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Jon Jones talks about his youth, Shogun and oddsmakers

Maggie Hendricks
Cagewriter

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At just 23 years, Jon Jones has the chance to become the UFC's youngest title-holder, and in Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, he faces a fighter who has experienced both the ultimate highs and lows of MMA. Jones spoke with Cagewriter about the role his youth plays in Saturday night's UFC 128 bout.

"I'm 23, and I have a strong will and a strong heart. A lot of these older guys have been in many battles. I've never taken any damage. I'm so fresh in this game right now. I haven't taken any cuts or any broken bones, I haven't taken any discouragement. I'm not the champion. I want it. He has it. I think that's a big difference."

Rua is hardly over the hill at 29 years, but he has already had a full career. He started training in jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai as a child. At 23, he won the Pride Grand Prix, then battled knee injuries and had a rough start in the UFC before winning the light heavyweight title.

Jones has had a similar ascent. He starred in wrestling and play football, and started fighting in MMA just three years ago. Now, he is the young hotshot fighting for the belt.

"Shogun knows how I feel. Shogun was that 23-year-old. The old men couldn't handle him at the time. I watched his career. When he was younger, he reacted best, he was faster, he trained harder, he was more passionate. But now, he has it all. I'm sure that he has trouble being motivated, especially coming off a knee injury. My youth is a major advantage, even when it comes to him studying my fights. Me being young in my career, it's not like he can find those tendencies or bad things I do. Even my fights are new."

Though he is young, it's hard to tell when speaking to him. Jones carries himself like a man twice his age. He is taking his success in stride. {YSP:MORE}

"I think a lot of 23-year-olds would be so confused that their heads would be spinning to be so young and have a family, a career, pressure, people looking up to you, people saying horrible, mean things to you on the computer. It's all so much. My being is so relaxed and so laid-back, that I don't let it get to me. I do endorsement deals, I'm so grateful, but the money doesn't impress me. Fame doesn't impress me. When people say hurtful things to me, obviously it sucks, but it doesn't change my day. That helps me not overthink anything or underthink anything. It helps me just live in the moment and go with life."

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He plans to take that relaxed attitude into the Octagon on Saturday.

"It's the same way I approach my fights. I'm going to fight a very dangerous person who could potentially hurt me really badly. It doesn't even bother me. I'm just at peace with it. I just train and do my thing."

Jones played down his role as the favorite among oddsmakers.

"The oddsmakers are smart in this situation. They're really good with money. To make me the favorite is a smart strategy. They actually think I'm going to lose. When it comes to the hardcore MMA fans, they know that I have no right to be considered the favorite," Jones said.

"Shogun is the Pride champion, champion of the UFC, champion of champions, and I'm ready to prove that I'm the champion of champions. He's so much more proven. It doesn't bother me. I'm just real with what's going on."

Check back with Cagewriter tomorrow for more from Jones. He talks about who the best athlete in his family is, his daughters and the origin of his scars.

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