NEWARK, N.J. — Crimefighter by day and UFC champ by night, “superhero” Jon Jones is exactly the kind of fighter the UFC needs in its quest to enter new markets in New York and beyond.
Watching (Bones) Jones work the room at the post-fight press conference after winning the light heavyweight title by destroying Mauricio (Shogun) Rua at UFC 128, it’s clear this young man would be successful in anything he sets his mind to.
And he knows it, which is rare for a 23-year-old.
But Jones was also humble, making him even more endearing, as he spoke of his abilities after exiting the octagon virtually unscathed for the second time in six weeks.
“I really don’t see it as dangerous or flashy at all,” Jones said early Sunday at the Prudential Center. “I call it more like ‘unpredictable.’ ”
Believe it or not, Jones claims he initially learned to fight by watching YouTube.
The young phenom had the media, his fellow fighters and even his boss, Dana White, riveted as he recalled how the longest arms in the UFC lent a helping hand to the long arm of the law just hours before stepping into the cage with Shogun.
“Okay, here we go guys, put your seatbelts on,” Jones said, with a big smile and his even bigger gold belt in front of him. “So this is what happened, I was hanging out in my bat cave, right.”
The whole room erupted in laughter.
Jones went to a park in a “ghetto” neighbourhood north of Newark to meditate Saturday and he and two coaches suddenly found themselves chasing down a thief after a smash and grab on an elderly couple’s car.
The lanky 6-foot-4 fighter joked about how he was able to run ahead and catch up to the crook first thanks to his “gazelle legs.”
The bad guy was startled to see Jones on his heels and tripped over his own feet. He tried to get up, but Jones swept his leg and knocked him back down.
Coach Greg Jackson pounced on him while Jones locked his legs in a figure four and they held him for cops.
“We all felt like superheroes,” Jones said, adding he knew then karma would be on his side later that night.
The UFC president couldn’t be happier with his new champ.
White said the best part was Jones lecturing the crook, telling him: “People work really hard for their stuff and you stole it. You shouldn’t do that, you should choose a different path.”
Still stunned by Jones’ performance, White said he appeared to be “miles ahead of the competition” and joked he wouldn’t be surprised if the champ ended the day by delivering a baby as he left the arena.
While that didn’t happen, it begs the question, what’s next for Jones?
World hunger and global peace come to mind. But a fight against Rashad Evans is more likely.
Evans was originally booked for the title bout with Rua but had to pull out because of injury, so Jones stepped in.
White has promised Evans will still get his shot.
Jones and Evans weren’t keen on the idea initially because they train together and are friends. But their boss made sure both came around.
“They’re fighting!” White said at the press conference, eliminating any doubt.
All that remains is to determine when and where.
Jones looked like he could easily be ready to go again in another six weeks, but he plans to take some time off to spend with his family.
He’s basically been in training since Christmas.
As for where, the Rochester native told The Douce a day before winning the belt his dream is to one day defend his crown in Madison Square Garden.
The UFC made great strides while in the Garden State toward convincing New York to follow Ontario and overturn its MMA ban.
Jones’ citizens arrest surely will leave an impression on the state’s politicians, so anything is possible!
THIS AND THAT
Rashad Evans has decided to leave the Greg Jackson camp to prepare for his fight with teammate Jon Jones. He’ll likely head to the Grudge Training Center in Colorado, where middleweight Nate Marquardt trains.
As for Marquardt, he’s considering a move down to welterweight after beating Dan Miller at UFC 128, a move that could put him in the mix for a title shot if GSP vacates his belt to take on Anderson Silva in a superfight.
The winner of B.J. Penn — Jon Fitch 2 has already been assured a shot at that title.
Speaking of Silva and superfights, there’s now talk of Spider moving up to light heavyweight to battle Jones. What a spectacular fight that would be! ... UFC ring girl Brittney Palmer wants to pose for Playboy, but she hasn’t been asked yet.
Her colleague, Arianny Celeste, appeared in the November issue of the men’s magazine. And Chandella Powell was a Playboy bunny before becoming a ring girl last year.