Jon Jones, Michael Jordan of MMA

Jon Jones would appear in that Michael Jordan mid-1990s zone, a place where an elite athlete finds boredom in competition because competition simply doesn’t exist.

After steamrolling through a who’s who of mixed-martial arts in Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida, Vitor Belfort, Chael Sonnen, and Glover Teixiera, and in far more grueling battles, beating Alexander Gustaffson and Daniel Cormier, Jon Jones looks like a man without a match. There’s the rematch with the Swedish Mauler, provided he gets through Anthony Johnson. But repeats never replay like the original. Jon Jones has defeated everyone he needed to defeat at light heavyweight.

Maybe Jones could join his brothers in the NFL, the way Michael Jordan tried to reconnect with his deceased father through baseball, or perhaps take up knitting. Strangely, the 27-year-old still sounds like a man possessed. Jones explained on Fox Sports 1 after his decisive defeat of Daniel Cormier, “This is the year I have a lot to prove.”

Come again?

The lengthy light heavyweight says that “proving haters wrong” remains a “driving force.” Despite dispatching Cormier, who looked the better fighter through the first two rounds, Jones appeared eager to beat up his opponent in non-physical ways long after the horn sounded. “He almost hit Herb Dean,” Jones said of responding to Cormier’s post-horn punch with a rude gesture. “That’s why I gave him the ‘suck it’ sign.” He continued, perhaps aware of Cormier’s postfight breakdown, “I hope he’s somewhere crying right now.”

What makes Jon Jones sound like not the greatest guy helps make him the greatest fighter. He seeks to humiliate and not just beat opponents. He’s just not satisfied with great. He wants perfect.

He says he wants to return to the gym as soon as his bumps and bruises from Saturday night disappear, talks of training in his “offseason” for the first time, and vows to leave childish pastimes in the past. The best wants to get better.

This may be good news for UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez. “It’s just not true,” Jones insists, that he’s really a heavyweight who sucks weight to compete with the smaller guys. “I feel that if I really dug deep I could make 185.”

Still, Jones says he would not only fight Velasquez in a “heartbeat” but beat Daniel Cormier’s training partner. But more pressing matters attract the light heavyweight champion’s attention. “Jon ‘Bones’ Jones,” Gustafsson wrote, mimicking Georges. St. Pierre’s message to Matt Hughes, after the fight. “I am not impressed by your performance!”

He may be the only one.


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