light heavyweight champion Jon Jones
says he'll be better than ever when he steps into the Octagon with Lyoto Machida
at UFC 140
Jones said on The MMA Hour
that he's been training four times a day, and that he's physically stronger, in better shape and a better mixed martial artist than he's ever been before.
"Judging on my numbers in the weight room, judging on my numbers in the cardio tests, it's the best I've ever been," Jones said. "I'm the best fighter that I've ever been right now."
If that's true it would be bad news for Machida, as in Jones's last two fights he had no trouble running through two fighters who have previously beaten Machida, Shogun Rua and Rampage Jackson. Jones also said that he believes that dealing with Rampage before their previous fight -- when Rampage frequently denigrated Jones -- has made him mentally stronger.
"Rampage elevated me in a way of being able to handle future opponents who are going to get under my skin and try to trash talk me," Jones said.
As Jones has become one of the freshest faces and brightest young stars in the UFC, there's been something of a backlash among MMA fans , and Jones said he hears from fans on Twitter who tell him he's too cocky or arrogant. Jones said he's not sure what he's done to inspire that kind of backlash, but he has learned to accept it.
"I could see if I was Floyd Mayweather," Jones said, referring to the brash boxing champ who seems to delight in making fans hate him. "I deal with it by realizing that not everyone's going to love you."
Although Jones has become a star, he says that hasn't changed who he is deep down -- even though he has changed as a fighter and become, in his own mind, better than ever.
"In high school I got the free lunch because we didn't have the finances to go to Wendy's for lunch like the other kids," Jones said. "That I got good at fighting ... that changes nothing about the real world. I have changed as an athlete -- I believe in my heart that I'm the best, I believe I won't lose to Lyoto, or Rashad [Evans
], or [Dan] Henderson
or any of the other guys. ... As 'Bones' I'm growing and yeah I'm a little cocky and it's important to be that way. But as Jonathan, in the real world, everyone who meets me will say I treated them with the utmost respect."