Jon Bones Jones has already made a name for himself in UFC after his resounding victory over Shogun Rua, and his rescue of an elderly woman earlier that day which earned him a great deal of interest from fight fans and non-fans alike.
However, it was his victory in March over Mauricio Rua that won him the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship belt, and the expectations that come with it. This is where things start to get difficult for Jones, who must face a bevy of hungry fighters eager to dethrone the UFC golden boy.
Jones's title defense begins on Saturday against a very tough challenger in Quinton Rampage Jackson, as the two prepare to square off in UFC 135 at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
Jackson, 33, has been tagged as a one-dimensional fighter, but has excellent wrestling technique and knows how to box. His greatest asset might be his power, and owning the ability to knock out an opponent with one hard blow might be the best edge he'll have in the octagon.
After losing to Rashad Evans in a unanimous decision in May 2010, Jackson has two consecutive victories that went the distance going into Saturday's main event. In his last match against Matt Hamill, Jackson scored a convincing victory after three rounds, and withstood Hamill's desperate attempts to come from behind to win the fight.
Make no mistake, Jackson is still the underdog against Jones, who is one of the most efficient fighters in UFC.
The light heavyweight champion is the youngest fighter to ever wear the belt, and mixed martial art enthusiasts are in awe over Jones's excellent wrestling techniques as well as his effective spin moves -- using kicks and elbows before getting his opponent on the mat.
There is a propensity in UFC, and boxing as well, to over-rate talent once they've dominated consecutive opponents, and that might be the case with Jones. The 24-year-old New York state-native is certainly a gifted athlete, but it might be to early to call him a UFC superstar.
In fact, there seems to be some perception that Jones is destined to fail because the expectations have been set so high.
Jones seems to be a very focused fighter, and probably won't underestimate his opponents. Should Jones stick to his normal strategy, he will likely have few problems maintaining his belt for a very long duration.
PREDICTION: Jackson will be aggressive in the first round, and that may not be the right approach, as Jones is very capable of seizing upon his opponent's mistakes. Expect Jones to catch Jackson with a sharp cross, and then keep him on the mat so he can hammer Jackson with elbows. Jackson may struggle to find his way out of Jones's grasp, and after several moments of taking elbows, will be fortunate to escape the first round. The second round will be an all-or-nothing round for Jackson, and his attempts to put Jones on the mat will fail, and the champion will continue his aggressive assault.
HOW IT ENDS: Jones wins in a second round knock out.