Going into last night's title defense, the question for UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones wasn't whether he'd win, but how. His opponent was Glover Teixeira, a tough but limited fighter whose main attributes are heavy hands and a hard chin, and whose principal skill is working inside with a set of basic but effective combinations. The safe strategy for Jones would have been to use his reach advantage to run up points from the outside, wear him down, and ride the fight out, perhaps going for a finish if he wore Teixeira down enough.
What we got instead was a demonstration of why, for all his faults and all the broader faults of his sports he expresses, Jones is one of the most captivating athletes on the scene today. He systematically dismantled the challenger not only with an extraordinary range of techniques—everything from a standing arm crank to spinning elbows to oblique kicks to straight jabs to standing elbows used, essentially, as jabs—but with a series of tactical adjustments almost no other fighter would have even realized he could make.
Jones spent much of the last four rounds in close, exactly in the range where Teixeira wanted the fight, as if just to make a point about how he could do it. At one point, between the fourth and fifth rounds, as Teixiera's corner was urging their man on toward a knockout that simply wasn't going to happen, Jones's trainer Greg Jackson just calmly assured him that everything was going exactly the right way.
"You're putting on an amazing, artistic fight," he said. "It's beautiful to behold."
The story below is what Josh Tucker wrote ahead of the fight yesterday, about how Jones makes everything awful about a more than occasionally awful sport worth bothering with, and just how he does it.
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