After thrashing Chael Sonnen this past Saturday at UFC 159, reigning light heavyweight king Jon Jones tied Tito Ortiz (pictured) for the most successful 205-pound title defenses in Octagon history.
While Jones is still one win away from solidifying his spot as the promotion’s most decorated champion in the division, UFC president Dana White believes Jones has already surpassed the UFC Hall of Famer given the time and level of competition in which Jones did it against.
“The way you got to look at it is, Tito’s entire career as long as he was here, Jon Jones broke that record in like two years,” White stated after UFC 159. “That year-and-a-half run [Jones] went on of just annihilating all the top guys – he did it in two years.
“First of all, he’s the youngest champion ever. He does this thing in two years – breaks the record of a guy who spent how long in the UFC? Tito was here before I was here, and that was 13 years. He did it in two years, pretty amazing.”
Jones captured the title at 23 (and 243 days) by disposing of Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. He proceeded to steamroll four previous UFC title holders in Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans and Vitor Belfort.
Ortiz, meanwhile, won his belt by beating Wanderlei Silva. His defenses came against Yuki Kondo, Evan Tanner, Elvis Sinosic, Vladimir Matyushenko and Ken Shamrock. Only Tanner and Shamrock were ever UFC champions.
Nonetheless, Ortiz is one of MMA’s true pioneers. That’s a fact that has not been lost on Jones. The 25-year-old admits to admiring Ortiz for paving the way for fighters like him.
White isn’t surprised that “Bones” is an Ortiz fan. “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” (that’s how I will remember him, because everybody knows The Rock is the only one who is allowed to go by “The People’s Champ”) was the face of the Ultimate Fighting Championship before the UFC became THE UFC.
“The thing is, a lot of guys that were coming up and a lot of kids liked Tito. Just I didn’t,” White said. “A lot of people liked Tito. A lot of people had fun watching Tito. Tito was a part of big fights, exciting fights.
“I can understand why a lot of these guys growing up were Tito fans.”
After seeing Jones join his exclusive one-man club, Ortiz pondered ending his retirement in order to keep “Bones” from supplanting him.
“Well I may have to come out of retirement to beat @JonnyBones I can’t let I’m beat my record,” the 38-year-old Ortiz tweeted.
Oh, Tito. That’s cute.