After a tension-filled and eggshelled UFC 152 weekend, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones emerged as the victor in his title fight against contender Vitor Belfort. Yeah, that was definitely a mouthful.
The bout was not without drama when, in the first round, Belfort threw up a solid arm-bar attempt on Jones. Thus creating, what we can now call, the most formidable 10 seconds in Jones’ illustrious career. While watching the fight, I couldn’t help but feel that the young light heavyweight champ was fighting for more than just his title.
In a sense, he was. Public perception has been less than favorable for the polarizing Jones. While taking criticism for his disconnection with mixed martial arts fans, fighters and most recently the UFC, Jones seemingly finds himself in just about everyone’s crosshairs. Yet, like any great metaphor, Saturday night Jones began to break free of the perception that has plagued him thus far in his career. Much like he did against Belfort’s arm-bar.
Jones displayed more fortitude then I, admittedly, gave him credit for during the fight. Sure, he’d been challenged before, but, like a genius who might stumble over one SAT question yet still manage to pull a 1,600, the reality is he’s plowed through all the competition. UFC 152 did something for Jones that no public relations team could ever achieve — it made Superman look more like Clark Kent.
Let’s be honest. That’s all we, as MMA fans, really wanted. We needed to know that at some point Superman was still half human and that Jones, like the rest of us, could stumble, struggle or even fall. But here‘s the dirty public relation secret no one wants to talk about — MMA fans will always connect better with fighters that struggle. Why? Because we all struggle. It’s the human condition and while many fighters fit that paradigm, the paradox of Jon Jones is his ability to win fights with, seemingly, little effort.
Whether or not public opinion about Jones has changed, the fact remains, UFC 152 revealed all the best qualities of the light heavyweight champ. Dominant, composed, determined and, the only ‘noun’ that matters, winner.
Perhaps the most important moment of Jones’ title fight was those 10 seconds where the possibility of defeat became a close reality. This gave an opponent something he has never had before — a chance.
In the end Jones proved, once again, why he’s the champion. Coming back from adversity and winning, impressively I might add. And isn’t that the true test of public opinion? If I’m Jon Jones that’s what I’m banking my success on, the old cliché “winning cures everything,” because, frankly, that’s all he has right now. If that’s the case, in Toronto last Saturday night, the UFC light heavyweight champion did just that … he won. So riddle me this, Batman.
Does Saturday’s UFC 152 performance change your opinion of Jones? If so, is it for better or worse? Let me know on Twitter.
Scott Levesque writes a weekly column for the Clarion on mixed martial arts. He will cover MMA at the local, state and national levels. His handle on Twitter is @scottlevesque.