Jonathan Dwight Jones was born for the Octagon. For a man who has dominated the UFC since his early 20s, Jon Jones has made the spotlight among the pound-for-pound fighters his own.
Nine months into his MMA training in 2008, 21-year-old Jones was walloping his small-time opponents in Massachusetts and New Jersey.
It took the skinny teen from Rochester, New York, just two minutes in the haloed Octagon on August 9, 2008, to offer a glimpse of what he could bring with his fledgling striking and hardened Greco-Roman grappling against Brazilian Andre Gusmao.
A win in his first title fight on March 19, 2011, over champion Maurício “Shogun” Rua in a third-round TKO finish at UFC 128, built a cult following and a stream of animosity. Jones’ flashy lifestyle outside the arena has seen him spiral from one turmoil to another. A hit-and-run case in 2015 was just the start. A tiff with UFC chairman Dana White over his pay in early 2020 would prompt Jones to relinquish his Light Heavyweight title after a record 11 defences.
Jones hoped for a return with a jump to the heavyweight division, but a long-standing tryst with alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs haunted him again. Jones has failed numerous dope tests since 2015, ceding his title twice to one of his biggest adversaries, Daniel Cormier.
A salacious drift in an Albuquerque nightclub in 2019 and a domestic violence charge against his long-time partner, Jessie Moses, tainted his legacy further.
“Bones” would have known he had only one place to win it back. After a hiatus of three years, a bulked-up yet sagacious Jones returned in a clash against Frenchman Ciryl Gane for the vacant Heavyweight title at UFC 285.
Jones relished his return with a seamless guillotine choke submission within two minutes and four seconds at the T-Mobile Arena in Nevada in March 2023, sending the fraternity into rapturous applause for one of its greatest conquerors. At 35, there’s nothing left to prove for Jones, who continues to rule the Octagon. While he prepares for a final hurrah, the inimitable fighter will still have to live with the odd jab on his questionable off-field sanctity.
- Youngest UFC champion: 23 years, 243 days
- Longest reign as Light Heavyweight champion in UFC history: 1501 days
- Eighth UFC fighter to become champion in multiple divisions
- Longest unbeaten streak in UFC history: 19 fights
- Most wins in UFC title fights: 15
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