Jones was recently in Baltimore making the media rounds to promote his upcoming April 26 fight against Glover Teixeira, and he had had a long morning. Jones, his manager and members of the UFC's PR team had travelled to multiple radio and television stations before arriving at a downtown hotel to hold court with print and Internet media. In order for Jones to hit the morning news shows he had been on the run for several hours. An ice storm had extended his day, leaving Jones no time for lunch.
When Jones arrived at the table of media members - his UFC light heavyweight title belt serving as the centerpiece, his lunch was waiting. Jones took a few bites of his sandwich, and opened the get together for questions.
One member of the group, who had covered boxing in the past, but never mixed martial arts, seemed somewhat stunned by the lack of chest pounding and finger-pointing from Jones and Teixeira. It seemed as if he was expecting some type of over the top bombast from the two fighters, but what he got were two fighters that were nothing but respectful of each other. Jones explained why that was, "I'm not here to be somebody I'm not. This is our job, and I'm here to do the art the way that I do it, and I think there's a lot of traditional martial artists out here that respect that we're not being idiots and embarrassing martial arts. We're carrying ourselves the way that martial artists carry themselves. Something about being a martial artist, in my mind, it's respect."
Another reason for the absence of any over the top antics, is that Jones and Teixeira are really good at what they do, and they are both aware of that fact, as Jones said, "I respect what he's done to people, and I know he respects what I've done to people."
Inevitably the conversation eventually turned to Jones' last fight, a five round battle with Alexander Gustafsson. That fight ended with Jones' hand being raised in victory, but before that happened, Jones took a beating at the hands of his Swedish opponent. The damage that he absorbed sent Jones to the hospital causing him to miss the post-fight press conference. He was not alone at the hospital, Gustafsson made the trip as well.
Jones spoke of that fight, his record setting sixth UFC light heavyweight title defense saying, "I honestly believe, as an artist, as a creative artist, that it's not always in our control the way our performances are. I believe there's an energy that comes over an artist that watches over them. Like being in the zone, you can't always control being in the zone or even getting into the zone. You can be a person that trains every day, eats healthy, (be) so dedicated and just not get in the zone the right way, and that zone is something that's kind of out of my control."
That zone eluded Jones on the night he stepped into the Octagon against Gustafsson in Toronto, something his family said they noticed as he made his way from the Air Canada Centre dressing room and walked toward the cage, "My family said, 'Jon, when you walk out the Octagon we get this feeling that something cool is about to happen. We feel like a power', and they were saying 'we just didn't feel it from you. You just came out bland, flat, dry, you had nothing.' I felt like I had nothing. I went out there and I performed very dry, very going through the motions, and that's how I felt the entire time."
Despite the fact that he came out flat, despite the fact that he felt he was going through the motions, Jones still came out of the fight with a win, and along with that win, a lesson. "I had an opponent that was out there, young, same age as me, same height as me, extremely ambitious, trying to win the fight, training his hardest, and he still came up short," Jones said. "What that lets me know is that even when I'm not at my best I still have the heart to find a way. I kicked it up into that championship gear that all champions do have and found a way."
Jones does not expect that same fate to befall him when he fights at UFC 172 in Baltimore, a city he referred to as his adopted hometown, "What I'm hoping is that with this Glover fight I'll be back to my usual self, totally in the zone and have a dominating victory like I used to."
Jones will carry a record of 19-1 into his fight with Teixeira. Of those fights, seven have been for a UFC title, and only two of those have gone the distance. The only two other fights that he heard the final horn in were his first two fights in the UFC. All told Jones has finished 15 fights, nine by knockout and six by submission.
He may have one loss on his record, but Jones said he still considers himself undefeated since the loss came due to a disqualification for throwing illegal 12-to-6 elbows. In discussing that loss to Matt Hamill, UFC president Dana White once said it was due to "a moronic referee who had no idea what he was doing."
One of the more interesting things said by Jones were his comments on being a creative artist. That's not something we often consider when it comes to mixed martial arts, but in Jones' mind, we should, "There's standard moves, and then there's just being creative, creating a move that's never been seen, doing funky things that people just don't do, and that's where you get the art. Seeing what your opponent is going to do, just being able to see things before they happen, that's the art."
As to how you get there, Jones said that's a combination of two things, "The creative side, and the work ethic side, they match, and that's where masterpieces are created. That's when those fights are created where you didn't even get hit, and it seemed like those things came easy to you, and I felt like I had that my whole career except for that last fight. So, what I'm excited to see is my zone coming back."
Oh, and that sandwich, an hour after the conversation had begun, it sat on the table in front of Jones - forgotten.
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