NEWARK, N.J. – Next up for Jon Jones, the Ultimate Fighting Championship's new light heavyweight champion, may be solving unemployment, saving the environment and ending terrorism. After his day on Saturday, there's not much that seems out of his reach.
Hours after chasing down a thief on the streets of Paterson, N.J., the 23-year-old Jones obliterated one of the great fighters in mixed martial arts history, stopping Mauricio "Shogun" Rua in the third round of UFC 128's main event at the Prudential Center.
Jones, who became the youngest titleholder in UFC history, stunned the 12,619 fans, UFC executives, media and a worldwide television audience with one of the most dominant performances in the sport's history.
"He may deliver a baby on the way out of here," UFC president Dana White said, only half-jokingly, after Jones dominated Rua with every type of strike imaginable. "What else could a guy do in a day?"
Jones went to Paterson to meditate near a waterfall with his coaches, Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn, late Saturday afternoon when they came across an out-of-breath and upset elderly couple. The woman explained that a man had broken a window of their car, stolen the items in it and taken off running.
Winkeljohn and Jackson took off after the thief immediately. It took a second for Jones, who would face the biggest night of his life in a few hours, to figure out what was going on. When he processed the situation, he said, "OK, time to take action now," and joined the chase.
The 6-foot-4 Jones quickly caught and passed his coaches and was soon on the heels of the thief.
"I'm closing in on this guy and I'm like 20 yards away and the guy, you could see he was starting to get winded," Jones said. "He's got their stuff and he's running. He looks back and he sees me, 6-4, and Greg and Wink are behind me and I'm just running. The guy tripped over his own foot and I got so scared because I didn't know what I was going to do when I actually caught him. I actually started barking at him."
Jones sneered, emulated what had happened and said, "Ruff. Ruff. Ruff."
Yep, the new UFC champion was barking at his postfight news conference.
Jackson put an armbar on the man, and he and Winkeljohn held him down, awaiting the police. The police arrested the man, but not before Jones lectured the guy about crime.
Rua, one of the world's most accomplished fighters and No. 4 in the Yahoo! Sports rankings going into the night, had no more success against Jones than the thief. Jones opened the bout with a flying knee and a couple of kicks and the rout was on.
Jones hit Rua with every limb of his body and every shot imaginable. Knees, kicks, elbows, punches, knees – you name it – Jones landed it. And not only did he land them, he landed them very hard and very accurately.
"With what I saw tonight, he looks like he's a mile ahead of everybody else," White said. "He looks incredible. In my opinion, not only is he the No. 1 light heavyweight in the world, he just shot up in the pound-for-pound category, too."
Jones did it all in the flashiest manner possible, bringing together everything he learned from hours of watching YouTube videos to teaching himself mixed martial arts and turning it into one of the most fearsome fighting machines on the planet.
Spinning elbows and flying knees are generally risky maneuvers, particularly against a powerful striker like Rua, but it's been a part of Jones' repertoire since he began. He said he felt no risk.
"I don't look at my moves and my style as being flashy, I really don't," Jones said. "It's the only way I know. I started off with pretty much zero trainers. I taught myself from YouTube. Where most people start by learning, 'One, two, hook,' I started my first classes by watching YouTube and I'd come home and try the spinning things. It's the only way I know.
"I really don't see it as dangerous or flashy at all. I call it more like unpredictable. I don't worry about the danger I put myself in when I go for these unpredictable techniques, because once you're initiating the technique, most people are like, 'Oh crap, what is this?' and they're more worried about defending their head."
Rua was in plenty of danger from those unpredictable techniques and his body showed it when the fight ended when referee Herb Dean mercifully pulled Jones off at 2:37 of the third. Both of Rua's eyes were swollen almost shut, he was bleeding from the nose and mouth and his body was covered with red welts.
Rua never landed a kick or a punch of consequence and was beaten down as if he were a rank amateur. One of the first questions White was asked at the postfight news conference was whether he'd match Jones with middleweight champion Anderson Silva, since after seeing that demolition on Saturday it doesn't seem there's anyone close to being able to handle Jones.
Even Silva, the top-ranked fighter in the world, would have a tough time with Jones. And that fight isn't expected to happen any time soon since Silva has made it plain to White he has no plans to leave the sanctuary of the middleweight division.
Jones' teammate, Rashad Evans, will get the next crack and, likely, the next beating. The scary thing about it all is that Jones is far from his peak and is going to get better.
"I need to relax for a little while and work on being a better man, a better champion and a better martial artist and come back even better," Jones said.
If he comes back better, there could be problems. Congress may try to pass a law banning him. He's that scary and he's that good.
"I told him before the fight he could be a mixture of Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali for our sport," said UFC bantamweight Urijah Faber, who defeated Eddie Wineland in the co-main event.
That's not hyperbole. Jordan and Ali are the greatest of the greats and Jones is still a fresh-faced 23-year-old.
And as good as Jordan and Ali were, they never ran down a thief on the night of their biggest event. Jones is, truly, one of a kind.
- Jon Jones