The light heavyweight challenger Alexander Gustafsson took Jon Jones further down the beaten path than he had ever been before at UFC 165. That was, until Jones unleashed his signature spinning elbow and loosened Gustafsson’s grip on the victory.
That was Jones’ most recent in game-changing elbow strikes from the ground and pound, toe to toe and spinning positions. Jones has consecutively defended his title six times (a UFC record), earning the right to have his name permanently associated with “champ” and maybe even a tad more. If he keeps bludgeoning opponents with his elbows, MMA commentators just might someday be shouting: “Oh, man! Did you see that Jon Jones Jacknife?!”
It all started in the spring of 2008, and by fall of the following year Jones won his first bout in the UFC against Andre Gusmao with his unorthodox striking which, of course, included spinning elbows. At UFC 94 he took out Stephen Bonnar with a spinning elbow in the first round, and the following year in March of 2010 an elbow to Brandon Vera‘s face helped Jones again finish in the first round and sent Vera home with three broken facial bones. In August of that same year, Jones took down Vladimir Matyushenko in the first round with a TKO via elbows, which eventually led him to his light heavyweight title shot against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Jones became the youngest UFC champion ever by winning that fight and has been jackknifing opponents ever since.
Jones will soon face the formidable Glover Teixeira at UFC 172, who will have to navigate Jones’ reach by staying outside of it, then close the distance quickly and work from way inside. The problem here for Teixeira is that “inside” Jones’ punching reach puts him in perfect position for an elbow, so really, it isn’t inside — at least not with this fighter. With Jon Jones, getting inside will not save you from lethal strikes, not to mention take downs and submission. Good luck, Teixeira — hope your strategy is jackknife proof.