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Jon
Jones
made plenty of enemies during his rise to power in the

Ultimate Fighting Championship
light heavyweight division.

The
Jackson-Wink MMA
representative has enjoyed two title reigns
spanning nearly 2,000 days in the 205-pound weight class, his
status as a transcendent mixed martial artist brought into question
only by his baffling self-destructive behavior outside the cage.
Multiple arrests and suspensions cloud his legacy but have thus far
had no discernible impact on his performance. In compiling a 26-1
record against top-shelf opposition, Jones has turned away every
viable challenger to his light heavyweight throne, some on more
than one occasion. The 32-year-old Rochester, New York, native last
appeared at UFC 247 on Feb. 8, when he took a unanimous decision
from the previously unbeaten Dominick
Reyes
.

As Jones awaits his next assignment, a look at some of the
rivalries upon which he has built his candidacy as the greatest
fighter of all-time:

Cormier twice fell short of Jones. (Photo: Getty
Images)



Cormier talked the talk, but like the all other challengers who
preceded him, he fell short of walking the walk against Jones.
“Bones” maintained his stranglehold on the light heavyweight title
with a resounding unanimous decision against Cormier in the UFC 182
main event on Jan. 3, 2015 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las
Vegas. All three judges awarded the champion four of the five
rounds, as he exited the cage with a 49-46 marks across the board.
Jones stifled the two-time Olympian in the clinch, executed
multiple takedowns in the championship rounds, piled up points with
a variety of standup techniques and weathered several encounters
with Cormier uppercuts in the highly anticipated five-round affair.
Some three months later, the UFC stripped Jones of his title after
he tested positive for cocaine and allegedly left the scene of a
hit-and-run accident.

The result of their rematch was far more decisive at first glance.
Jones reclaimed the undisputed light heavyweight crown in the UFC
214 headliner, as he stopped Cormier with a third-round head kick
and follow-up ground-and-pound on July 29, 2017 at the Honda Center
in Anaheim, California. The end came 3:01 into Round 3. However,
Jones tested positive for an anabolic steroid and saw the result
overturned to a no contest, the UFC responding once again by
stripping him of his championship. Bad blood between Jones and the

American Kickboxing Academy
captain continues to boil.

Gustafsson challenged Jones like no one else had inside the
Octagon. (Photo: Getty Images)



It was the type of fight that shortens careers and lengthens
legacies. Jones kept the light heavyweight crown under his wing
with a hard-earned unanimous decision over Gustafsson in the UFC
165 main event on Sept. 21, 2013 at the Air Canada Centre in
Toronto. “Bones” swept the scorecards with 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46
nods from the judges. Gustafsson challenged Jones like no one else
had inside the Octagon. He opened a cut over the Jackson-Wink MMA
ace’s right eye in the first round, blasted away with multi-punch
combinations and appeared to leave him frustrated and bewildered at
various points during the 25-minute encounter. Jones mounted a late
surge and was particularly effective in the fourth round, where he
came close to stopping the Swede after landing one of his patented
spinning elbows to his forehead. Despite exhaustion and the copious
amount of punishment he had absorbed, Jones found the wherewithal
to deliver his only takedown of the fight in the fifth round before
belting Gustafsson with a series of kicks to the head. Though “The
Mauler” never went down, the points had been banked.

When they met for a second time five years later, the gap between
the two men appeared to have widened significantly. Jones reclaimed
the undisputed light heavyweight championship with a third-round
technical knockout of Gustafsson in the UFC 232 headliner on Dec.
29, 2018 at The Forum in Inglewood, California. “Bones” brought it
to a close 2:02 into Round 3, moving to 2-0 in his head-to-head
series with the Swede. Jones was again masterful inside the cage.
Gustafsson too often found himself stuck in between, either too far
away to do damage with his hands or close enough to be drawn into
rabbit-hole clinches with his rival. Early in the third round,
Jones swooped in for a takedown, elbowed the
Alliance MMA
rep from half guard and utilized a half nelson to
transition to the back. Once he secured his position, “Bones”
dropped punches on Gustafsson until referee Mike Beltran had seen
enough.

Evans struggled to bypass Jones’ enormous reach advantage.
(Photo: Getty Images)



Jones took a world-class fighter and made him look utterly
ordinary. He controlled the distance, unveiled a seemingly endless
bag of tricks and tightened his stranglehold on the 205-pound
weight class when he defeated his former friend and training
partner by unanimous decision to retain his light heavyweight
championship in the UFC 145 main event on April 21, 2012 at Philips
Arena in Atlanta. All three judges saw it for Jones: 49-46, 49-46
and 50-45. Evans, like others who had preceded him, struggled to
bypass Jones’ enormous reach advantage. He landed a clean head kick
in the first round that seemed to rattle the champion and delivered
a stout right hand in the third. Beyond that, he fought mostly with
his back to the cage, eating punches and kicks from a distance.
Jones punctuated the victory with a strong fifth round, as he
backed up a jab with a crisp right hand, uncorked a knee from the
clinch and executed the only takedown of the bout. Evans scrambled
free, perhaps wary of his counterpart’s infamous elbow strikes on
the ground, but his fate had long been sealed.


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