Ultimate Fighting champion Jon Jones took down Vitor Belfor, and that was pretty much that. Even though he was fighting with a damaged arm, Jones assumed command of the bout and by unleashing the most lethal elbows in mixed martial arts.
It’s a formula that has, in just 18 months, made him one of the most decorated and dangerous fighters in UFC history: takedown, batter with elbows, finish. His opponents usually come out of fights looking like they had their faces raked along barbed wire.
His ground and pound is the deadliest in the sport, bar none.
The script flipped early, this time, though. Belfort, the massive underdog, didn’t come to be pummeled and surrender meekly. And as Jones was preparing to do his thing, Belfort caught him in an arm bar. He appeared about to snap Jones’ right forearm as the crowd roared.
“I heard it popping,” Belfort said of Jones’ arm.
But Jones, who was on his way to becoming Public Enemy No. 1 among UFC fans, refused to tap and give away his title. And he fought an entire fight with an arm that he believed to have suffered nerve damage.
He fought flawlessly and methodically, breaking down Belfort before submitting him in the fourth with an Americana keylock. It would have been a brilliant performance under the best of circumstances, but considering Jones may have trouble using the arm to hold his coffee cup on Sunday, it was beyond amazing.
“Jon Jones did look unbeatable,” UFC president Dana White said.
That invincibility, along with the quirky, carefree personality he showed at the post-fight news conference, will make him plenty of fans.
He angered a large portion of them by declining to fight Chael Sonnen on Sept. 1 at UFC 151 on eight days’ notice, which resulted in the first cancellation in UFC history.
But he put that long past him on Saturday, in a way reminiscent of his early days as champion.
On March 19, 2011 at UFC 128, the night he won the title from Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Jones stopped a mugging. At the post-fight news conference that night, he animatedly described it, drawing laughs from all who heard him speak.
He brought that light-hearted version of himself with him on Saturday. He said he knew he would be booed, and so he tried to counter it by walking to the cage to Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved?”