At the start of 2011, Jon Jones was a fast-rising prospect with a few more questions surrounding him than answers. At the end of it, he has emerged as one of the top three pound-for-pound fighters in the world, a 24-year-old wunderkind who has looked all but unbeatable in his ascent to the light heavyweight summit. A lot can happen in 12 months.
Jones tipped the scales at 205 pounds for his scheduled five-round title defense against former champion Lyoto Machida (204) in the UFC 140 main event on Saturday at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. The eight others slated for main card duty, heavyweight co-headliners Frank Mir (260) and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (239) among them, also met their contracted weight requirements without issue at Friday’s official weigh-in.
Anchored at Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts in Albuquerque, N.M., Jones has rattled off five consecutive lopsided victories -- all of them finishes -- since his disqualification loss to Matt Hamill at “The Ultimate Fighter 10” Finale in December 2009. The Rochester, N.Y., native last appeared at UFC 135 in September, when he dazzled Quinton Jackson with his reach and creativity before submitting him with a fourth-round rear-naked choke. Jones owns other notable wins over “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 1 finalist Stephan Bonnar, 2005 Pride Fighting Championships middleweight grand prix winner Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 8 winner Ryan Bader and former International Fight League light heavyweight champion Vladimir Matyushenko. A leading contender for “Fighter of the Year,” Jones became the youngest champion in Ultimate Fighting Championship history, at 23 years, 242 days, when he throttled Rua en route to a third-round TKO in March.
Machida, who opened his career at 16-0, weathered a difficult stretch in 2010, as he surrendered the light heavyweight crown to Rua and later came out on the wrong side of a disputed split decision against Jackson. The 33-year-old Brazilian karateka rebounded at UFC 129 in April, when he knocked out hall of famer and former two-division titleholder Randy Couture with a front kick to the face. Machida wields excellent all-around skills, as evidenced in knockouts of former 205-pound titleholder Rashad Evans and American Top Team brute Thiago Silva and his submission victory over onetime Pride standout Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou. Lauded for his defensive and counterstriking ability, Machida also holds a 2003 win against former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin.
UFC 140 -- which airs on pay-per-view at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT -- will also feature a light heavyweight showdown pairing Tito Ortiz (206) with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (204.5), a welterweight scrap pitting Claude Patrick (171) against Brian Ebersole (170.5) and a featherweight duel matching Mark Hominick (145) with Chan Sung Jung (145.5). Two hours prior, ION Television will carry four preliminary bouts, as Krzysztof Soszynski (206) meets Igor Pokrajac (205), Jared Hamman (185) faces Constantinos Philippou (185), John Makdessi (155.5) locks horns with Dennis Hallman (*158.5) and Yves Jabouin (136) battles Walel Watson (135.5).
Meanwhile, the remaining three fights will stream live on the UFC’s Facebook page: Mark Bocek (156) vs. Nik Lentz (156), Rich Attonito (170.5) vs. Jake Hecht (170.5) and John Cholish (156) vs. Mitch Clarke (154.5).
UFC 140 “Jones vs. Machida”
Saturday, Dec. 10
Air Canada Centre
UFC Light Heavyweight Championship
Jon Jones (205) vs. Lyoto Machida (204)
Frank Mir (260) vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (239)
Tito Ortiz (206) vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (204.5)
Claude Patrick (171) vs. Brian Ebersole (170.5)
Mark Hominick (145) vs. Chan Sung Jung (145.5)
Krzysztof Soszynski (206) vs. Igor Pokrajac (205)
Jared Hamman (185) vs. Constantinos Philippou (185)
John Makdessi (155.5) vs. Dennis Hallman (*158.5)
Yves Jabouin (136) vs. Walel Watson (135.5)
Mark Bocek (156) vs. Nik Lentz (156)
Rich Attonito (170.5) vs. Jake Hecht (170.5)
John Cholish (156) vs. Mitch Clarke (154.5)
Dennis Hallman failed to make weight and will forfeit a percentage of his purse.