The UFCs Light-Heavyweight division has always been a fan favourite since the creating of it at UFC 31 back in 2001 where originally the now well established 205 division was named “Middleweight” which is today’s 185 Pound division. There’s been successful UFC Light-Heavyweight Champions throughout time with the likes of Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, Forest Griffin and Vitor Belfort but Jon ‘Bones’ Jones shadows over every one of these legendary 205ers with his overwhelming domination over the last decade.
Jon Jones fights out of Albuquerque, New Mexico under arguably the best gym in all of MMA, Jackson Wink MMA. This gym has been home to many UFC Champions or top challengers over the years including the likes of UFC Heavyweights Andrei Arlovski, Alistair Overeem & Travis Browne, Former UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion Rashad Evans, Former UFC Welterweight and Lightweight Champion BJ Penn, Top UFC Middleweight Yoel Romero, Fan Favourite UFC Fighters such as Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone and Carlos Condit and Former UFC Womens Bantamweight Champion Holly Holm. The list goes on and on for great competitors that have been based out of Jackson Wink MMA but none compare to Jon Jones.
Jon Jones first stepped foot into a UFC octagon at UFC 87 as an undefeated prospect with a record of 6-0 with each of his wins coming via a finish. His first bout with the UFC came against André Gusmã, this started Jon Jones’ run to the top with the promotion by beating Gusmã convincingly and getting his first career Unanimous Decision win. Jones would follow this victory up with a second Unanimous Decision win after dominating Stephan Bonner at UFC 94.
At UFC 100, Jon Jones made another statement to the top UFC Light-Heavyweights by finishing Jake O’Brien via Guillotine choke in the second round to claim his first UFC finish. With Jon Jones at that time being 9-0 and winning his first 3 UFC bouts in spectacular fashion, it started to turn the heads of UFC fans that Jon Jones had the potential to be the future of the division but Jones’ next fight against Matt Hamill resulted in Jones’ only career loss to this day. Jones landed a takedown on Hamill late in the first round and followed up by claiming full mount over Hamill where Jones then started to throw elbows at a vicious rate. The referee jumped in to save Hamill from receiving anymore damage from Jones after he had been battered by Jones’ elbows over and over which was originally thought that Jones was going to go to 10-0 after TKOing Hamill and continue on his path to the title. Unfortunately the announcement wasn’t in Jones’ favour and resulted in Jones being disqualified for an illegal elbow known as a 12-6 elbow which was originally announced a point deduction but because Hamill was unable to continue, the bout was ruled a disqualification for Jones. This caused controversy over the 12-6 elbow and is still in discussions to this day whether the 12-6 elbow is any different to an elbow thrown at a different angle.
After Jones’ first defeat as a professional, he went on to ironically win back to back by TKO via Elbows over Brandon Vera & Vladimir Matyushenko. These two wins resulted in Jon Jones’ next opponent being Ryan Bader at UFC 126, Ryan Bader possessed a lot of threats to Jon Jones as at the time he was looked at as a legitimate contender and possibly a future UFC Champion. Jones made easy work of Bader and then finishing the prospect by second round guillotine to move to 12-1. As Joe Rogan is in the octagon with Jones after his submission win, Rogan tells Jon that his team mate at the time, Rashad Evans has pulled out of his bout with then Champion Shogan Rua which led to Jon Jones being offered to step in to challenge Shogan Rua as a late replacement, for the UFC Light-Heavyweight title. The two fighters were paired up to fight at UFC 128 only a month after Jones’ win over Bader.
The Beginning of Jon Jones’ Title Reign
A lot of people believed that Jon Jones was not ready to challenge for the belt so early in his career being only 23 years old when he stepped in against Rua and with Shogans already well established background and his most recent win over Lyoto Machida by KO to win the title, fans believed that Shogan was going to keep the title for a long time. Jon Jones opened up the bout with the champion with a flying knee which led to a masterclass performance by Jones beating Shogan everywhere it went whether it was on the feet or if it went to the ground. The final blows came in the third round of the bout with Jones landing a knee through the middle and following up with a body shot, sending Shogan to the mat resulting in Jones beating Shogan via TKO to claim the UFC Light-Heavyweight title and becoming the youngest ever UFC Champion which still stands today.
Jon Jones’ first title defense was expected to occur on August 6th, 2011 at UFC 133 against former teammate and Former UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion Rashad Evans but due to a hand injury prior to the bout, Jones was sidelined and his hand condition was originally said to require hand surgery. Jon Jones later opted out for surgery and instead made the decision to rest and rehabilitate his injury without surgery. This led to Jones’ first defense coming against another Former UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Jon Jones has said recently that this bout was the most scared he’s felt before a bout due to Rampages one punch KO power and Jones added that he was having recurring dreams about being KO’d by Jackson quickly in the first round which is why he started the bout with one hand still on the ground. Although Jon Jones felt the pressure prior to the bout, his performance did not show it as he convincingly beat Jackson and went on to submit him in Round 4 by Rear-Naked Choke to retain his title and become the first man to submit Rampage.
After Jones’ first title defense, the UFC tried to reschedule Jones Vs Evans for the second time for UFC 140 on December 10th, 2011. Once again the bout fell through with a hand injury occurring to Rashad Evans this time instead. Jones went on to defend his title for the second time against a second former UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida. Machida at the time held black belts in Karate and in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and put his Karate techniques on display in the first round against Jones when he landed the cleanest shots against Jones up to that point with various body kicks and a lovely timed Blitz technique which was the most trouble Jones had ever been in up to that point in his career although it did not throw Jones off his goal to beat another legend. In round 2, Jones began to pick up his regular pace and picking his shots more against the established karate black belt, Machida looked to advance on Jones but was met with a Superman punch in very close range resulting in Machida falling and Jones quickly wrapping up a guillotine before pinning Machida against the fence in a standing Guillotine choke before Jon Jones pulling off an unconscious Machida letting him fall face first to the mat. This became the first submission loss on Lyoto Machidas record and the second submission in a row for Jon Jones.
Jon Jones’ third title defense was finally scheduled against then rival Rashad Evans at UFC 145 and with the back and forth drama between the two, it looked as if Jon Jones was going to face the hardest bout of his career beforehand. This was not the case as Jones won the fight with Evans convincingly by Unanimous Decision laying the rivalry with Evans to finally rest. After all the years of comparing the two Light-Heavyweights, there was no longer an argument between the two. At the UFC 145 Post-Fight Press Conference, Dana White went on to announce that Jon Jones’ forth title defense would be against Dan Henderson at UFC 151.
As the Jones Vs Henderson fight grew closer, Henderson sustained injuries resulting in a withdrawal from the title bout and with Jones left without an opponent, long time UFC Middleweight Chanel Sonnen offered to step in as a late notice replacement against Jones for the UFC Light-Heavyweight title. Jones turned down the offer to defend against Chael Sonnen as Jones’ head coach Greg Jackson commented on the offer and said it would be “Pretty Difficult” to prepare for a bout against Sonnen on such short notice. This resulted in the Pay-Per-View being scrapped all together which is the first time ever that an event has ever been scrapped. It was later reported that Henderson had actually sustained the injuries 3 weeks earlier to the pull out but attempted to keep it under wraps to see how things would go. This was the only time that Jones and Henderson were ever scheduled to fight in their UFC careers.
Although Jones received a lot of backlash for turning down the late notice fight against Sonnen by fans and by UFC President Dana White who called the decision “One of the most selfish, disgusting decisions that doesn’t just affect you.” Jones was slated to compete at the following Pay-Per-View in a rematch against Lyoto Machida at UFC 152 on September 22nd, 2012 but due to Lyoto not signing the agreement prior to the announcement, it was later scrapped and Jon Jones went on to face yet another former UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion and one of the all time greats in the UFC, Vitor Belfort. This bout was yet again, graded as Jon Jones’ hardest test in the UFC although betting odds had Jones as a 13-1 favourite. This remark lived up to its expectation when Belfort clamped on a straight arm bar against Jones which was as locked in as it gets and Jones refuses to tap to Belforts submission attempt early on by trying to shake and slide Belfort off the submission. Jones then went on to convincingly overwhelm the former champion and then landed a lovely timed Sidekick to the midsection of Belfort leading to Belfort folding over and Jones then wrapping up an Americana submission leaving Belfort no option but to tap in Round 4 if their bout. This left Jones with 4 title defenses tying him with the great Chuck Liddell as well as receiving a $65,000 Submission of the Night Bonus for his win.
Following Jon Jones’ recent title defense, he was then set up to coach The Ultimate Fighter Season 17 against rescheduled opponent Chael Sonnen. The two would square off on April 27th, 2013 following the TUF finale and although Sonnen tried to create interest from fans in the bout, Jones didn’t see Sonnen as a legitimate contender and did not play into the trash talk to hype the bout up. When the two finally met in the octagon Jon Jones made easy work of Chael Sonnen showing that Sonnen was in fact no real threat to his title reign as he beat Sonnen by TKO in Round 1. Although Jones sustained an injury during the bout, it was self inflicted as he dislocated his Phalanx (Big toe) which was shown live as the Post Fight Interview with Joe Rogan was taking place leaving Jones to be sat while being interviewed. This quick title defense led to Jones being tied for most UFC Light-Heavyweight title defenses of all time at 5 with Tito Ortiz.
Jon Jones’ 6th title defense was scheduled to be against top prospect Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165 on September 21st, 2013. Many believed that Gustafsson didn’t really have anything to offer the reigning champion apart from his height being similar to Jones but Gustafsson shut all the doubters down after he became the first man to take Jon Jones down and cut Jon Jones during the bout. The fight between the two Light-Heavyweights went the full 5 rounds and with both men battered and beaten, Jon Jones took the Unanimous Decision win, the fight itself is still today looked at as one of the greatest fights of all time and people believe that Gustafsson should have won the bout. Although there was controversy around the decision, Jon Jones broke the all time record for most consecutive title defenses with his win over Gustafsson.
After back and forth on dates and venues, Jon Jones’ 7th UFC title defense came against Glover Teixeira who was on a 20 Fight Win Streak at the time with wins over the likes of Ryan Bader and Quinton Jackson to claim a title shot against Jon Jones, at UFC 172 on April 26th, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. Jones dominated Teixeira for all 5 rounds by pinning Teixeira against the fence and landing perfectly executed elbows right through the bout leading to every judge scoring the bout 50-45 in favor of Jones.
The day after Jones’ victory over Glover, UFC President Dana White announces that Jones’ next opponent would be Alexander Gustafsson in a highly anticipated rematch for the UFC Light-Heavyweight title which was looking to get scheduled for a Pay-Per-View in Sweden, Gustafssons home country. The bout was finally being looked at to be arranged in Las Vegas at UFC 177 but there was a slight hold up and that came with Jon Jones allegedly refusing to fight Gustafsson and instead showing interest in a bout with them Undefeated Light-Heavyweight Daniel Cormier. However, not long after the original hold up, the UFC announced that Jon Jones would in fact be facing Alexander Gustafsson in a rematch at UFC 178 on September 27th, 2014. The bout unfortunately fell through due to Gustafsson sustaining a torn meniscus and instead Jones would defend his title against Daniel Cormier at the same event. Once again, the title bout fell through as Jon Jones sustained a leg injury of his own during training resulting in Jones to withdraw from the title bout against Cormier.
The Jones vs Cormier bout was rescheduled for UFC 182 on January 3rd, 2015. The rivalry between Jones and Cormier today is regarded as one of the most intense rivalries of all time with a scuffle occurring between the two Light-Heavyweights at a face off prior to the bout and a range of back and forth trash talk leading up to their highly anticipated bout. With the trash talk aside, Jon Jones continued his dominant ways by defeating Cormier by Unanimous Decision which included 3 takedowns on Cormier who for background context, is a former Olympian and Jones successfully took Cormier down at various stages of the fight. This was Cormiers first professional loss but the bitter rivalry was far from over between the two.
After the bout with Cormier it was revealed that Jones had tested positive on a drugs test for cocaine a month prior to the bout but no further conversation was ever brought up about it.
Jon Jones’ first suspension and return
After Anthony Johnson returned to the UFC, he went on a tear through the 205 division with his latest win coming over Alexander Gustafsson in Sweden by first round TKO putting the Jones/Gustafsson fight away and making Johnson the Number 1 contender for the UFC title. Jones and Johnson were scheduled to face off at UFC 187 on May 23rd, 2015 but on the 28th of April, Jon Jones was involved in a Hit-And-Run incident where he crashed his vehicle into a pregnant woman’s vehicle and then fled the scene. Not only did this end the never ending reign of Jon Jones as Light-Heavyweight champion as he was indefinitely stripped of his title but it left fans globally wondering if Jon Jones will ever return.
Daniel Cormier stepped in at UFC 187 against Anthony Johnson and went on to defeat Johnson by Rear Naked Choke in Round 3 of their vacant title fight. Cormier continued the rivalry between Jones and himself by then calling Jones out for a second bout between the two when Jones returns.
On the 23rd of October, 2015, the UFC then announced that they had in fact reinstated Jon Jones to the active roster and was expected to return on April 23rd, 2016 at UFC 197 against Daniel Cormier for the UFC Light-Heavyweight title. On April 1st, Daniel Cormier pulled out of his title defense against Jones with a foot injury which left Jon Jones competing against the always tough, Ovince Saint Preux for the Interim title. Jon Jones made a successful comeback after over a year off after beating Saint Preux by Unanimous Decision to gain the Interim UFC Light-Heavyweight title. This bout then set up Jones and Cormier to unify the two belts at the UFCs biggest stage at that point, UFC 200.
Jon Jones’ second suspension and return
Although Jon Jones looked to finally be clear of his troubles, he would come up against another wall in his career when he tested positive before his arranged rematch with Daniel Cormier 3 days out from the bout. This left Jones to receive a 1 Year Suspension from USADA and left Daniel Cormier to defeat Anderson Silva in a 3 round bout at UFC 200 instead.
Although Jones was sidelined from competing in the octagon, he did go on to compete against UFC Legend Dan Henderson in a Grappling Match at Submission Underground 2 on December 14th, 2016 where Jones submitter Henderson with an Arm Triangle to win the match. Jones then suggested a grappling match with former opponent Chael Sonnen who was running the Submission Underground event and to this day, that match hasn’t happened as of yet.
Jon Jones’ third suspension and return
Jon Jones was once again, scheduled to face Daniel Cormier when he returned to action in 2017 at UFC 214 on July 29th which is around the time when Jones’ suspension was set to end. With all looking good for Jon Jones’ return, he did make it into the octagon against rival Daniel Cormier, 2 years after their original meeting and put on dominant performance over Cormier before landing a lovely timed head kick on Cormier before sending him to the mat and finishing him with strikes on the ground to regain his UFC Light-Heavyweight title. Jones then called for a bout with former UFC Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar in his Post Fight Interview which unfortunately never ended up materializing due to Jon Jones once again testing positive on July 28th (A day before the Cormier bout) but was announced on August 22nd, 2017 almost a month later. This left Jones to once again face suspension, the Light-Heavyweight title was returned to Daniel Cormier and the bout was ruled a No Contest for both fighters.
In September of 2018, it was announced that Jones would face a 15 month suspension following the failed drug test and with Daniel Cormier moving up to the UFCs Heavyweight division in that time and winning the UFC Heavyweight title against Stipe Miocic. This left Cormier to vacate the UFC Light-Heavyweight title and Jon Jones’ was set to return once again against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232 for the vacant Light-Heavyweight title.
Jon Jones’ second Light-Heavyweight title reign
Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson were slated to fight in their rematch, 6 years after their original bout for the vacant Light-Heavyweight title and with fans believing that the bout was going to be a close fight like the first bout, Jon Jones left no doubt about whether Gustafsson was his equal after he finished Alexander Gustafsson by Ground and Pound TKO in Round 3.
Jon Jones then went on to defend his Light-Heavyweight title against Anthony Smith at UFC 235 and Thiago Santos at UFC 239 and won both bouts by decision. Jones convincingly beat Anthony Smith in their bout but when Thiago Santos got his opportunity against Jones, he threw everything but the kitchen sink at Jones and lost a close Split Decision which left fans wondering whether Jones was starting to slow down.
Jon Jones’ most recent title defense came against Dominick Reyes at UFC 247 on February 8th, 2020. This was the closest bout to date that Jones has had with an opponent on paper as Reyes barely lost a decision to Jones and with 14 out of 21 media outlets scoring the fight for Reyes, it leaves two rematches waiting for Jon Jones when he returns to action.
Lately Jon Jones has butted heads with the UFC over financial negotiations and how much money he should be making compared to how much he is making with Dana White making the remark that Jones allegedly asked for “Deontay Wilder Money” which is within the range of $25-$30 Million, this has left the two to go back and forth on social media and Jon Jones even going as far as saying that he’s quitting and retiring from the sport.
Without a doubt Jon Jones is the best UFC Light-Heavyweight of all time and in the discussion for being in the top 3 Greatest of all Time, if not The Greatest of all Time in front of Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre. Hopefully we see the UFC and Jones settle the financial dispute and we get to see one of the all time greats back in the octagon soon.