Jon Jones may be another kid from New York, but he is rapidly becoming the most well-known and successful fighter in the UFC. There are many fighters who have come before him with much larger legacies and developed careers, but the potential of Jon Jones is very apparent. He only needs to stay on the path.
Jon “Bones” Jones is the current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, and became the youngest UFC champion in history at 23 years old in 2011. To say Jones has been on a tear in his division is a gross understatement. The dynamic kid out of Jackson’s MMA has been staying active and fighting former champs, further sketching his legacy.
But Jon Jones is still making sketches.
Taking a step down 20 pounds, you find a man who is a true artist in his craft and has painted a legacy grander than any other athlete that has graced a cage.
This man is Anderson Silva. No opponent has been able to flush “The Spider” out of his position and he continues to set a higher bar with each fight. Silva in his career now is making finishing touches to his masterpiece, but that is not to sell short any of his opponents henceforth; nor is it to indicate his career is at an end right away. Silva has cemented his legacy, even if he were to retire tomorrow. However, Silva seems intent on competing, and his performances don’t show any sign of why he couldn’t keep going.
Anderson Silva is arguably the greatest of all time in MMA, and while there is always subjective debate, it is hard to deny his skill and statistics. But on the rise is, the younger Jon Jones, quickly gaining fame and notoriety.
But what does he need to do to match the legacy of Anderson Silva, or even surpass it?
Needless to say, Jones has quite a ways to go in regards to statistics and time put into the sport. By the time Jon Jones had his first professional MMA fight, Silva had attained the UFC Middleweight championship and defended it three times and was riding a seven-fight win streak with a career of 23-4. Silva is currently 32-4 and Jones is 16-1. Statistically, it is hard to compare; especially since Silva has more Knockout victories than Jones has total fights.
“Bones” has expressed interest in moving up to Heavyweight at some point, and there are plenty of big name matchups to be made that would generate very high revenue. Aside from money, Jones fighting in another weight class would aid in matching the legacy of Anderson Silva, who has fought up a weight class twice, earning two first-round knockouts.
Jon Jones is on a terrific path, and he must remain focused on what has made him successful, but continue to evolve and improve. While Jones does possess one of the longest reaches in UFC history and some very unorthodox and brutal striking, he lacks the technicality that Silva has shown in his career. The accuracy of the Brazilian superstar is unmatched, but if Jones can continue to improve his striking, even greater success will follow.
Jones has shown his strength, wrestling, and submissions fortes; but his striking sometimes looks sloppy. Not that it is atrocious, but certainly could use some tweaking. This alteration could potentially lead to spectacular finishes and “of the night” performances; all the things fans clamor for and remember most.
One major factor that is at play is his ability to not deviate from the mental path that has brought him to where he is. He is an excellent poster-boy for the UFC, and shows a humble and spiritual characteristic that is sometimes vacant from some other fighters. Jones has had his troubles recently with his debacle with former training partner Rashad Evans, as well as his poor choice of drinking and driving in recent news. These factors take away some of the shimmer that the UFC light had shed, but it doesn’t take away what he can do in the cage.
His life outside of the cage might be affecting his popularity, but if he can mentally stay humble, despite his rapid success; he can be unstoppable. Fame has a way of breaking some people, and Jones must overcome that and never become complacent. Silva has shown that his intelligence is an on-going strength of him, similar to the likes of Georges St. Pierre and others, but Jones is still young and still on the rise.
There are many fights left ahead of him, and many more years of time that the can truly draw out his legacy. He has made an excellent blueprint for himself, but he must be able to follow it, adapt as needed, and ultimately finish the project he started.
Rankings and fans in general are making cases for Jones being the pound-for-pound best right now, but that crown belongs to “The Spider”. When Silva does retire, there will be a passing of the torch to whomever is the one on top; and if Jones does not stray from his roots, he will be king of the hill. But before any hopes of unseating Silva, he must first do what “The Spider” has done, and get through Dan Henderson when they meet at UFC 151.