January 24th, 2009 was a cold day. I woke up early that morning anxiously waiting for UFC 94 to start. I was looking forward to welterweight kingpin George St. Pierre shutting up B.J. Penn, once and for all. There was something else that happened that night that I would never forget, I saw Jon Jones fight for the first time.
I was still new to the sport of Mixed Martial Arts and had only been watching regularly since UFC 86, which had taken in place in the summer of 2008. I can’t say exactly what hooked me, but there was something special to me about two dudes fighting in a cage.
Stephan Bonnar, a more than capable fighter, not a contender, but not an easy fight at the same time. I had seen the epic fight between Bonnar and Forrest Griffin that catapulted the sport in the mainstream in 2005. I always felt great gratitude and respect for Bonnar and Griffin. I think that if they didn’t go out and tore the house down the way they did, MMA probably doesn’t make it the heights that it would eventually reach.
Bonnar fought a young challenger by the name of Jon Jones that night. Jones fight with Bonnar was his second fight in the UFC. Jones had won had debuted at UFC 87. I wasn’t familiar with Jones and had no idea what to expect. I knew Bonnar was a good fighter and expected him to win easily, I was wrong.
I remember sitting at my computer watching in the dark while eating a double bacon cheeseburger, Jon hit one of the most spectacular moves I had ever seen in MMA up to that point, a spinning back elbow, as soon as the elbow landed, Bonnar dropped to the floor. My jaw dropped and I had never seen anything like it before. I thought to myself, who is this Jon Jones dude? Jon dominated Bonnar and ending up winning a unanimous decision victory.
After that, I had become enthralled with Jones. He oozed so much talent and skill. Jones had all the tools to become a champion someday. I went on YouTube and found what clips of Jon I could, most of it was unwatchable videos from regional MMA promotions. The videos I had watched were all the same, Jones wrecking the competition. After the Bonnar fight, I made it a point to never miss a Jon Jones fight.
After a few short years, Jones made it to the top of the MMA world when he became UFC Light heavyweight champion after a brutal beatdown of “Shogun Rua”. After the win, Jones would begin a reign of terror that the likes of the light heavyweight division had never seen. Jon Jones would go on to one of the greatest MMA fighters ever