Jonny 'Bones' Jones followed up the most difficult fight of his career with a downright majestic performance against Glover Teixeira. The key to it all? Unshakeable confidence.
Patrick Smith/Zuffa LLC
By Kenny Florian
After Jon Jones' dominant victory over a tough and dangerous Glover Texeira, we have our answer as to how "Bones" would come back after his toughest fight of his career against Alexander Gustafsson. Some thought that vulnerability and a lack of confidence was creeping into the psyche of Jon Jones. Others said that Jones wasn't taking his fight seriously enough against Teixeira...yeah, not the case.
Jones keeps evolving and showing depth as a fighter. He came out a little tight against Texeira but seemed to settle down after some very important advice that was yelled his way by his corner. "Stay focused...have fun out there!", they shouted. Simple words of advice but advice that Jones truly embraced on Saturday night. It has become very clear that when Jones is having fun in the octagon, it's never "fun" for his opponents. Although I definitely had Jones winning the 1st round, he really took over in the 2nd.
I expected Jones to be dominant from the outside as he usually is but he was perhaps more lethal at close range where his weapon of choice, the elbow was used again and again like a machete. Many people felt that it was at close range where Texeira would have the upper hand with his body punching and heavy hands but Jones was clearly dominant at every facet of mixed martial arts. There are other fighters who have a wide range of weapons but Jones instinctively knows how and when to use them. Perhaps there was some gamesmanship going on as he was framing with his lead hand which led to some eye pokes but Jones is proving to be the most talented fighter to have ever competed in the UFC's octagon. There are flashy fighters and there are fighters who win but do it in a very systematic and less exciting manner. Jones has shown the rare ability to be exciting, unpredictable, consistent and undefeated (I refuse to count the Hamill fight).
Let's be honest. With the exception of his fight with Gustafsson, Jones has made fighting look easy. The light heavyweight division was considered to be one of the most competitive in the UFC. I believe it still is but to me, Jones is just so much better than everyone else. We are witnessing greatness and with every performance Jones is showing more layers to his already potent MMA arsenal.
The most impressive aspect of Jon Jones as an athlete is how he is able to let go and flow freely in the octagon. Much like the 155lbs champ Anthony "Showtime" Pettis, there is a fearlessness to Jon Jones. That fearlessness comes from his commitment as a fighter and martial artist on fight night. You rarely see Jones doubt himself when he competes. Even against Gustafsson when he was bruised and bloodied, he repeatedly threw risky spinning elbows and heavy high kicks until he was able to badly hurt the dangerous Swede. That risky spinning elbow that would've surely turned out to be a bad decision for most fighters, turned out to be the technique that changed the fight for him against Gustafsson. This display of fearlessness came in the way of axe kicks and spinning kicks against Texeira. These are techniques that are rarely used effectively in MMA. It worked for Jones however and won him respect from Texeira.
As much as we are wowed by Bones when we watch him compete in the octagon, his opponents seem to be wowed by him when they compete against him. Jones has an insane offense and uses it incredibly well. He's too effective when you allow him to move forward and lead the dance. While Bones is showing definite improvements with his counter fighting, it's his offensive output that is most impressive.
You rarely see Jones doubt himself when he competes. Even against Gustafsson when he was bruised and bloodied, he repeatedly threw risky spinning elbows and heavy high kicks until he was able to badly hurt the dangerous Swede.
Instinct and timing just gel for Jones and his wide variety of techniques perplexes his opponents leaving them blind in the cage. Alexander Gustafsson figured out that the best way to beat Jones is to do your best to not even let him get going. Alex was successful against Jon early on because he was very offensive and his footwork had him away before Jones was able to effectively respond. Unfortunately for Gustafsson, we found out that Jones also has an unshakeable spirit with a champion's heart. Because of that, we saw Jones claw back and win a controversial victory that night.
As expected, we have that epic rematch heading our way with Jones and Gustafsson. As I see it, "The Mauler" is the only man with the skills and style to beat the champion Jon Jones. The first fight between those two was the greatest fight in UFC history. I believe that confidence can be contagious if you are around it enough and since I'm still feeling that high from Jones' performance from Saturday night, I will say that the rematch will be as good if not better than the first one.