About the only thing that has worked against Jon Jones so far is hoping he gets disqualified for using an illegal technique (as was the case against Matt Hamill in 2009) or hoping he gets popped by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (as happened after his second win over Daniel Cormier in 2017).
Otherwise, Jones is 25-1. He was dominating Hamill but suffered the loss on his record because of illegal elbow strikes. The Cormier win at UFC 214 was overturned to a no-contest.
UFC 247 takes place February 8 at 10 p.m. Eastern time. It will air as a pay-per-view on ESPN+.
That’s how dominant Jones, 32, from Rochester, N.Y., has been throughout his 12-year professional MMA career. In fact, if there’s been one constant in the UFC over the last decade, it’s that where other fighters rise and fall, Jones remains atop the mountain.
Because nobody beats Jon “Bones” Jones.
At least nobody really beats Jones, and here are some of the reasons why.
1. Supreme Athletic Gifts
Compared to other professional fighting sports, namely boxing, MMA is still relatively young in its development in growing into whatever it will become. Whatever the reason, the purist high-grade athletes in professional sports seem to gravitate toward the various different professions slowly over time.
The easiest example would exist in boxing. Consider the relative amazing physical qualities that boxers possess today from a purely athletic perspective and compare them to fighters from 50 years ago. Today’s boxers are bigger, faster and stronger, and just about every other sport in history displays that same kind of trajectory.
But Jones is a superb athlete. He stands 6 feet 4, possesses an incredibly long reach of over 84 inches, and still fits it all under the UFC’s 205-pound light heavyweight limit. In that respect, Jones is is just a step above most other MMA athletes in the world today. He’s the type of athlete who could travel in a time machine 50 years into the future and still be able to beat people up.
In that way, perhaps Jones is to MMA what “Sugar” Ray Robinson was to boxing. Robinson’s last fight was in 1965, yet today he’s still considered the best pound-for-pound boxer who ever lived. Like Jones, Robinson is the same type of super athlete. Put him 50 years in the future or past, and he’d still be equipped to win world championships.
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2. Jones Puts the ‘Art’ in Martial Artist
Jones isn’t just another fighter. Rather, he’s a true martial artist.
What that means is that Jones does the same thing any other kind of artist does in their preferred mediums. He uses his particular insight, skills and abilities to create something only he can create. It’s what all truly great artists achieve: self-actualization through the arts.
For fighters like Jones, it means Jones doesn’t try to fight like anyone else. Why would he? Would The Beatles at the peak of their powers try to sound exactly like Elvis? No. Instead, Jones takes different pieces of what he’s seen, learned, read or even dreamt about and puts them all together in a package all its own.
It’s part of the reason why Jones is just so far ahead of everyone else right now. He’s painting the canvas using his feelings and intuition as his guide while everyone else is trying to paint by numbers.
3. He’s Tough, Resilient and Downright Mean
Jones could possess both attributes already discussed and still find himself catching some losses here and there. Because no matter how great an athlete a fighter might be, and how much the fighter is doing calculus inside the Octagon against others who are still learning their basic multiplication tables, sometimes fights just come down to who is the roughest, toughest, most resilient or just plain meanest of the combatants.
Because when punches, kicks, elbows and everything else in-between are flying around at a hundred miles an hour, even the best of the best like Jones can sometimes find themselves in situations where only grinding it out will due.
Jones has been in these spots before, albeit rarely, but each time he’s answered the call. He was almost submitted by Vitor Bellfort in 2012 before rallying for his own submission win. He dislocated his toe against Chael Sonnen in 2013 but finished Sonnen before the end of the round to save the win before the fight could be stopped by the ringside doctor. He found himself in trouble against Alexander Gustafsson later that year but aggressively worked his way to the decision win. Heck, Jones had to dig down pretty deep just last year to defeat Thiago Santos at UFC 239.
Notice the trend? Jones always finds a way to win no matter how difficult the circumstance.
Some fighters just can’t or won’t get going when they absolutely have to do it. Some can only muster it a time or two. But Jones has yet to run into a challenge he couldn’t resolve himself to overcome at any cost.
4. Born to Fight?
Jones was born to fight.
Or perhaps it’s more correct to say that Jones believes he was born to fight. That much can be seen from how he chose to live his one and only life.
Jones was a stand-out high school wrestler in New York before going on to win a JUCO national championship. He made his professional fighting debut at age 21 and two years later became the UFC’s youngest divisional champion in history.
Jones’s single-minded approach to life makes him very hard to beat. He’s been training for the UFC for longer than most fans have even watched it, and he’s always adapting and getting better.
The two-time UFC light heavyweight champion has already beaten a slew of champions and other notables. Throughout his 21-year MMA career, Jones has beaten the likes of Ryan Bader (current Bellator double champion at heavyweight and light heavyweight), Mauricio Rua, Quentin Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Chael Sonnen, Daniel Cormier and more.
The scariest part? He could be on his way to doing the same thing over the next decade.
5. Contentment at Light Heavyweight
That’s something heard around gyms where fighters train, and it’s eventually true. Even fighters as great and dominant as Jones eventually find themselves up against younger, faster or just better fighters. Sometimes it’s all of those things at once plus an off-night from the champion to add insult to the injury.
Jones is no different. He’ll either lose someday legitimately or he’ll retire without having tested his limits.
So far in his carer, Jones has refused to move up to the heavyweight ranks. That’s something great fighters like Jones usually do when it becomes apparent that there just isn’t anyone else in their weight class that can really compete with them.
Jones has teased the idea a few times, but he’s never actually gone through with it. So part of Jones remaining virtually undefeated during his impressive MMA career simply has to be that he’s not yet tried his hand at hunting bigger game.
But that might happen soon. Jones has been linked to potential superfights at heavyweight in the past, most recently to former UFC heavyweight champion and WWE star Brock Lesnar, because Jones is running out of viable 205-pound challengers.
Eventually, someone either does the unthinkable and beats the unbeatable Jones at light heavyweight, or Jones finds himself in against a hulking behemoth like Francis Ngannou or crafty heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic.
Regardless, Jones might then find himself in some real trouble that he can’t escape. That, or he just keeps winning every single fight, which after going through all the reasons he’s been so tough to beat in the first place really doesn’t seem all that unreasonable at this point.
Jones faces Dominick Reyes in the main event of UFC 247 in Houston on Feb. 8. UFC 247 will be distributed exclusively in the U.S. via ESPN+ pay-per-view.