Jon Jones interview: Following his Destiny
Written by Matt Bishel
Thursday, 23 April 2009 15:39
At 22 years of age, Jon "Bones" Jones has quickly become a rising young star to look out for in the UFC's light heavyweight division. With two wins under the organization's banneróincluding an impressive decision victory over TUF season one finalist Stephan Bonnaróheís already making waves in one of the most stacked divisions in the entire sport.
Jon sat down with me to discuss his past, his upcoming bout with Jake O'brien at UFC 100, and his plans for the future.
Matt Bishel (MB): "Hey Jon, thanks for taking the time to do this interview with me."
Jon Jones (JJ): "No problem."
MB: "A year ago you started MMA and burst onto the local Northeast fight scene going 6-0 before getting the call up to the UFC. What made you decide to get into MMA?"
JJ: "My decision to get into MMA was based around me expecting a child. I was a college athlete and I was wrestling and doing my thing at Iowa Central University and after competing for two years at ICU, we found out we were expecting and I basically put college on hold with the thought that I could use my wrestling gifts to make us money. At the time it seemed like a real gamble, but it ended up being awesome and look how itís worked out for me."
MB: "Your story is particularly interesting because compared to many mixed martial artists out there, you haven't been training all that long, yet you've rapidly developed a UFC caliber skill-set. What sort of general advice would you give to young MMA fighters aiming to get to the big show some day?"
JJ: "I would say ďnever say never,Ē and ďnever look down on techniques.Ē You know, I taught myself a lot of techniques and Iíve learned from a lot of random people who werenít the toughest guys. My biggest philosophy is you can always learn something from someone and just always be open-minded to new ways of fighting and new techniques. Bruce Lee says that "the way to fight is to have no way," which means to have no styleóto not be categorized as a specific type of fighter. Instead, you should be versed in everything, and be able to pull off any strike or any type of submission. So just be very open-minded, work very hard, believe in your own capabilities, and youíll be surprised to find where they can take you."
MB: "You have some impressive wrestling credentials, winning All-American honors in 2004, a New York state championship in 2005, and a JUCO national championship at Iowa Central in 2006. Was adapting your wrestling to MMA easy or difficult?"
JJ: "It was definitely really easy to go from wrestling to MMA. I got into MMA by starting off with Jiu-Jitsu and, you know, I trained in Jiu-Jitsu for maybe four months before my first tournament which I won with four submissions and my wrestling skill. Itís helped me out as far as knowing my body and knowing how to take people down. Wrestlers just have a common sense of knowing when theyíre in danger and itís helped me out with my Jiu-Jitsu game a lot. Now that Iím an MMA fighter the wrestlingís paying off big time because itís a real no-no in wrestling to push into your opponent when youíre clinched up. When wrestlers clinch, we control our own body weight and we balance our weight out or we get ready to take each other down. But when a fighter clinches a wrestler, he pushes in and heís standing up tall, basically doing all the wrong things that are going to make it easy for me to get throws and take downs. So wrestling is a huge advantage for me, and besides my striking, itís pretty much how Iíve been winning all my fights."
MB: "Which facet of MMA do you find has been the most challenging for you to learn? Has there been one that you've found surprisingly difficult?"
JJ: "Boxing was probably the hardest. The kicking and the Jiu-Jitsu came to me fairly easily, but the boxing was probably my hardest transition. The ability to block and use the proper blocking technique with the proper punch and the ability to retaliate, you know, trade off blow-for-blow, and just learning how to throw effectively and powerfully and with the right technique. Iíd say the boxing part of the striking was the hardest part of the transition for me."
MB: "We all know your striking is somewhat unorthodox, so how exactly did you adopt this style, and what do you do to improve on your stand-up?"
JJ: "I came up with my style of striking just by being very open-minded and accepting knowledge from wherever I can find it. When I first started off with Team Bombsquad we didnít have a striking coach, so I took it into my own hands to study footage on the computer, like youtube videos and some of the guys would find different websites and just go out to Barnes and Nobles and purchase different Muay Thai books. I just really took it into my own hands to be a real professional, attempting to know all I can know. I guess between reading Karate books, Muay Thai books, and Kyokushin books, you just take all this different knowledge and you mix it all together and there you go with an unorthodox standup game."
MB: "It really seems to be working for you so far. Youíre scheduled to fight Jake OíBrien at UFC 100. Have you started to prepare for that fight yet?"
JJ: "Yeah for sure, definitely. Iím just doing a lot of wrestling. You know wrestlingís really my strong point, so I donít think I have to work on it too much, but just really sharpening up my wrestling and sharpening up my overall game. Jake OíBrienís a big target in wrestling, so Iím just working on my boxing techniques and sharpening up my Jiu-Jitsu. I know he likes to take people down and lay on them a lot of the time, so Iím prepared to work my submissions from the bottom, and work on my takedown defense and boxing technique, to just be a better fighter than him that night."
MB: "Where do you see your fight with Jake O'Brien taking place? Standing or on the ground? What do you think your strengths and weak nesses are compared to him?"
JJ: "I see the fight being a stand-up fight, I donít mind trading with fighters. My whole goal is to be so unpredictable, to be a completely different type of striker then heís ever seen before. I could see him shooting in and going for takedowns the whole fight too, trying to avoid standing with me. In the Stephan Bonnar fight, I just focused on my standup. That was pretty much 100% stand-up training leading up to that fight. I knew that Stephan wasnít taking me down because of my wrestling pedigree, but with Jake OíBrien, Iím actually going really hard in every category of martial arts because heís a well rounded fighter and I just want to be really dominant wherever the fight goes. For the first time Iím doing a lot of Jiu-Jitsu training, a lot of boxing training, and Iím actually doing a lot of wrestling training."
MB: "It sounds like itíll be a great fight. If you get the win over OíBrien who would you want to fight next?"
JJ: "Iíve never ever called a fighter out and I donít think I ever will. Iím just going to leave it in the hands of Joe Silva. But whoever that guy will be, thatís who Iíll be obsessed with. Thatíll just be a part of my destiny."
MB: "You come from a family of big guys and youíve talked about making the move up to HW. Is that something youíre still contemplating?"
JJ: "Yeah for sure. Right now Iím trying to make 205 though. Iím not gonna lie Iím like 215, which is a typical size for an í85 pounder but Iím the biggest Iíve ever been in my life, and I know Iím going to continue to grow. Iím definitely not afraid to fight at heavyweight. I wrestled at 215 in high school. I always loved going against the bigger guys and I feel that Iím more agile then a lot of the bigger guys, so the move up to heavyweight is something that Iím going to look forward to in the future, maybe by the time Iím 23 or 24."
MB: "Do you follow mixed martial arts outside of the UFC? If so, which fighters in other organizations do you find to be the most exciting to watch?"
JJ: "Outside of the UFC, whatever organization Fedor is in. Heís just unbelievable to watch. Urijah Faber in the WEC is pretty amazing to watch, but definitely most of the best athletes are in the UFC."
MB: "Alright Jon, thanks for the interview and good luck in your fight with Jake OíBrien. Weíll be rooting for you at FightLockDown.com. Any final thoughts?"