I got chills as soon as I saw this. I have seen this picture a thousand times and it says a thousand things. You’ve seen it too. A young upstart is in front, excited, loud. The old lion stands in the back eyeing him. Quiet. Knowing. The word is sorely misused and overused, but this is classic.
Jon Jones: "God is so good. I feel so great. I’m going for a world title, baby. Let’s do it!"
Mauricio Rua comes in, nonchalant: "I respect Jon Jones, but I’m a professional fighter. No problem."
Jones fights a young man’s fight. He fights like someone who doesn’t think he can lose. Every challenge for him is a wild ride and he throws himself into it with abandon. Does that remind you of anyone?
Take yourself out of a fan’s shoes for a moment. Imagine you’re Rua. You can see past the flash. You see another fighter like all fighters you’ve faced: a conquerable challenge. You look at him like you know of worlds he’s only seen in his dreams. This kid. He doesn’t know what he’s gotten himself into.
He’s never left his soul in the ring with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. How many countries has he fought in? He's only seen the inside of Chute Boxe in his fantasies. He hasn’t had his arm broken in a fight. He was never PRIDE’s uncrowned champion, fallen. He hasn’t been low and lower and risen again.
He’s business as usual. That’s all.
Jones is high off his win, high off the chance to prove himself. He’s screaming, amping himself up. Rua knows what it’s like. He was the original 23-year-old wonder. Once upon a time he did everything Jones did, and more. That was five years ago. Five years is forever in this sport. He looks at Jones like Son, you don’t know where I’ve been.
This is one of the best MMA photos I’ve ever seen. It taps into a story, a showdown we’re all familiar with, and which will never become trite as long as combat sports exist. Two sides of the same coin. His present, his future. This is the best story you're going to get in MMA, better than any revenge tale. And it's all real.-- photo via Scott Petersen, mmaweekly.com