Later this month Jon Jones will defend his UFC light heavyweight title for a remarkable fourth time since becoming the youngest champion in UFC history. He'll do so under a hailstorm of scrutiny, but in many ways, this is nothing new for "Bones."
Nearly a year ago to the day before of his upcoming UFC 152 clash, the newly-crowned Jones (16-1) was set for an inaugural title defense at UFC 135 against mean-mugging Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (32-10), a former champion himself, renowned for his sharp tongue just as much as his hands of stone.
"Rampage" was believed to present a whole new list of challenges for Jones, both inside and outside of the Octagon. And soon, for the first time in his life, Jones found himself submerged in the magnified lens of the public eye, as Jackson embarked on a relentless media tour from Jimmy Kimmel Live! to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, lobbing shots that the 24-year-old was cocky, phony, and disrespectful to any microphone within earshot. The tactic was simple -- get in the kid's head and he'll start to crumble. However, once all the theatrics were stripped down and it was just two men locked in a cage, Jackson's bravado did little to affect the young champion, who responded with a dramatic and decisive statement to the rest of the 205-pound division. Relieve Jon Jones' first career title defense in its entirety below.
For an extra kick of nostalgia, feel free to follow along with our old-school play-by-play.
Round 1: A crouching Jones comes forward on his hands and knees to start the fight, which Jackson probably wasn't expecting. Jackson swats down at him and Jones reaches for a leg, but settles for the clinch after taking a knee to the gut. They battle for position against the fence and Jones lands a nice short elbow. The action stalls in the clinch, and the crowd isn't happy about it. They separate on their own and go to the center of the cage. Jones flicks out a few kicks to keep Rampage on the outside. Jackson tries to work his way in close and Jones grabs him in a clinch and nearly trips him to the mat. Looping hook from Jackson, then a head kick from Jones. Jones mixes up the kicks all over Jackson's body, and Jackson has little answer for them at the moment. Jones hops up in the air but does nothing, and Jackson rushes in only to get clinched again. Big spinning head kick by Jones missed a ducking Jackson in the final ten seconds. Jackson attacks with a series of heavy, looping hooks, but Jones avoids almost all of them. MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9 for Jones.
Round 2: "Find your range!" Jackson's boxing coach, Mark Kinney, shouted at him in the corner. He comes out for the second and catches a Jones kick before coming forward with hooks. Jones avoids them, and just gets out of the way of a big uppercut moments later. Jones lands a nice straight left and Jackson nods at him. Jackson trying to bob and weave his way in, and Jones has his chin dangerously high as he backs away from the hooks. More kicks from Jones, then he reaches for the clinch. He's not letting Jackson work once he gets within a certain range. It's smart, until they have to disengage. Good left hand counter by Jackson to a Jones leg kick. Jones knocks Jackson back with a spinning back kick to the body. Jackson comes forward behind a nice left hook. Less than minute left in the round now. Jones lands a left, then a straight right. He superman punches his way into a clinch and eyes the clock. With less than ten seconds, Jones pulls guard and tries a triangle, but there's no time left to work. MMA Fighting scores it 10-9 for Jones.
Round 3: Jones locks up a standing front headlock, then slips off and has to dodge some hooks on his way back out. Jones targeting Jackson's legs with kicks now, then shoots for a double-leg and puts Jackson on his back. Jones easily goes from side control to full mount. He struggles to free his hands so he can drop some elbows, but Jackson's making it tough. Jackson pushes him off and gets to his feet in the scramble, though he's cut around his right eye. A front kick by Jones snaps into Jackson's jaw. Jackson lunges with a hook, but hits only air. He seems to be getting slightly desperate and maybe a little winded, so Jones does a little shuffle to show how fresh he is. Jumping knee by Jones in the final minute of the round. Jones looks off to one side and then flicks out a straight left. Jones shoots in at the horn and flips Jackson over him as he walks off to his corner without looking back. MMA Fighting scores it 10-9 for Jones.
Round 4: They touch them up to start and Jones lands a glancing blow, but Jackson wobbles backwards as if he's badly hurt. Seems like he's playing possum here, and Jones approaches cautiously. Jones slips off a kick attempt and Jackson comes forward, but can't capitalize. They clinch up and Jones gets the takedown against the fence. Jackson turns and gives up his back and Jones locks up a rear naked choke. Jackson can't do much to defend as Jones rolls him over and squeezes. He tries to fight for one of Jones' hands, but it's too late. He has to tap. Jon Jones has successfully defended his light heavyweight title.
Jon Jones def. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson via submission (rear naked choke) at 1:14 of round 4