Jones chokes Machida into la-la-land

Jon Jones (right) fights Lyoto Machida during UFC 140 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ont.,...

Jon Jones (right) fights Lyoto Machida during UFC 140 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ont., Dec. 10, 2011. (STAN BEHAL/QMI Agency)

NEIL SPRINGER, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:40 AM ET

TORONTO - Jon Jones passed his toughest test to date with flying colours, choking Lyoto Machida unconscious in the main event of UFC 140 Saturday.

Machida frustrated Jones early with his elusive footwork and explosive punching. As a result, Machida won the first round, surprising Jones with his speed. He picked his moments and then unloaded, forcing Jones to retreat. At one point, Machida wobbled him after countering a leg kick with a straight-left.

Jones admitted he was caught off-guard by the shot.

“No, he didn’t have me hurt, but he did punch me pretty good,” Jones said. “He wobbled me a bit. One of my criticisms is I can’t take a punch. So I’m glad to survive a big hit.

“He had great tactics and was definitely a tough puzzle to solve.”

Jones may have down-played Machida’s punch a bit, but everyone in the Air Canada Centre could smell the upset as he tumbled backwards.

Jones then mixed things up in the second, taking Machida to the mat and busting him open with a stiff elbow. The round was briefly halted so the doctor could inspect the cut.

Jones said he was surprised Machida wasn’t more active on the ground.

“I know Lyoto’s a black belt, so I was expecting some commotion on the bottom,” Jones said. “But he didn’t move much.”

After stumbling Machida with a counter left, Jones pounced on him and locked in a nasty standing guillotine choke against the cage. Referee John McCarthy stepped in after seeing Machida go limp. Jones released the hold and Machida slumped to the mat.

“It’s definitely a move I practice,” Jones said “It comes natural from practising wrestling for so many years. I could tell after a while (that he went out).”

The victory puts Jones up there with the likes of Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz and Frank Shamrock as fighters who have successfully defended the light-heavyweight title more than once.

Liddell last achieved the feat when he knocked out Randy Couture for a second time at UFC 57 on Feb. 2, 2006. Of course, he went on to defend it two more times. The light-heavyweight division has long been filled with tough fighters and a combination of injuries and competition has caused the championship to change hands frequently over the years.

Though he’s only 24 years old, Jones has once again shown why he is the future of the sport. No one doubted his athletic gifts, penchant for unorthodox striking and ability to utilize his insane reach. But now he’s proven that he can deviate from his initial game plan and make adjustments mid-way through the course of a fight.

With the victory, Jones has put an exclamation point on perhaps the single best year of any fighter in UFC history. This year alone, he has submitted Machida, Quinton (Rampage) Jackson and Ryan Bader, and beaten Mauricio (Shogun) Rua via TKO.

Four tough opponents, four stunning finishes.

Who Jones faces next is up in the air at this point. He’s admitted that he will be taking some time off. How long that lasts is up to him, but you have to think he will be watching January’s fight between rival Rashad Evans and Phil Davis. Not to mention Strikeforce light-heavyweight champion Dan Henderson is waiting for his crack at UFC gold after winning an epic decision over Rua.

Regardless of what he does next, 2011 will be remembered as the year of Jones. He’s already inked his name in the record books by both winning a championship and defending it twice within the same 12-month span.


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