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A Few Days in Ithaca with Jon Jones

Those of you who are Fight Magazine subscribers probably already have your copy of the December issue.  The rest of you freeloaders will just have to go down to Borders and read it in the bathroom like the rest of the homeless people.  Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Now that you’re back, you’ve probably noticed that in addition to a hilarious feature about athletes taunting each other in the cage, this issue also features a cover story on Jon Jones by yours truly.  In order to write this bad boy, I flew to Montreal to meet Jones during his stay at the Tri-Star gym a couple of months out from his fight against Matt Hamill at this weekend’s TUF finale.  The only problem was that once I got to Montreal, I found out that Jones was still at home in Ithaca, NY. 

It turns out that when you get too many speeding tickets they suspend your license.  And if you try to drive across the U.S.-Canada border with a suspended license, nothing good happens.  So Jones stayed home and I didn’t find out until it was too late. This is how I ended up renting a car in Montreal and driving it to upstate New York to meet Jones.  Just in case you’re curious, if you’re an American citizen with a Montana license, driving a rented car with Quebec plates into the U.S., there’s really no way to assure the border agents that you aren’t smugging drugs.  They’re going to make you wait for the better part of an hour while they search your rented Toyota Yaris.  There’s just no way around it.

When I finally tracked Jones down at the BombSquad gym in Cortland, New York, I made another startling discovery: it’s basically a barn.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a really nice barn.  It’s a barn with insulation and good mats and a decent stereo inside, but it’s still a barn in the middle of the country in back of someone’s house.  This, to my surprise, is where one of MMA’s brightest young prospects was developed.

Now Jones has access to some of the best trainers in the sport.  He works out with Firas Zahabi (when he can get across the border) and is a recent addition to Greg Jackson’s team in New Mexico, where he’s been training for the Hamill fight.  But as you’ll discover when you read the story, this is a guy who seems to have limitless potential.  He got a UFC contract after four months in the sport.  He has world-renowned trainers telling him that he can not only be a champion, but clean out the entire 205-pound division.  All this, and he’s only twenty-two years old. 

For an intimate portrait of a fighter as a young man, go pick yourself up a copy.  Even if you somehow don’t give a damn about "Bones," the issue is worth it just to read Clay Guida‘s reaction to what Nate Diaz shouted in his ear during their fight at UFC 94.

Cagepotato Comments

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Get Off Me- December 1, 2009 at 3:03 pm
Jones v. Silva???? The one with 8 legs? Gusmao and Bonnar went the distance and O'Brien got submitted(very nicely too) against Mr.Jones.......... How about this, Jones wins some more fights first! The 205 division is stacked full of fighters who Jones needs to go through first and Matt H is a perfect test like the next guy and the guy after that. Just for fun, I would say Bones wouldn't beat Thiago at this point in his career, that would be a good fight for Jones in 2011 though.
Soulrise- November 30, 2009 at 1:38 pm
I'm a FIGHT magazine subscriber and I haven't gotten the newest issue yet either. In fact, I JUST got the issue with Tito on the cover last week. Ever since I've subscribed to the magazine I've gotten my issues about three weeks after they've come out on news stands. I know this isn't your fault/issue Ben but their customer service sucks.
Dr Garbo- November 30, 2009 at 1:32 pm
Wait??? You mean to tell me there's a BATHROOM in Borders? This whole time i've been crapping in the Non-Fiction/ World History section...Nothin gets the oloe bowels movin like a quick biography about the life of Benito Mussolini
ArmFarmer- November 30, 2009 at 12:23 pm
Yeah I'm interested to hear the diaz/guida thing too. Anyone care to fill us in?
NinJay- November 30, 2009 at 12:22 pm
I am a Fight mag subscriber....and no I DON'T have this yet. I'm pissed that I don't and happy that Bones is on the cover.
skeletor- November 30, 2009 at 12:19 pm
I'm sure it was really witty
831 Son- November 30, 2009 at 12:11 pm
Anderson Silva would DESTROY Jon Jones right now. Give Jones at least 2 or 3 more fights then I would throw him in there with the Spider. I honestly think Anderson wont lose in the UFC though.

I think I might buy this issue just to hear what Nate Diaz said to Guida.
Mike Milbury- November 30, 2009 at 12:03 pm
I just hope Greg Jackson doesn't turn him into an unexciting fighter. It's doubtful that will happen, but there's always that very minute chance.
ReDx- November 30, 2009 at 11:54 am
Was the Barncat there also? He's from Ithaca as well and I'm pretty sure that there aren't two gyms in Ithaca. I lived there for 3 years and its a pretty small town.
Koeikan- November 30, 2009 at 11:51 am
Well, that was a long-winded plug.
steampunk22- November 30, 2009 at 11:46 am
So this mystical barn in the backwoods on New York is where they teach spinning-elbows-to-the-back-of-the-head-which-is-totally-illegal-but-Jones-throws-them-so-fast-that-they-dont-stop-the-fight-or-even-warn-him-even-claiming-later-that-it-is-accidental-even-though-he-throws-them-in-every-freakin-fight? Sweet!

I like this kid I think he's got a lot of potential to go real deep in the division, but the back of the head strikes, however flashly and street-fighter-esque in their awesomeness are pretty fucking dodgy and I hope he cleans up his striking in that regard because he's gonna KO someone that way and its gonna be all sorts of controversial.

That being said, I hope he works Hamill over, I like Bones Jones.
Defender- November 30, 2009 at 11:42 am
"and he probably hasn't heard allot of the hype people are talking about Bones."

I see what you did there.
skeletor- November 30, 2009 at 11:39 am
Sorry, you're probably not an idiot, but I think just about anybody would give Silva a better fight then forrest did with the exception of James Irvin. i just think the UFC has a real prospect with Jones here and they shouldn't test him against people of Silva's ability just yet. This match with Hamil should tell us allot about where he is in terms of fighting on the big stage. Hamill is not exactly a world beater but he's tough and he probably hasn't heard allot of the hype people are talking about Bones.
Than- November 30, 2009 at 11:36 am
209 Bitches!
KidDinomite- November 30, 2009 at 11:34 am
Damn Skeletor, you'd think I was your arch nemesis He-Man with that comment. What I didn't convey is that the UFC probably wouldn't make this match anytime soon but come on, you honestly think that Bones couldn't beat the number one contender for either the middleweight or light-heavyweight title now? Just by watching the way he fights, he would certaintly give Shogun and/or Machida a run for their money, plus the fact that Greg Jackson would throw in every trick he knows into Jones should he ever fight Machida after how he completely embarrassed Rashad. I think Jones and Silva have similar builds and reaches plus with Jones' unorthodox moves he might be able to catch Silva, but then again, Silva has more experience plus he's able to "feel" out his opponents real good. But I can at least guarantee Jones would give Silva more trouble than Forrest and I think it would be a great matchup
El Famous Burrito- November 30, 2009 at 11:27 am
Well, to be fair to the border agents, if you're driving a Yaris, you're probably on drugs.
Merlin- November 30, 2009 at 11:27 am
Sadly I gotta agree with you "Skeletor" I think they need to give him a few more 205 contenders before he takes on "the Spider" or other top 10 prospects.
skeletor- November 30, 2009 at 11:20 am
You are an idiot. Give this kid some time, he beat the shit out of Stephan Bonnar that was awesome and impressive. But he needs more time to develop. The UFC loves to throw there young talent to the wolves but that's why there running out of headliners. i think Bones could be an awesome force for years to come, just as long as they don't over inflate his talent to soon.
Merlin- November 30, 2009 at 11:16 am
Jon "Bones" Jones, in my opinion, is the most exciting up-and-comer in the 205 division.
Just don't gas in the later rounds against Matt Hamill & you'll have your title shot soon enough bro.

Keep the Faith!
KidDinomite- November 30, 2009 at 11:13 am
I can honestly say that Jon Jones is the one who can most likely beat Anderson Silva. After watching Jones's last few fights, I am confident that he can beat or at least go 5 rounds with Silva. UFC needs to make this match happen....
Defender- November 30, 2009 at 11:04 am
Anyone new to MMA who looks at this is going to think Forrest Griffin is black based on this cover. >.>