5 most vicious Jon Jones finishes in the UFC light heavyweight division
Jon Jones' run in the UFC light heavyweight division spanned 12 years. Over the course of his scintillating rise to the title and subsequent championship reigns, 'Bones' finished a litany of 205-pounders in devastating fashion, cementing his status as one of the greatest fighters in MMA history.
While the latter stages of his second reign as champion saw 'Bones' go the distance quite a few times, the former light heavyweight kingpin's finishing ability was undeniable during the first half of his UFC journey.
On that note, here are the five most vicious Jon Jones finishes in the UFC light heavyweight division.
#5. Jon Jones vs. Mauricio Rua – UFC 128
After signing with the UFC in 2008, Jon Jones accrued a 6-1 octagon record to earn a title shot, with the lone loss being a controversial disqualification against Matt Hamill back in 2009, a fight he was dominating before the referee stepped in.
At UFC 128, a 23-year-old fresh-faced Jones took on PRIDE legend and then-UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio Rua.
Mauricio Rua had beaten some of the biggest names in the sport at the time and was considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. With Jon Jones being so young and inexperienced, this was seen by some as a mismatch.
However, Jones silenced his doubters in style. Right from the get-go, he appeared to be one step ahead of the reigning champion and constantly peppered him with long-range attacks and thunderous elbows every time he stepped into range.
Going into the third round, Rua looked exhausted and out of ideas, with Jones growing in confidence. Halfway through the round, 'Bones' landed a hard dig to the body of 'Shogun', quickly followed by a knee to the head, prompting the referee to call a halt to the contest.
This remains one of the most iconic title-winning performances in UFC history.
#4. Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson 2 – UFC 232
After defending his light heavyweight title against Vitor Belfort and Chael Sonnen, both via finishes, Jon Jones was being touted as the best fighter in the world.
Jones had already defended his belt five times, so going into his sixth championship defense against Sweden's Alexander Gustafsson, there wasn't much excitement surrounding the bout. The fight that ensued turned out to be arguably the hardest test of the American's title reign.
Alexander Gustafsson pushed Jon Jones to the absolute limit at UFC 165, making the champion look human for the first time in the UFC. 'The Mauler' outstruck Jones in the first few rounds and even landed a takedown, becoming the first fighter to do so against 'Bones'.
Ultimately, Jones eked out a narrow decision win to retain his title. Considering how competitive the fight was, a rematch was inevitable. They squared off five years later at UFC 232 for the vacant title, and this time, Jones left no doubt.
'Bones' used his long-range kicks to stifle Gustafsson's renowned boxing in the first two rounds. In the third frame, Jones landed a takedown in the center of the octagon and proceeded to take full mount against his Swedish counterpart, before landing hard strikes from top position to earn a statement-making TKO win.
#3. Jon Jones vs. Vitor Belfort – UFC 152
Across Jon Jones' storied career, there have only been a handful of moments where he was truly in danger of losing a fight. The most precarious position he's ever found himself in came against Vitor Belfort at UFC 152, where he rallied back from almost getting submitted to earn a stunning victory.
Looking to defend his UFC light heavyweight title for a fourth time, Jon Jones took on Vitor Belfort at UFC 152 in Toronto, Canada. In what turned out to be one of the most entertaining fights of Jones' career, the then-champion got caught in an armbar by the challenger in the opening round.
Jones tried a few different moves to get his arm out of danger, and eventually resorted to lifting and slamming Belfort to break free. 'Bones' dominated the next three rounds before ultimately submitting his Brazilian foe in the fourth frame, putting him in a crucifix before forcing the tap with a keylock submission.
#2. Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier 2 – UFC 214
Yes, this isn't officially a win on Jon Jones' record. Nevertheless, it's one of the most brutal in-cage finishes we've ever seen from 'Bones' and as such, it deserves to make it onto this list.
The rivalry between Jones and Daniel Cormier is the greatest beef in the history of the division. The duo locked horns for the first time at UFC 182, where 'Bones' came away with a unanimous decision win, outclassing 'DC' every step of the way.
Jon Jones was then stripped of his title after testing positive for benzoylecgonine, the primary metabolite of cocaine. While he was serving a suspension, Daniel Cormier won the light heavyweight belt and even defended it twice before Jones was cleared to re-enter competition.
At this stage, the bitterness between the two was at an all-time high, with Cormier's title win and defenses largely stuck in the shadow of Jones. They ran it back in the main event of UFC 214, where 'Bones' reclaimed his title with a scorching finish.
Cormier started the rematch well, showing significant improvements and key adjustments from their first meeting. However, Jones' quality shone through in the third round as he landed a picture-perfect head-kick to stagger the then-champion before finishing the fight with vicious ground-and-pound.
#1. Jon Jones vs. Lyoto Machida – UFC 140
What makes Jon Jones one of the most unique fighters to ever grace the octagon is his patented nastiness. The longtime light heavyweight champion is known for his in-cage meanness and disregard for his opponents, which has produced some jaw-dropping finishes.
His submission win over Lyoto Machida, in particular, stands out as the best of his career.
Jon Jones and Lyoto Machida squared off at UFC 140 back in 2011, with the former looking to defend his 205-pound strap for a second time. Machida, widely regarded as one of the best strikers in the promotion at the time, was coming off a stunning front-kick knockout win over Randy Couture, so the hype surrounding this matchup was palpable.
Machida enjoyed a lot of success in the first round, catching Jones multiple times whenever he blitzed forward. He caught the champion flush on the chin four times in the opening five minutes, but couldn't finish the fight, with 'Bones' staying safe and maintaining his distance towards the end of the round.
The second frame started with more of the same, until Jones cracked Machida with a hard elbow, opening a gash on the Brazilian's face. He then dropped Machida with a step-in hook, and as 'The Dragon' tried to scramble back to his feet, the champion latched on to a standing guillotine choke.
Jones pressed Machida against the fence as he tightened his grip, and referee John McCarthy did a tremendous job of realizing that Machida had been choked unconscious. As McCarthy stopped the fight and broke Jones' grip, the lifeless challenger came crashing down to the canvas.