It appears winning does cure everything. Thirteen months ago, the UFC was forced to cancel their first show under Zuffa’s watch after light heavyweight king Jon Jones (pictured) refused to accept a last-second scrap to headline the pay-per-view broadcast against Chael Sonnen.
Jones, who was originally slated to fight Dan Henderson in the September 1 card until a knee injury forced Hendo out, said he need more time to prepare for the opponent change.
UFC president Dana White was none too pleased. In fact, he threw Jones under the bus around every turn.
However, Jones went on to submit Vitor Belfort 20 days later at UFC 152, then TKO’d Sonnen in a one-sided beatdown seven months after that, and proceeded to become the UFC’s most decorated 205-pound champion by notching his sixth straight title defense by eking out a decision over Alexander Gustafsson last month at UFC 165.
After witnessing Jones’ torrid run, White has once again seen the light and has hopped back aboard the “Bones” bandwagon.
“Jones has had the toughest run of guys in the UFC,” White recently said of Jones. “I mean, to get to the belt and to defend the belt, Jones has had to go through hell. Yeah, and he’s the most accomplished.
“Never mind Tito Ortiz, let’s talk about Chuck Liddell, somebody who could actually really fight. Even Chuck Liddell, the things he accomplished and the things that he did, what Jon Jones has accomplished is greater than any light heavyweight, ever.”
Considering White is BFFs with Liddell, acknowledging Jones has surpassed “The Iceman” is significant – particularly when you take into account what Liddell meant to the promotion just as it was starting to take off in the mid-2000s.
Given White’s utter dislike for Ortiz, he would obviously never give him the nod over Liddell despite the fact Ortiz has one more successful title defense (5) and fought in two more championship affairs (9) than Liddell. What also helps White’s case – and likely brings a big Kool-Aid smile to his face – is that Liddell knocked Ortiz out in both of their highly-anticipated encounters.
Jones has already dominated five former UFC title holders, but what seems to impress White the most is the fact he’s not shying away from his proposed toughest challengers.
“I admire Jon Jones for wanting to fight [Glover Teixeira] next, and saying he’ll fight Gustafasson [again] after,” White said in closing.
Jones needs to defend his throne five more times to surpass former middleweight champ Anderson Silva as the UFC’s most decorated king. At his current pace, Jones would accomplish that feat before clocking the age of 29.