When Light Heavyweights in the UFC check under their beds before nervously sliding under the sheets, they’re looking for Jon Jones.
Once the title-holder for the 205 pound division and well on his way to “Best Ever” status, a positive drug test for cocaine and a hit-and-run charge sent “Bones” into a lengthy legal battle that would strip him of his title and force him out of the UFC. His court-hearings and probation are now set, and anyone following Jones on social media has seen a total transformation in the physique and dedication of the sport’s pound-for-pound king. Now, Jones is set to return to the division he once ruled with an iron first, against the only top 10 contender in the division who he hasn’t already laid waste to.
Originally, Jones was set to unify the belt in a rematch with bitter rival, former Olympian Daniel Cormier. An outstanding wrestler, Cormier was initially expected to be Jones’s toughest fight to date, and the tension in the lead-up to the contest was both visible and extremely entertaining. Far removed was the humble, quiet and soft-spoken Jones who initially rose to the #1 contender-ship, and reborn from those ashes was a genuine heel. Confident, dominant and utterly dismissive of his opponents, Jones left his opponents broken, sometimes physically as well as spiritually, and did it with a nasty smirk and a demeanor that just screamed “too easy.” Cormier was no different. Jones slammed the Olympian to the mat with authority (previously Cormier had never surrendered a takedown in a fight), battered Cormier with punches and kicks, and dominated the former Strikeforce Heavyweight champion for 4 rounds of the contest. He even added in a good old fashioned WWE move, hitting Cormier with the famous DX “Suck It” crotch chop at the conclusion of the fight. However, in the follow up, his inability to control his excesses left him on the sidelines, while he watched his most hated opponent take his belt and call himself champion, despite losing to Jones months before.
Now, a drug-free (allegedly) and fiercely motivated, Jon Jones is returning to the division, and while Cormier suffered an injury in training in the weeks before the fight, Jones welcomed the opportunity to face #7 LHW contender Ovince St. Preuix for an interim title, and wait for his hated enemy to heal. While OSP is a respectable fighter and a phenomenal athlete, Jon Jones is a fighter that almost transcends reality. His horrifying streak of wins over former champions was an incredible sight, with one victory more brutal and dominant than the next. The vicious elbows against Rashad Evans, the dominant striking exchanges with Shogun Rua, the brutal submission defeats of Vitor Belfort and Lyoto Machida…Jon Jones is an animal unlike any before him. While Conor McGregor had an aura of invincibility, he had holes in his game to be exploited. No one has found the chink in Jones’s armor so far, and invincible doesn’t do his body of work justice. Jones just seems to be, well…not quite human.
On April 23rd, one of the greatest fighters to ever grace combat sports will return to the octagon with revenge on the mind. His path to what Jones has called “the paper champion” Daniel Cormier has one bump, Ovince St. Preuix, and I expect Jones to barely notice the bump when he runs “OSP” over.
The boogeyman is back, and the division is shaking in it’s boots. The Light Heavyweight division’s prodigal son returns. Long live the king.