Mixed martial artists come from every corner of the globe, bearing a variety of styles. Sometimes, fighters are products of their environment, favoring disciplines prevalent in the country or state from which they hail. Various regions of the United States are considered factories for great fighters, though that certainly is not the case with each state. In this weekly Sherdog.com series, the spotlight will shine on the best mixed martial artist of all-time from each of the 50 states. Fighters do not necessarily need to be born in a given state to represent it; they simply need to be associated with it.
His out-of-competition issues notwithstanding, Jon Jones has become the measuring stick for all mixed martial artists from the state of New York.
Still in his 20s, Jones has already left an indelible mark on the sport and thrust his name into the Greatest of All-Time conversation. “Bones” owns a 22-1 record, with his only defeat coming by disqualification to Matt Hamill in December 2009; he was on his way to an easy victory over Hamill before unleashing a series of illegal 12-to-6 elbows at “The Ultimate Fighter 10” Finale. Jones’ accomplishments inside the cage will stand the test of time. The Rochester, New York, native became the youngest titleholder in Ultimate Fighting Championship history when he trounced Mauricio Rua at UFC 128. Jones went on to defend the crown eight times, beating Quinton Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans, Vitor Belfort, Chael Sonnen, Alexander Gustafsson, Glover Teixeira and Daniel Cormier in succession. Then, he ran aground.
Jones on April 28, 2015 was stripped of his title and suspended indefinitely by the UFC following a hit-and-run incident in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He returned to the UFC a year later to capture the interim light heavyweight crown with a five-round unanimous decision over Ovince St. Preux. The victory set up a rematch with archrival Cormier in a UFC 200 unification bout on July 9, but Jones was flagged by the United States Anti-Doping Agency in a pre-fight drug screen -- he tested positive for the banned substances clomiphene and letrozole -- that forced him to withdraw from the historic card. He later received a one-year suspension.
A generational talent who has yet to conquer the demons in his personal life, Jones’ suspension will run through July 6, 2017; he still faces possible disciplinary action from the Nevada Athletic Commission. The MMA world can only hope it has not seen the last of him.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Chris Weidman, Matt Serra, Rashad Evans, Dennis Bermudez, Uriah Hall, Aljamain Sterling