jones is set to face a man who’s only a superstar in Sweden, Alexander Gustafsson. Gus is probably the best option for a (new) contender that’s available right now, but there’s still a big question mark. He managed to get by Shogun Rua at UFC On Fox 5, but was not as dominant as most would hope. On top of that, he was supposed to beat top Strikeforce 205er Gegard Mousasi to earn his title shot. Instead, he was forced out less than a week before the bout and was rewarded with contendership. And apparently, the best way the UFC can imagine to sell this fight is by measuring Jones and Gus from armpit to fingertip. Great work, marketing.
Following Wednesday night’s UFC Fight Night 28, Glover Teixeira inexplicably managed to claim the spot of number one contender. After being rocked twice in the first round of his fight against Ryan Bader, Glover landed a powerful punch that laid out Bader and sealed Teixeira’s victory. Shortly following the fight, the UFC confirmed that Glover would get the next crack at the 205 lb. title. This is an incredible accomplishment for a fighter whose best win is against a former champ just barely clinging to the top ten, and that not even his most recent opponent
I don’t have any doubt that Jones is the most talented fighter in the Light Heavyweight division. He’s certainly earned that accreditation. But if his career continues as it’s going, it will be tainted by a series of inadequate opponents, much like what we’ve seen with Fedor Emelianenko. Regardless, we still have to see if he can get past Gustafsson at UFC 165 on September 21 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada.