- (Photo: UFC)
The Ultimate Fighting Championship's Jon "Bones" Jones is still the fighting league's light heavyweight champion after Saturday night's "UFC 140," but that doesn't mean he's forgotten Jesus is the King of Kings.
The 24-year-old mixed martial artist slayed Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida in single combat at Toronto's Air Canada Centre after two rounds of fierce fighting. The crafty karate veteran threw everything he could at the champion, only for Jones to catch him with a chokehold for the submission win. It's a victory that sees Jones join the UFC's upper echelon, and one the young prodigy said he couldn't have done without Jesus.
"God if it's your will then it's already done and I thank you for giving me the victory," Jones tweeted before the bout. The fighter followed the posting with 2 Timothy 1:7, a Bible verse, which reads "For the spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline."
Gaining strength from the Gospel is nothing new for Jones, a fighter who's drawn inspiration from his faith since his first UFC fight in 2008. What's changed is the striker's level of success. Jones' 2011 is one of the best years in UFC history, and he's toppled four opponents during the last 12 months.
"Jon is just going out there and fighting the best of the best in the light heavyweight division," said Dana White, the UFC's president, at a post-fight press conference on Saturday. "If he keeps winning and doing what he's doing, I think he has the potential to be our biggest star."
Jones' momentum was almost stopped when he met Machida in the Octagon. The Brazilian brawler confused Jones with his left-handed punching, at one point stunning him with a huge hook. Jones survived the unorthodox onslaught, then turned the tables with a takedown that sent Machida sprawling in round two. He next damaged "The Dragon" with an elbow strike and lured him into a wrestling match against the cage.
"It was a great fight between two of the world's best fighters," said Roger Pattison, a training partner at Capital MMA in Alexandria, Va. "Machida showed there is a way to combat the raw talent that is Jon Jones – until Jones ended it in exciting fashion. Was it close? No, not really, but it's a lot closer than anyone else has come thus far."
Jones' win jolted him to a 15-1 record and the first back-to-back defense of the light heavyweight title since Chuck Liddell possessed the belt in 2005. Thanking Jesus and his training team after the match, he also made sure the 18,303 fans in attendance saw his Philippians 4:13 chest tattoo.
"I can do all this through him who gives me strength," the Bible verse reads.
Jones said matching up with Machida was a dream come true given "The Dragon" was the light heavyweight champion when Jones first entered the division. Four years later, he said he'd continue giving glory to God for his victories in 2012. The young fighter hopes to have a five month break and then resume fighting early next year.
"It's a blessing," Jones said during the post-fight press conference. "I feel as if I was meant to do this with all my heart and soul. Once you have that strong of a conviction, who knows what you can do?"