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At 26 years old, Jon Jones may already be the greatest light heavyweight in MMA history. 

With his win over Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165, Bones surpassed Tito Ortiz’s UFC light heavyweight record with a sixth consecutive title defense inside the organization. A seventh on Saturday would put Jones in third across all divisions and only three behind record-holder Anderson Silva.

Challenging Jones this weekend will be Glover Teixeira. The Brazilian has gone 5-0 since joining the UFC roster and will be one of the heaviest hitters the champion has faced.

In addition to the 205-pound championship bout, UFC 172 will feature another light heavyweight contest between Top 15 contenders Phil Davis and Anthony Johnson. The bout will mark Johnson’s return to the Octagon. Rumble was released following a January 2012 loss to Vitor Belfort after missing weight multiple times.

Also, middleweight contenders Luke Rockhold and Tim Boetsch will look to take big steps toward a shot at the 185-pound championship. 

The UFC 172 weigh-ins will be held Friday at 4 p.m. ET. When the weigh-ins begin, live video will be available through the above stream. 

Below is the entire fight card for UFC 172, which will be held Saturday in Baltimore.

 

UFC 172 Main Card (10 p.m. ET on Pay-Per-View)

  • Jon Jones vs. Glover Teixeira
  • Phil Davis vs. Anthony Johnson
  • Luke Rockhold vs. Tim Boetsch
  • Jim Miller vs. Yancy Medeiros
  • Max Holloway vs. Andre Fili

 

UFC 172 Prelims (8 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1)

  • Joseph Benavidez vs. Tim Elliott
  • Takanori Gomi vs. Isaac Vallie-Flagg
  • Jessamyn Duke vs. Bethe Correia
  • Danny Castillo vs. Charlie Brenneman

 

UFC 172 Early Prelims (7:30 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass)

  • Chris Beal vs. Patrick Williams

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Jared Rosholt recently notched his second win in the UFC, and the 27-year-old expects plenty more to follow in the coming years.

View full post on Recent News on Sherdog.com

Is Glover Teixeira the one?

Jon Jones hasn’t lost a fight in a little over four years, and even that was the result of a disqualification rather than an outright defeat. Now, the 34-year-old Brazilian has the chance to do what the best light heavyweight fighters in the world haven’t done: beat Jones.

That fight is the main event of what promises to be an eventful UFC 172. Some of the company’s more recent pay-per-views have been a little underwhelming, so it’s important that Saturday night’s event delivers.

Looking at the entire card, these four matches should provide the most excitement.

 

Joseph Benavidez vs. Tim Elliott

This is a fight that could easily be featured on the PPV. Joseph Benavidez has run through just about every top fighter in the flyweight division not named Demetrious Johnson, while Tim Elliott is in need of a high-profile victory after his loss to Ali Bagautinov back in Nov. 2013.

Elliott has such an unorthodox, unpredictable style that he may be able to spring the upset. Benavidez will no doubt have a hard time devising a game plan because it can be quickly rendered useless.

The key will be whether Benavidez gets an opening on the inside. Although six of his wins have come via knockout, Benavidez will no doubt look for his patented guillotine choke to end the fight.

Prediction: Benavidez via submission in Round 2

 

Luke Rockhold vs. Tim Boetsch

This is what you always want to read before a fight, per FoxSports.com’s Marc Raimondi:

Luke Rockhold got a nice bounce-back win against Costas Philippou in January, but he could still use another statement victory to make everyone forget about that defeat to Vitor Belfort in his UFC debut.

While Tim Boetsch isn’t an elite contender in the middleweight division, he’s tough as nails and has enough power to end the fight if Rockhold gives him the chance.

The problem for Boetsch is that Rockhold‘s wise enough to keep his distance, and more importantly, talented enough to stay away and still earn enough points to win the judges’ scorecards. Rockhold will scientifically take Boetsch apart and coast to victory.

Prediction: Rockhold by unanimous decision

 

Phil Davis vs. Anthony Johnson

Phil Davis has a point to prove in this fight after Dana White publicly criticized his desire, per ESPN.com’s Brett Okamoto.

“I like Phil and I don’t want to throw Phil under the bus, but Phil needs to get over that mental hump,” White said. I’ve got guys breathing down my neck for fights, like, ‘I want this fight. I want that fight.’ Phil Davis is like, ‘Eh. I’ll hang out around No. 4 here.’ He’s not that guy that comes across to me like, ‘I f—ing want it. I want to be the best in the world.’”

Davis responded in kind:

I try to let my fighting do the talking, but I’m going to have to let my talking do the talking for a little bit. If you want Phil Davis calling and your texting your phone every day, telling you he wants to fight Jon Jones, that’s fine. I thought that just winning would get that done, but that’s not necessarily true.

With Davis this motivated, he should come out and attack Anthony Johnson right from the opening bell. “Mr. Wonderful” won’t be too reckless, but he’ll stamp his authority in Rounds 1 and 2 before going in for the kill in the third.

One thing even White can recognize is Davis’ ability to control a fight and devise a game plan.

If Mr. Wonderful wants a title shot against Jones, he’ll need an emphatic victory over Johnson, and he knows it.

Prediction: Davis by submission in Round 3

 

Jon Jones vs. Glover Teixeira

How can you possibly bet against the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world and one of the best fighters of his generation?

Jones has shown no signs of slowing down, and Teixeira is too much of an unknown quantity to see how he wins this fight.

The Brazilian is no slouch, having won his last 20 fights—a fact not lost on Jones, per UFC on Fox:

Teixeira has a ton of power, and if Jones isn’t careful, he could find himself on his back. The challenger has no doubts about his ability to take the champion down with a few big blows, per UFC Tonight:

Looking at Teixeira’s resume, he’s never fought anyone close to the ability of Jones, and therein lies his biggest problem. What’s worked for him in the past likely won’t work on Jones. Nothing has fully prepared him for what he’s about to face on Saturday.

“Bones” knows that if he stays on the outside and out of the reach of Teixeira, the fight is all his. He’ll let Teixeira tire out as the fight goes on and end the proceedings in the third.

Prediction: Jones TKO in Round 3

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Fighters sometimes fall off the map.

We, as fans, don’t want them to, but that’s usually the natural order of things in this sometimes cruel world of mixed martial arts.

Time moves along and these fighters are for the most part forgotten. Castaways that have been chiseled down to bone and extracted from the sport they put every last ounce of blood, sweat and fear into.

However, a few stragglers sometimes get snatched from the quicksand, reinvented and rebooted, and thrust back into action to avenge the things they may have lost when they first fell.

Here are six of those fighters and why we’d love for their exciting careers to get back on track.

Begin Slideshow

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The elimination fights happened. The teams have been picked. It was time for the real nitty-gritty part of The Ultimate Fighter 19 to commence.

This episode revolved around the first middleweight quarterfinal bout of the season. The matchup saw two normal welterweights throw down, as Cathal Pendred of Team Penn took on Hector Urbina of Team Edgar.

Most of the episode saw a buildup to the first fight, as much was examined on both Urbina and Pendred. Pendred, an Irishman, got into the house with a bye, as the opponents they lined up for him either missed weight or backed out before the bout. Urbina, a Mexican-American, talked about being the oldest of several brothers and sisters, as well as being a role model to them.

The fight itself was nothing to write home about. Urbina clearly won the first round with takedowns and powerful striking. However, Pendred took home the second and third round through clinch, control and outlanding Urbina, taking a 29-28 unanimous decision in the process.

Team Penn retained the pick and chose the first light heavyweight fight. They chose their own fighter, Dan Spohn, to fight last pick of Team Edgar Todd Monaghan.

 

Teams

Team Edgar 185 Team Penn 185 Team Edgar 205 Team Penn 205
Ian Stephens Mike King Corey Anderson Anton Berzin
Dhiego Lima Tim Williams Patrick Walsh Josh Clark
Eddie Gordon Cathal Pendred Matt van Buren Dan Spohn
Hector Urbina Roger Zapata Todd Monaghan Chris Fields

 

Notes and Observations:

  • BJ Penn and Frankie Edgar went almost opposite directions when picking a coaching staff for this show. Edgar’s coaches are all the guys he trains with in New Jersey, as he has employed Mark Henry (boxing coach), Ricardo Almeida (jiu-jitsu/wrestling coach) and Ali Abdelaziz (manager/judo coach). Penn, although he brought his boxing coach Jason Parillo, took coaches from other camps in the form of Mark Coleman (wrestling coach) and Andre Pederneiras. It will be interesting to see if the all-star team with Coleman and Pederneiras works out better, or if the “family feel” staff that Edgar brought will end up being advantageous.
  • Cathal Pendred didn’t have to get into the house. The UFC is pushing into Ireland. I hate to be one to look into conspiracy theories, but even if other fighters missed weight or pulled out, the UFC would still find replacements to get a fight into the house. Remember in TUF 9 they found a couple late replacements because guys missed weight or failed medicals? Just a thought…
  • The weigh-in staredown and the general vibe I am getting from the fighters is exciting. You can tell everybody is ecstatic to be there and anxious to compete. Some seasons haven’t had the exciting feel coming from the fighters, but various aspects from this episode revealed this could be a fun season.
  • I really liked what Pendred was doing to land knees on Urbina in the headlock position. Urbina put his hand down to make knees to the head illegal, so Pendred would simultaneously lift Urbina‘s body up which would pull his hand off the mat and smash him with a knee. Very crafty stuff.
  • Don’t expect Pendred‘s fights to be pretty, as was the case with his win over Urbina. He is a natural 170er fighting a bunch of men who are much larger than he is. He is going to have to grind and make fights ugly to be successful.
  • Next week’s fight seems like it will be a straight beatdown. I don’t see a high ceiling for Monaghan, who got destroyed before pulling an armbar out of nowhere, while Spohn is one of my favorites to win the season. In fact, I don’t expect this fight to last long at all. I think Spohn will light Monaghan up quickly and put him away early.

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Luke Rockhold won’t go as far as to say he has a long-term plan for himself and his fight career. But there is a “but” coming.

“I have a rough draft,” he said. “I have a few things I’m thinking about.”

It’s definitely not that he’s looking past Tim Boetsch, the man he fights this Saturday at UFC 172. And yet, here comes another “but.” Rockhold is the heavy favorite in Vegas and elsewhere to handle Boetsch.

Rockhold knows that, and he wants to act accordingly.

“I always plan on going in there and destroying my opponent,” Rockhold said during a UFC 172 media session attended by Bleacher Report. “…If I fight my fight, there’s no reason to think this shouldn’t be a quick night.”

The former Strikeforce middleweight champion has reason to be confident. He’s 11-2 as a pro and is coming off his first UFC victory, a highlight-making liver-kick TKO of Costas Philippou. Another win Saturday is the clear and necessary next step in any plan, but that doesn’t render Rockhold incapable of looking for what’s beyond it. And it turns out there are some old scores out there that he believes need settling, for him and for, let’s say, MMA’s larger cosmic order.

The overarching goal, of course, is the UFC middleweight title and all the various glories and riches that accompany it. With that goal alone in mind, Rockhold’s own preference for his next opponent is, in his mind, an open-and-shut decision.

Jacare is a guy I’ve fought, and he’s ranked above me and he’s pretty much the only [available] guy above me,” Rockhold said. “We had a great fight. I’m not going to lie; it was a close fight, but I believe I won that fight. All respect to Jacare, but I won that fight and I believe I’ll beat him again. If that’s the fight they want to make after this, that’s OK with me.”

The Jacare in question would be Ronaldo “JacareSouza, who wore the Strikeforce belt before Rockhold took it from him by decision in 2011. Since moving to the UFC, a newer, more well-rounded Souza has gone a crisp 3-0 with two first-round stoppages, and as such is on the short list of challengers to Chris Weidman’s title.

Rockhold also said Wednesday he would like to take a break after UFC 172 and return to the cage in late summer or early fall. That could line up nicely with Souza’s schedule, seeing as Souza last fought in February and doesn’t yet have his next fight lined up.

But here comes that “but” again. You know who else doesn’t have a fight lined up yet? A one Mr. Vitor Belfort

You might remember him. He knocked out Rockhold last May (in Rockhold’s UFC debut, no less) with a spinning head kick for the ages. One head-kick knockout later (this one on Dan Henderson) and Belfort had a shot at Weidman.

Now that is all in limbo, thanks to the uncertainty surrounding Belfort’s testosterone levels and related ability to get a license to fight in Nevada (or most anywhere else, for that matter).

In an interview with Damon Martin of Fox Sports, Rockhold called Belfort’s title derailment a fitting act of “karma.” He also wants a rematch. Belfort is higher than Rockhold in the rankings. But this is about more than the rankings.

“I want to avenge that [loss] in a rematch,” Rockhold said. “…I want to go back and get that fight.”

He also pulls no punches when discussing Belfort and testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). 

“It’s nice to see TRT get that out of the sport,” Rockhold said. “I’m not a fan. It’s a way for guys to mask their steroid use. Vitor getting pulled from the title shot because of his random test—and not releasing his test—says a lot. It speaks volumes.”

That’s one personal matchup for Rockhold, then. A kind of needed karmic realignment. But if he’s dishing out karmic realignments, why stop at one? Why not be the karma police of the middleweight division?

Enter Michael Bisping. That would be the carnival-barking Brit who has made his share of enemies in the UFC and across the MMA fan sphere. The same Bisping who just lost an uninspiring decision to Tim Kennedy on April 16, and who brushed off Rockhold’s challenge back in January, but just Tuesday came crawling back to the notion. Much to Luke Rockhold’s delight

 

 

 

 

“It just brought a smile to my face,” he said of Bisping’s tweet. “It’s a ‘the tables have turned’ kind of deal. I called him out after the Vitor fight. I wanted him, I wanted to step it up and he said to win a fight in the UFC…I won my fight and he turns around and calls me out.”

Would he still be open to fighting Bisping?

“I’m not opposed to an easy paycheck.”

Rough draft indeed. So while Boetsch is the current focus and Souza and the belt are in his longer-term sights, it seems there are more pieces to the puzzle. Rockhold’s not afraid to put them together, or to veer away from the usual soundbites in pursuit of something that interests him personally as well as professionally.

“I just realized I want to be myself,” Rockhold said. “I am who I am. Love me or hate me, you have to let your personality go. This is me. I’m going to talk…This is who I am, this is how I feel.”

Scott Harris is an award-winning freelance writer who covers MMA for Bleacher Report. For more MMA and things like that, follow Scott on Twitter.

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Luke Rockhold poses during a photo session on February 25, 2014 in Cartagena, Colombia. (Getty)

The veteran is clearly one of the best in his division, but one loss irks him to no end.


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For the first time ever, the UFC will bring its traveling circus to Baltimore on Saturday night, and the best fighter in the world is coming along for the ride.

Jon Jones has not competed since a narrow win over Alexander Gustafsson in September. This time around, he defends his championship against a top light heavyweight with an entirely different skill set than any opponent he has faced thus far.

Glover Teixeira has long been lauded by hardcore fans as one of the best light heavyweights in mixed martial arts, but visa issues prevented him from making his Octagon debut until 2012.

He has not lost a fight since 2005. His 20-fight winning streak is impressive. But does he have what it takes to compete with one of the best talents the sport has ever seen? And, more importantly for our purposes, is he worth gambling on? We’ll take a look at the main event and the rest of the main card in the following pages.

As always, a disclaimer: Like any other sport, betting on mixed martial arts is about managing your money. It is fun to throw money on big underdogs in the hope they’ll pay off handsomely. But my goal with these previews is to help you make smart, informed decisions. If there is no value in a particular fight, I will tell you so.

But I also recognize that some of you just want to bet on fights. For you, I have included my standard Just for Fun and $5 Parlay at the end. It represents a chance for you to throw $5 down on five or more fights and hope it pays off big.

Let’s get started, shall we?

All odds provided by BestFightOdds.com.

Begin Slideshow

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UFC 174 continues expanding and is now adding a light heavyweight tilt between The Ultimate Fighter Season 8 winner Ryan Bader and former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante. The bout was first reported by The Canadian Press, via Yahoo Sports.

It’s an interesting tilt between 205-pounders who were once among the best in the division but find themselves trying to put up their first winning streak in years.

Bader wound up in a short-notice top contender’s bout with Jon Jones in 2011 but lost via second-round submission. He has been unable to recapture the success he had early in his UFC career and has gone 4-4 since 2011, despite starting his UFC career with a 5-0 record. 

In his most recent bout, he bounced back from a brutal knockout loss at the hands of Glover Teixeira with an uncomfortably lopsided win over Anthony Perosh. Bader controlled the entire fight with his wrestling and pounded Perosh for what felt like hours on end.

Cavalcante, meanwhile, took the Strikeforce light heavyweight belt from Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal in 2011 with an impressive third-round TKO. He never successfully defended the belt, though, as Dan Henderson knocked him out.

He hasn’t been nearly as impressive since and owns a 1-1 UFC record. The loss came from a brutal mauling at the hands of the recently released Thiago Silva, while Feijao won via submission at the expense of Igor Pokrajac in November.

UFC 174 goes down on June 14 in Vancouver, British Columbia. It is headlined by a flyweight title fight between Demetrious Johnson and Ali Bagautinov and co-headlined by Rory MacDonald vs. Tyron Woodley. Going by the UFC.com listing for the card, Bader vs. Cavalcante will likely be on the main card.

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It’s 8:45 in the morning, and I’m standing in the lobby of the famed Jackson/Winkeljohn Mixed Martial Arts gym. Photos of the gym’s fighters through the years line the walls, and the gray reception desk is covered with boxes and mail. 

Jackson/Winkeljohn is not what you expect a famous gym to look like. It has churned out champions for years and has been home to some of the most famous fighters in the world. Given this, one might expect a large building with high-tech equipment and all the latest amenities designed to produce incredible athletes.

That is not the case.

The gym is modest, located in what might best be described as a sketchy part of town. It is one of those places where, unless you know exactly where you’re going and what you’re looking for, you might not find it at all and end up in a place you don’t want to be.

There are mats and there is a cage, but there is not much else.

The gym is quiet this time of the day. Just inside the main entrance, Julie Kedzie is riding a stationary bicycle. Kedzie’s fighting days are over, but she remains the heart and soul of Jackson/Winkeljohn. She is usually the first to arrive and the last to leave, spending her time assisting head trainer Greg Jackson and filling in when training partners are needed.

Kedzie’s dog Bailey pads around the gym. Bailey is a pit bull/Rhodesian Ridgeback mix. She is massive, and I find myself hoping she has already eaten breakfast. Right now, she is trying to find Kedzie but not having much luck. Kedzie whistles and calls her over, offering her reassurances that all is well.

“She gets nervous when she can’t find me,” Kedzie says.

The gym’s pro practice is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., and the building begins slowly filling up with fighters. Kyle Noke is the first to walk through the front door. Then there’s Tim Kennedy, preparing for a bout with Michael Bisping. There’s also Travis Browne, readying himself for a title-contender bout with Fabricio Werdum. Andrew Craig, Clay Guida, Holly Holm and countless others pile in. 

At 10 a.m. on the dot, the man many believe to be the best mixed martial artist in the world pulls into the parking lot in his Roush Ford Raptor. He strolls into the gym, clad head to toe in black and red Nike Pro Combat spandex, and heads to the mat for practice.

Jon Jones has arrived.

***

Jones, the UFC’s light heavyweight champion, faces the next test of his already legendary career at UFC 172. He’ll face Glover Teixeira, a Brazilian slugger who has not lost a fight in eight years. The UFC has sold Teixeira as Jones’ most dangerous opponent to date. But then, that’s how they always sell his opponents, and still he has defended his championship a record six times.

I came to Albuquerque for one thing: to see what a day in his life looks like.

Jones is a complex and interesting character. He is highly intelligent and self-aware, and likely the best fighter that we’ve ever seen in mixed martial arts.

I want to see what makes him tick. I want to see if he is just as obsessive in his everyday life as he is in the cage.

After a brief warm-up, Jackson begins leading the fighters in the first session of the day. They’re working on grappling techniques against the wall today. Jackson offers an explanation for what he’d like to see, and then the fighters pair up to go through drills. Jones is matched with Browne. They drill the technique for a few minutes, then switch partners. Jones pairs up with Kennedy. Jackson demonstrates a technique for releasing the clinch against the cage and immediately executing a spinning back elbow.

“Set the table up,” Jackson yells. “If they want a takedown there, they’re gonna be in trouble.”

Jones and Kennedy work the technique. Jones is famously versed in both spinning strikes and using his elbows to devastating effect, but today is not about causing harm. It is about technique, about getting it right and about making it second nature. Jones and Kennedy use slow movements, attempting to execute the exact way Jackson wants them to.

“I want grace under pressure,” Jackson says. “The more tired you are, the stronger you should appear.”

A bell rings. It is time for a water break, so the fighters relax, and Jackson/Winkeljohn suddenly resembles a hippie commune. That is, if the hippies were world-class athletes. Guida and other lightweight fighters, who won’t begin their pro class until the heavier-weight fighters are done, relax on the mats and carry on conversations. More dogs have arrived at the gym, and they freely explore various nooks and crannies.

The bell rings again.

“It’s grappling time,” Jackson says.

Jones and Kennedy pair up again. Jones begins on his back, with Kennedy in his guard. The idea is for Kennedy to improve his position while preventing Jones from escaping, but he is unsuccessful. For a brief second, he gives Jones too much space, and Jones does something surprising: He backflips out while pushing Kennedy away with his legs.

“Dude, did you see that move?” asks Malki Kawa. He is Jones’ manager, and he’s here in Albuquerque to check on his prized client. “Have you ever seen anyone do that before?”

I admit that I have not seen anyone do this before. But it is par for the course with Jones, who displayed creative and unique techniques during his historic rise to the top. In his most recent fights, however, Jones has resembled a more traditional martial artist.

“I think I fight a little more safe than I used to,” Jones says. “I don’t do all the wild and crazy things I used to.”

Jones and Kennedy switch partners. Jones and Keith Jardine, a former light heavyweight contender who is now retired from the sport, go through the grappling process all over again. Jones struggles to escape against Jardine.

“Dude, you’re strong,” Jones assures Jardine. “You felt so strong there. I had problems.” Jardine sheepishly shakes off Jones’ praise.

The gym is filling up with lighter-weight fighters. Guida, Isaac Vallie-Flagg, Erik Perez and others stand off to the side and warm up. Jackson calls an end to the heavier-weight fighters’ practice.

“Twelve minutes until we warm up, lightweights,” Jackson barks.

On the main mat, Jones continues grappling. I have heard that Jones has been especially driven during this training camp. Though he beat Alexander Gustafsson last year, the bout was far too close for Jones, and he is training like a man who never wants to experience a close fight again.

“I definitely know that I performed better in the past. It humbled me. A good humbling is always good, though. And it also let me know that I have heart,” Jones says. “I trained my butt off to not have any close fights. And now that I’ve gone through a close fight—or a war, as some would call it—now I know even more about myself. I know when the going gets rough, I’m not going to give up.”

Stories about Jones during this training camp have been circulating around the gym: A training session will end, and everyone will walk off the mat. Everyone except for Jones, that is. He will beckon to a random training partner, telling them to come back on the mat for more work. A look of resignation fills their eyes. They know what is about to happen, and they’re not particularly enthused by it. But they trudge onto the mat anyway, because that is what training partners do.

“I am aware of people’s expectations, and it motivates me. I’m fighting against the top guys. Every fight I fight is against the No. 1 contender,” he says. “So I’m aware that if I didn’t work, I would not be here. Being the champ is an accolade. It doesn’t give you any invincibility.”

Kennedy leads the group in a post-workout speech, exhorting his teammates to continue giving their best effort in practice. Jones gets in the cage for a quick, light sparring session. As with the morning’s grappling workout, he is not going full-bore. His punches and elbows are more statements of intent than anything designed to do damage.

Jones finishes sparring. He comes over to me and introduces himself with a handshake, even though we have met many times.

“You want to grab some lunch?” he asks. I tell him I do. We head out to the parking lot and pile into his truck. Jones says he got the truck a year ago; an old friend from Ithaca recently drove it across the country so that Jones could have it during his training camp. I climb in the back seat with Kawa, and we are off.

***

Jones fires up the radio. He is listening to country music. I tell him that I didn’t realize he was a country music fan.

“I don’t listen to rap or hip hop during camp because I don’t want the negativity,” he says. “Everything is ‘F this’ and ‘F that,’ and I just don’t want it around me.”

Before lunch, we make a stop at Calibers, a local gun and weapons store. Jones is a gun enthusiast. Years back, he became obsessed with different rifles and the ways you can customize them. There are scopes and barrels and flashlights and tons of other things you can use to improve a rifle, and all are fascinating to Jones.

“They are my only hobby,” he says.

Today, he owns 12 assault rifles. He is also a deadeye shot and loves competition shooting. For Jones, it is not the idea of owning a gun that is intriguing. He does not buy guns for protection. It is another outlet for his creativity and competitive nature, the part of him that will not stop brainstorming and planning.

We are stopping at Calibers because Jones has a new barrel for one of his M-4 clone rifles, and he needs to have it fitted by a professional. While a Calibers employee undertakes this task, Jones inquires with another about a scope he’s had his eye on. He is disappointed to learn Calibers doesn’t have this particular scope in stock. 

Here’s one thing you should know about Jones: When he decides he wants something, he wants it right now. It is not the bratty tendency of a spoiled millionaire, but yet another way Jones uses strategy to control his life.

“If I decide I want something and I don’t get it, then I’ll be spending all my time thinking about it,” he says. “And I don’t want to focus on those things. All that time is taking away from time I can spend thinking about fighting. So when I want something, I buy it.”

Kawa illustrates Jones’ point by talking about the time Jones had his eye on a particular wristwatch. Kawa told him to wait, that he could get the watch for a reduced price, if only he would have the patience to allow him to make some calls.

This is what Kawa does: He negotiates. Everything. Later, I will listen as he spends five minutes arguing over the $15 shipping cost for another scope Jones orders.

Jones couldn’t wait, though, and the next time Kawa saw the champ, he was sporting the wristwatch. He’d paid full price because he didn’t want to wait. He doesn’t want to wait on the scope, either, but he is resigned to ordering it.

After taking a few minutes to show Kawa a particular brand of knife Jackson has been raving about, we are off. We pass Bob’s Burgers, which professes to be the home of something called the Ranchero Burger. Jones opens the sunroof and fires up the radio once again; this time, it is Bob Dylan.

The sun beams into the truck, adding instant warmth to a chilly day. It is too bright for Jones, who pulls his Nike hoodie over the top of his head.

“That Albuquerque sun,” he says with a sigh.

***

Jones calls his fiancee, telling her he wants to drop by the house and pick up his credit card and some fruit. He rents houses in Albuquerque for his training camps. They are never in the same location, because he likes to keep things fresh. A pair of scootersa recent purchase for he and his fianceesit in the driveway. Jones says he picked the house because of the quietness of the neighborhood.

“There are old people walking down the street every day,” he says. “It’s peaceful.”

Jones picks up his fruit and credit card, and we head to lunch at the Elephant Bar Restaurant. It is a favorite haunt for Jones, and he is on a first-name basis with many of the employees. We occupy a booth in a corner of the restaurant and discuss his upcoming fight with Glover Teixeira.

Jones maintains a “playbook” for each of his opponents. The notebooks are the result of studious film-watching and strategizing; Jones is a voracious viewer of film. Jackson says that one of his biggest problems with Jones during fight week is getting him to stop watching film of his opponents and go to sleep.

“For example: For Rashad Evans, we have this playbook. And it will tell you his tendencies and what techniques will work on him,” Jones says. “And I could give you this playbook, and it will tell you how to beat Rashad.”

Jones sees tendencies in Teixeira’s game, weaknesses he believes he can exploit. He is not willing to share these tendencies, which does not surprise me at all. But it is not hard to imagine Jones, hunched over a laptop, watching and rewatching film of Teixeira while taking notes. This obsession is but one of the traits that separates him from the rest of the pack.

As we finish lunch, Jones tells us about a fan in Dubai who has invited him to come hang out. Normally, this type of request would be ignored. But this fan is different: He owns lions. A lot of them. Aware of Jones’ fascination with the big cats, the fan reached out and made contact, and a friendship was struck. Jones is planning a trip to Dubai to see the lions and the rest of the city’s sights.

In a few weeks, Jones’ Instagram will become the focus of controversy. For now, the champion is simply amused by the service.

“He’s the only fan I’ve ever followed on Instagram,” he says.

***

With bellies full, it is time for another stop at a toy store for big kids. This time, it is Ultimate Car & Truck Accessories, where Jones plans on having all sorts of things done to his Roush.

The need to upgrade his truck is born out of competition with his brother Arthur. This is no surprise, as life has been one long competition between the three Jones brothers. From wrestling each other in the basement as kids to upgrading giant, expensive trucks, each strives to do better than the other.

Arthur has the same Roush truck as Jones. He recently added some TVs in the headrests and new lights and other various knickknacks. Jon will do the same, because of course he will, but he will also take things one step further. No, Jon will take things 100 steps further.

He orders new headlights, a grill, monstrous tires, red running lights and other accessories that will make his truck the envy of every driver on the road. But more importantly, it will make Arthur envious.

“This is just Round 1 between me and Arthur,” Jon says. “Once he sees this, he’ll upgrade his truck again, and then I’ll have to add more on mine. It never ends.”

***

During our visit to Ultimate Car & Truck Accessories, Jones revealed something that has Kawa fuming when we leave. In exchange for free parts and upgrades to his truck, Jones has agreed to an autograph signing for the paltry price of $10,000 at SEMA, the world’s largest gathering of vehicle enthusiasts.

“Why didn’t you call me, bro? $10,000? You should have called me. That’s ridiculous,” Kawa says.

The agent is mad, he says, because Jones’ usual autograph signing price is $25,000 for two hours. Jones argues that he’s happy with the deal because of the free upgrades and new toys for the truck. This does not satisfy Kawa, who seems mostly disappointed that he has missed out on a chance to negotiate.

“How about you cut me a check for all the money I could have saved you at the end of the year?” Kawa says.

We are heading back to Jackson/Winkeljohn, where Jones will have his evening kickboxing session with striking coach Mike Winkeljohn. But first, we make a stop at another gun store.

This one is different. Calibers felt like the Best Buy of gun stores, with its employees dressed in nice slacks and shirts with embroidered logos.

This new store feels like the birthplace of a new Civil War. If gun lovers ever feel the need to rise up against the government, they would be well-served by stocking up here. There are assault rifles, knives and even silencers (which are illegal in some states). There is camo netting on the walls, a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag and little refrigerator magnets telling me to do my civic duty and rebel against “The Man.”

Jones has his eye on a new scope for the rifle he had fitted with a muzzle at Calibers. A store employee shows Jones his own competition rifle, which has the scope Jones desires mounted on top. They do not have it in stock, the employee says, but they would be happy to order it for him.

“I’ll give you $1,000 for yours,” Jones says.

“That’s my competition rifle. I have to use it next week,” the employee says.

“I’ll give you $1,500 for it,” Jones counters. The employee reiterates that no, he needs it, but he is happy to order it. Jones is disappointed that he can’t have the scope right now, but orders it for $900 anyway.

As he waits for the employee to ring up his order, Jones switches the subject.

“Do you guys know what the UFC is?” he asks quietly.

I realize that not one of the store’s workers has mentioned anything about fighting. They have not asked for an autograph or a photo. It is clear Jones is not used to this.  

They nod in agreement. The employee who helped Jones order the scope says they do, in fact, know what the UFC is.

“Well, I’m one of their champions right now. I’m Jon “Bones” Jones, the light heavyweight champion,” he says.

The oldest employee in the store speaks up.

“We know who you are,” he says.

“Do you think we fawn over Greg Jackson when he comes in here?,” another says.

Jones laughs.

“No, I guess you don’t,” he says.

***

After a day filled with guns, trucks, more guns and food, we are headed back to the gym. As we travel the highway at an uncomfortably fast speed, I make an observation to Jones: He is unfailingly polite to his elders.

“My brothers are the same way. We used to be complimented on that as kids growing up. People would tell my parents that their kids had good manners,” he says. “My mom and dad taught us to never express ourselves negatively to adults. And now, even though I’m 26, if you are older than me, you get a please and thank you. It’s something that I take seriously.”

He gives the appearance of being remarkably grounded for such a rich and famous young man. He has no entourage, unless you count Kawa, who is with him more often than not. One of Jones’ oldest friends from New York traveled to Albuquerque to stay with him during training camp.

“I was just there, on the other side of the tracks, just three years ago. So that’s kind of who I am. I wasn’t raised with a silver spoon in my mouth. I earned every ounce of success that I have gained,” he says. “That’s what keeps me grounded: just knowing that it all could be gone. You have to work hard to maintain it. You don’t want to be the guy who was a jerk to everybody when you were on top of the world. If something ever happens, you still want to have friends.”

We continue driving, past West Mesa High School, the home of the Mustangs. Jones has opened the sunroof again, and the crisp, clean Albuquerque air flows noisily through the open windows. Though Albuquerque is not, and has never been, much to look at, one can see why so many great fighters have decided to settle here. The weather is nice. There are mountains. Its people look after their own.

When Jones was deciding where he wanted to train, his choices came down to two: Jackson/Winkeljohn or Tristar in Montreal. Jones chose the former. And now, with the sun slowly settling over the horizon, I can see why: There’s just something about the place.

Jones pulls off the highway and turns left onto Route 66.

A few minutes later, we pull into Jackson/Winkeljohn. Jones’ demeanor subtly changes. A few minutes earlier, he was poking fun at Kawa and laughing. He was casual. Now, the smile is gone. The trucks, the guns and the toys are ancient history. His eyes take on a different look.

We are not yet inside the gym, but Jon Jones has already gone back to work.

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