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The Bones Era: UFC Light Heavyweight Title Lineage – Part 2

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The UFC light heavyweight division has seen legendary fights, and even more legendary storylines. Join us, as we continue our series following the UFC’s light heavyweight title’s progression, up to the current day.

Make sure to check out Part 1 for the definitive history of the Light Heavyweight Title if you haven’t already!

From the Ashes of the Machida Era

With the Machida Era in ruins, and with the top three in the division all having held the title within the last 18 months, there was one clear contender for Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, the twenty-three-year-old Jon “Bones” Jones.

Jones had flown up through the rankings and laid claim to an 11-1 record, the lone loss coming from a DQ against Matt Hamill, which Dana White has tried to get overturned since, blaming infamous Steve “If he dies, he dies” Mazzagatti for the late stoppage leading to an apparent 12-6 elbow.

Which itself is only arbitrarily illegal after NYSAC and NSAC saw the move being used to break wooden boards, despite the fact that it is no more dangerous than any other elbow or an oblique kick.

Jones would close as a -215 favorite against Shogun at UFC 128 in 2011, and in many ways would make it look easy against the reigning champion, winning every second of every exchange, before putting Rua away halfway through the third round. This would make Jones the youngest UFC Champion ever, a record that he holds to this day.

After winning the belt, Jones would go on what is arguably the best title run ever, stringing together eight defenses, four by finish, four by decision, and every minute of it proving that “there are levels to this sh*t”, and Jones was on another one.

Jones would begin his defenses by submitting Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, and choking Lyoto Machida unconscious via standing guillotine, only to release Machida and let gravity do the rest. He would dominate his teammate, Rashad Evans via UD, before facing Vitor Belfort (whose muscles were practically ripping through his flesh). After he was (wrongly) granted a Therapeutic Use Exemption for Testosterone Replacement Therapy, also known as TRT.

Despite having Jon Jones in danger in the first round, before losing every other second of the fight until being submitted via Americana early in the fourth round.

Undefeated, Undisputed, Never Lost a Round.

Following this, Jon Jones would coach Season 17 of TUF alongside Chael “The American Gangster” Sonnen, who was fresh off a suspension, and two unsuccessful title challenges against Anderson Silva at Middleweight. Jones viewed Sonnen as an unworthy opponent, and treated him as such, blanking him in interviews, and finishing Sonnen in the first round, dominating every second of the fight. However, Jones would mangle his toe in a failed takedown attempt, which could have resulted in an NC or TKO had the fight made it out of the round.

Jones’s next defense was against Alexander Gustafsson, in a bout that would go down as possibly the greatest LHW Title Fight ever. Gustafsson dominated the beginning of the fight, opening a huge gash over Jones’ right eye. However, despite Joe Rogan commenting that Jones might need a finish going into the fifth, and a close third round, Jones would edge the victory over the Swede in a controversial decision. Jones later revealed on the JRE that he had gone into that fight (and several others) after a ten-day bender, having barely trained.

The following two fights would also go the distance, as Jones dispatched Glover Teixeira with a dominant 3x 50-45 UD. Following this, Jones would remain out of action for almost a year, due to injuries and disputes with the UFC about rematching Gustafsson, as Jones had a preference for Daniel Cormier, as he had already beaten Gustafsson. Jones vs. Cormier was eventually scheduled for UFC 182, which Jones would win via 49-46 UD, becoming the first man to take DC down in MMA, scoring three takedowns in the process.

From “Stick and Move”, to Hit and Run

Jones was expected to defend his belt again against Anthony “Rumble” Johnson at UFC 187 but was stripped of the belt a month prior due to his involvement with a felony hit and run of a pregnant woman before fleeing the scene on foot. Daniel Cormier would instead choke out Rumble in Jones’ place to be crowned Champion, and the rematch was scheduled for UFC 197.

It was not to be, however, and Cormier was forced out due to a foot injury and was replaced by Ovince Saint-Preux. The former Tennessee linebacker and defensive end had taken up MMA after failing to get drafted into the NFL and had only lost to Gegard Mousasi, Ryan Bader, and Glover Teixeira on his way to the title challenge. However, Jones would again make it look easy, smothering OSP to be awarded the UD, and the Interim Title. However, ‘Bones’ would again be stripped of the title after testing positive for banned substances that he attributed to tainted male enhancement medication.

While Jones was suspended, DC would defend his title at UFC 210 against Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson, who had ripped through the competition in the three fights since his last defeat to Cormier. The fight would end in a strikingly similar fashion, with DC locking up the R3 RNC yet again.

Finally, the stage was set for the rematch between Jones and DC at UFC 214, and boy did Jones deliver. If the first fight was domination, this was simply sanctioned murder, with Jones finishing Cormier via head kick and ground and pound. The bout would be overturned to a NC, however, after Jones tested positive for picograms of turinabol metabolite, and DC was reinstated as Champion. He would defend against Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 220 before moving up to heavyweight to defeat Stipe Miocic and join that elite group of same-time double champions.

The End of an Era, and the Rise of a New Breed.

Jones would return to the Octagon to claim the now vacant title at UFC 232, as he defeated Alexander Gustafsson early in the third round via KO. He would continue his reign as he defeated Anthony Smith, the wrecking ball that is Thiago Santos, who suffered major ACL and MCL injuries during the fight, and Dominick Reyes in razor-close decisions, before vacating the title in his search for Heavyweight glory.

Former KSW Champion and seemingly with a new lease of life, having gone 2-4 in his first six UFC bouts, and having won seven of his last eight, Jan Blachowicz was scheduled against Dominick Reyes for the vacant belt at UFC 253. Polish Power would come out supreme, as he did what Jones could not, and finished Reyes in the second round.

Blachowicz would defend once against Israel Adesanya, who weighed in five pounds below the 205lb Championship limit at UFC 259, before losing the belt via RNC to the 42-year-old Glover Teixeria last October.

Finally, from the favelas of Brazil to the King of the Octagon, Glover Teixeira broke through and claimed the title for himself

Teixeira faced the surging Czech Samurai, Jiří Procházka, and was defeated by him at UFC 275. Give your thoughts on that fight. Do you think Teixeira deserves a rematch after a legendary five-round banger?

Featured Image Credits to Embed from Getty Images and Embed from Getty Images

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