Mason “The Dragon” Jones has quickly become a household name in UK MMA, having risen to stardom in lightning-quick fashion. Hailing from Blaenavon, South Wales, Mason stands undefeated at 9-0 and recently became the Cage Warriors lightweight champion. With his eyes now firmly set on another world title, and a potential UFC contract looming in the distance, The Dragon certainly has a bright future ahead of him in MMA, but it may surprise you to know this wasn’t always his sport of choice.
The Dragon Switches Lanes
Before MMA, Mason Jones began his combat sports career as a boxer. Making his pro debut in 2016, he secured a decision victory over Marcin Cybulski. Soon after, he collected another two victories in quick succession. Within 6 months of beginning his pro career, he was 3-0.
Clearly he’d made an impression, as it became increasingly difficult to find opponents willing to chance a fight with him. Fortunately, despite a preference for boxing, Mason’s skillset was remarkably diverse. At just 23 years old Jones was a national Judoka champion and a brown belt in BJJ. So after some consideration, The Dragon switched lanes to MMA – utilizing his range of skills in a sport where willing changers would hopefully be easier to find.
Mason made his pro-MMA debut in October 2017, 9 short months after his last boxing match. He fought Shaun Luther at Cage Warriors 87, and his boxing chops were on full display. Cutting unorthodox angles and doling out creative combinations, his previous experience served him well. But beyond the striking, Mason proved himself a natural at MMA, mixing in some excellent Judo throws and easily controlling his opponent on the ground over all 3 rounds.
Luther had heart and offered considerable resistance, but Mason was too much for him. He caught Luther in a rear-naked choke near the end of the third round. With a finish victory in his first MMA fight, and by submission no less, Mason had clearly made the right call.
The Dragon Takes Flight
From there, Mason continued to rack up the victories. His second bout was under the Adrenalin Fights promotion against Brett Hassett. Brett came out swinging, landing some blistering knees and punches and managing to cut Mason early. During a clinch against the fence, Hassett attempted a flying guillotine, which Mason had no trouble escaping. Quickly reversing position and snagging a Kimura, Brett was forced to tap less than halfway through the first. Despite some initial adversity, Mason now had two wins and two finishes under his belt.
Returning to Cage Warriors, Mason fought Lawrence Tracy, finishing him with some devastating strikes early in the second. He next fought Craig Edwards and caught him in another rear-naked choke halfway through the third. The Dragon was proving himself to be an exciting fight every time, and showing his lethal finishing potential. His popularity with the fans was growing, and he showed no signs of slowing down.
His streak continued. He beat Konmon Deh with a unanimous decision, finished Kacper Formela with an excruciating knee to the body near the end of the first, and earned another two unanimous decisions against Donovan Desmae and Aleksi Mantykivi. Mason now had an eclectic record of wins, with 3 TKO’s, 3 submissions, and 3 decisions. By late 2019, he had yet to lose a bout. Who could deny him a title shot with such a dominant record?
A Dragon and his Gold
The Dragon came into 2020 with 8 victories and 5 finishes. He was hungry for his first taste of gold, and it wasn’t long before opportunity came knocking. Mason’s next opponent – Danilo Belluardo, withdrew soon before their bout citing an injury in training. It was a blessing in disguise, as Mason was instead given the opportunity to fight Joe McColgan for the vacant lightweight belt, after Jay Maybry had recently vacated it to sign with the UFC.
Mason wasted no time getting after it. After motioning to Joe that there would be no fist bumps once the bout began, The Dragon came out with a fury, chopping at McColgan’s legs with savage leg kicks and throwing each and every strike with violent intent. McColgan fired back with equal ferocity, countering well and giving Mason plenty to think about. After a brief battle in the clinch with some unsuccessful throw attempts from Jones, the two separated and continued their neck-and-neck striking match. Soon after, a nice combination from The Dragon followed by a perfectly timed knee sent McColgan to the ground. Seizing his opportunity, Mason finished the fight in the first round. Cage Warriors had their new lightweight champion, and The Dragon got his first taste of gold.
Champ Champ Camp
Following 113, Cage Warriors were forced to take a lengthy absence from shows as the world recovered from a pandemic, but all that’s set to change very soon. Next month, the promotion returns with a stacked trilogy of fight cards, and Mason Jones is front and centre.
Initial rumours claimed he would defend his lightweight belt, but it’s recently been announced that The Dragon will move up a weight class to fight Adam Proctor for the vacant welterweight strap. It seems Mason is vying for a taste of the Conor Mcgregor Champ Champ status, a mission he’s hilariously dubbed the “Champ Champ Camp”.
With a step-up in weight class for Jones, and a serious challenger in Adam Proctor, this will surely be the biggest test of Mason’s career thus far. If he loses the bout, he still has his lightweight belt, but if he snags the win? A contract with the UFC could be right around the corner, and at this point, I don’t think many could argue it’s undeserved.
Follow me on Twitter at @TomLlewellynMMA and follow us @OT_Heroics for more great content!
Also, be sure to check out the Overtime Heroics Forums page to join in on the discussion!