Last night, Jon Jones completely and utterly destroyed one of the best light heavyweights in the history of the sport. The fight lasted for 13 minutes and was competitive for maybe 15 seconds. It was probably the most one sided title fight ever to take place inside the Octagon.
Jon Jones has been training in MMA for 3 years. Not fighting in the UFC for 3 years, training for 3 years. When the carousel of champions at 205lbs began when Chuck Liddell got KO'd by Rampage Jackson in 2007, Jon Jones didn't even know he would be competing in MMA.
This would be a great timeline for a rising prospect to follow. Three years into training would be considered exceptional for even getting a shot at the UFC. That is the perfect amount of time to get a feel for the sport, get some fights on the regional circuit and build some confidence. To go from rookie to consensus best fighter in the division in that amount of time is mind blowing. And Jon Jones did it not by struggling, fighting wars, or being taken to the limit. He did it with ease. 8 fights into his UFC career, he hasn't even been challenged.
The Jon Jones era is upon us.
But how long will it last?
By accomplishing what he has, Jon Jones is setting a scary precedent. Bones is a freak athlete. In the world of MMA, athletes like him are few and far between. But in sports as a whole, there are many gifted athletes out there. Many athletes in college or professional sports right now could match the speed, power, agility, and intelligence of Jon Jones. In MMA, Jones has no contemporary in regards to athleticism. Yet.
Fans of the sport are predicting a reign atop the division for Jones that could last 10 years. It seems plausible, with Jones not even in his physical prime yet.But that amount of time in MMA is an eternity. When looking at potential challengers to the throne, not too many fighters are being given a realistic shot to challenge Jones. The problem that we face when determining how long Jones reign will last is that we don't know who that guy is that will top Jones in the future. In all likelihood, neither does the fighter who will do it.
By winning the most prestigious belt (arguably) in the UFC and sport of MMA, Jones has proven that it doesn't take years and years of experience to compete at the highest level of the sport. An athlete that starts training MMA tomorrow with the same physical gifts as Jones could be knocking on the door by the middle of 2013. A guy we have never even heard of could be at the pinnacle of the sport in 2-3 years. Sound crazy? It does to me too. But the same guy I thought was being sacrificed as a showcase fight for Stephan Bonnar is the untouchable king of the division just 2 years later.
Alot of things would have to go right. Jon Jones has made all the right decisions in his career thus far. He has aligned himself with one of the very best camps in the sport of MMA. He progressed along a steady chain of more challenging fights. He has been the most consistent fighter the sport of MMA has ever seen. But when proclaiming that Jon Jones will rule for a long time, his ascent needs to be considered. If he can do it, someone else can too. The sport of MMA is progressing at a break-neck pace. If Jon Jones has taught us anything, it is that we never know who the next great star will be.