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Remembering Jon Jones’s shock UFC title win ten years on

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It’s ten years to the day since 23-year-old Jon Jones seized the moment to become the UFC’s youngest ever champion.

A decade later, nobody younger has been able to eclipse Jones’ feat when he took the light heavyweight championship from Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in stylish fashion at UFC 128.

Speaking to ESPN’s Jeff Wagenheim, the title fight saw Jones defeat Rua by TKO in Round 3, a beating to Rua which Wagenheim had never seen before.

“I was at that fight,” recalled Wagenheim.

“I remember watching the fight thinking, ‘well, yeah, it’s one thing to go out and beat Ryan Bader or Brandon Vera, people who are pretty good, but now he’s going to be in there with Shogun’.

“Is this going to be too much too soon?

“And we pretty quickly came to recognise, no, it is not too much too soon.

“I remember watching him treat Rua like Rua had no chance.

“He (Jones) treated him like he was not even a threat.

“He was way bigger, I mean, that was the other thing.

“You saw these two guys come together in the cage, it looked like they belonged in different weight classes.

“Jones just pretty much did whatever he wanted to do against Shogun, and I’ve seen Shogun lose before, but I’ve never seen anybody do that.”

On the night of the fight, Jones made history, but earlier in the day, he made headlines for entirely different reasons.

Along with his coaching team of Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn, Jones subdued an attempted robber who had broken into a woman’s car.

The robber had smashed into a woman’s car and stolen her GPS, which then led to Jones and his team saving the day, hours before the biggest night of his Mixed Martial Arts career.

For Wagenheim, the incident added another layer of personality to the character of Jones.

“He was the superhero,” said Wagenheim.

“He had not only got out there and defeated a great fighter in the sport’s history, but he demolished him, and he did it hours after doing something heroic out in the community.

“So really that night, Jon Jones, the world was his.

“He had just done something, both in the octagon and miles away from the arena, that really kind of created this legend.”

The victory in Newark, New Jersey, also gave the UFC a new face of the organisation.

With only one loss, which is albeit majorly disputed, Jones’ near-invincibility is something that the UFC has successfully promoted ever since he won the championship.

“It gave the UFC someone who is indomitable, and there aren’t too many of those,” said Wagenheim on what the victory did for the organisation.

“It also gave the UFC an African American star, this sport has always had some African American athletes in it, but this was a guy who just took it to another level.

“Mostly the fight installed Jon Jones as this great champion, and despite all of the ups-and-downs that have happened since then, he’s been unstoppable in the cage, and that in itself is something the UFC can always bank on.”

Despite his decade of dominance, Jones has been stripped of the light heavyweight title on multiple occasions, successfully winning it back every time.

In April of 2015, Jones was stripped of the title after a hit-and-run incident.

Jones would then be stripped of the title in both 2016 and 2017 for testing positive for banned substances.

The greatest of all time debate in Mixed Martial Arts will always have Jones’ name in the rankings, but Wagenheim feels that the controversies have somewhat tarnished his legacy.

“The fact that he’s failed multiple drug tests does tarnish his legacy at least calls it into question,” stated Wagenheim.

“I still think he certainly has to be in the conversation for the greatest ever, but I’ve always been a bit of a stickler for that.

“I’ve always maintained that Georges St. Pierre is the guy that has never failed the drug test.

“So if someone asked me who I’m holding up as the GOAT, I’m going to say GSP.

“Whereas the other people who are mentioned as candidates, Jon Jones, Anderson Silva, they failed drug tests.

“So for me, the drug test failures, while they don’t disqualify Jones, are a mark against him.”

Whilst a mark against him, Wagenheim notes that Jones can move closer towards GOAT status if he is successful in his upcoming decision to move to heavyweight.

“Moving up to heavyweight, and conquering a whole new domain of fighters, that would give him something that someone like GSP never had in some respects,” revealed Wagenheim.

“If Jones goes up and dominates the heavyweight division, you know, I could see him pushing him past GSP to the point where even despite the PED failures, he still would reign as the greatest ever.”

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