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Jon Jones Is For Real, and Just Getting Started

I talked to Jon Jones for this week’s column, in which he discusses what it was like growing up with two brothers who both now play defensive line at Syracuse (with the eldest headed soon to the NFL) and how he learned to strike by watching YouTube videos:

The gym I train at is a really small gym, a lot of wrestlers, so I didn’t have a striking coach until this last fight.  I had to teach myself how to strike.  I would study a lot of videos on YouTube, or go to different websites where I could watch old Pride fights.  I just became obsessed with MMA and watched videos over and over again.  I learned the moves and took them to practice and started using them.  Before I knew it I was considered a pretty good striker. 
YouTube videos can really teach you a lot.  It depends how you search for them.  If you look really hard, you can find videos of seminars from some of the best fighters in the world.  It’s just a matter of taking them seriously.  You have the Bas Rutten’s and the Anderson Silva DVD’s, but you can find most of that stuff on the internet for free, so that’s what I was doing.  I was basically teaching myself with them.  Now I can honestly say I’ve been taught by some of the best teachers in the world because I’ve watched some of the greatest seminars online. 

Obviously, Jones is a freakish athlete who can simply do things other people can’t, such as watch YouTube videos and then beat up UFC veterans.  But what struck me was his humility and obsession with improving as a fighter.  Check this quote, for example, on what went through his mind after the UFC offered him the fight with Bonnar:

Originally when I got the offer to fight Stephan Bonnar I told my manager I’d think about it.  I went online and watched a couple of his fights.  I really focused on the fights that he lost, saw him at his weakest moments, and it inspired me to think that I could be better than him.  I gave my manager a call back about three hours later and told him I’d take the fight.  
I didn’t know what the UFC’s angle was.  I didn’t know if they were trying to give Bonnar an easy fight back against a kid who had only been fighting for one year and has a bunch of holes in his game.  Or, I thought maybe they were impressed with me after the Gusmao fight and maybe they wanted to see what I could really do.  I just knew that if they were going to give me this opportunity I was going to take it and do my best with it.  I dedicated my life to Stephan Bonnar.  I knew how he moved.  I knew his tendencies.  I just became obsessed with him, and it paid off.  The energy I put into preparing for him really showed, and it honestly surprised me how one-sided that fight was.

Jones also said he sees himself moving up to heavyweight eventually, though at just 21 years old he’s got time.  If he gets with good trainers and stays as focused and determined as he is now, he’ll eventually be a champion in at least one weight class.

Cagepotato Comments

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Eric in Ayden- February 7, 2009 at 10:43 am
Holy shit! Keyboard warriors CAN kick ass!
KTFO- February 7, 2009 at 12:18 am
He's kind of like Kimbo Slice, if Kimbo knew how to fight.
Stephan Bonnar- February 6, 2009 at 10:28 pm
Who is Jon Jones? Fuck, my head still hurts!
ME- February 6, 2009 at 7:33 pm
This guy is for real and will only get better.
Charles- February 6, 2009 at 6:25 pm
I love him... hes the kind of guy that really goes to the death...
Keyser Soze- February 6, 2009 at 5:49 pm
I was shocked the ref didn't call for a break in the action with the elbow to the back of the head. Was pretty, just not legal. The other thing that surprised me was the kneeing of a downed opponent (Bonnar) that wasn't called either. The ring rust was evident with Bonnar, and I'd love to see a rematch down the road.
Anonymous- February 6, 2009 at 4:10 pm
or maybe if BJ watched how GSP was training really hard, then he would have realized how out-trained and outclassed he was. advantage goes to GSP for working harder.
Greenlion210- February 6, 2009 at 3:46 pm
Someone get this boy a copy of "MMA for Dummies". Frank will have a belt on him in no time!
brandon- February 6, 2009 at 2:08 pm
Damn. You guys think I can watch youtube videos and become a UFC fighter?

I think this is a tribute to the infancy of the sport and how much it has to grow. If someone can just walk in after watching some youtube videos and own a vet, it doesn't speak well for our fighters in there.

Same for a professional wrestler coming in and owning.

Matt Serra- February 6, 2009 at 1:41 pm
Matt Serra- February 6, 2009 at 1:40 pm
@ shady serra - I do not approve of your iron message and don't give you permission to use my name. The Terror has spoken. For real.
skidding- February 6, 2009 at 1:34 pm

They looked like Judo moves to me, because a lot of the takedowns he employed would be penalized in Greco, for example, using the feet to trip (3 takedowns, where he used his feet, u gotta catch it in slow motion)
devilmonkey- February 6, 2009 at 1:30 pm
Forty Fourth!!!
Anonymous- February 6, 2009 at 1:29 pm
It shows that he watched a lot of old Pride videos, I havn't seen too many good ol'fashioned German Suplex's since Pride was bought out.
Anonymous- February 6, 2009 at 1:28 pm
If you get caught with a spinning elbow standing up facing your opponent, no matter the point of contact, you deserve what you get. But yes, Bonnar could rightfully complain, but no one made a big deal about it because it didn't end the fight and Jones looked so much better than him anyway.
Matt Serra- February 6, 2009 at 1:14 pm
Nah man, I meant no class for using a word like "n". Grow up, it's the world - deal with it.
Dave W- February 6, 2009 at 1:13 pm
Who cares anyway. What the hell is iron helps us play.
Jay Smith- February 6, 2009 at 1:12 pm
@ Darrin
Ditto dog. I'm surprised more people posting here hasn't done something similiar. I trained in a couple different dojo's later on in my life, but before that I studied all different kinds of ways. I'm 38 so, I read a lot of books. Videos didn't come around til later.
Anyway, this dudes got me excited to see his next fight!
Matt Serra- February 6, 2009 at 1:11 pm
No class man, that aint Matt Serra, you know.
Dave W- February 6, 2009 at 1:11 pm
I guess so. It was the 3rd of 4th post. I think that's what the Irish_Fella was seconding.
Matt Serra- February 6, 2009 at 1:08 pm
Look man, that wasn't me. Is some kid on here using my name or what?
Jay Smith- February 6, 2009 at 1:06 pm
"I think he was referring to your little blurt of racism."

Funny as hell, but it wasn't Matt Serra with the blurt of racism, it was "agentsmith"'s bitch ass.
Dave W- February 6, 2009 at 1:05 pm
Your post earlier with nothing but the "N" word. One of the Bens removed it.
Matt Serra- February 6, 2009 at 1:04 pm
WTF - when was this....that wasn't me bro.
Dave W- February 6, 2009 at 1:02 pm
@ Matt Serra

I think he was referring to your little blurt of racism.