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Sherdog.com: Do you remember anything as the high point of your high school wrestling career?
Jones: It was my senior year at the senior national tournament. I was ranked 11th in the country. I was always a big fan of the guys who were ranked number one. I always watched those guys. I was just from a small town. I never even thought I could be competitive with those guys.
Then I really started to believe in myself. Something just clicked. I still have the videos to this day. I got aggressive and I was strong even though physically, I really wasn't that strong. I just have supernatural power. From that day on … I ended up taking fourth place, just way more than anyone expected from me. It was way more than I expected from myself, to make top four in the country against kids who had been wrestling their whole lives. From that day on, I started believing in myself.
Now I truly believe in myself and I really believe that one day, I'll be the number one fighter in the world and break barriers that just haven't been seen before.
Sherdog: You had the goal of wrestling for Iowa State but then ended up taking a year off of college when your MMA training began. Tell us that story.
Jones: That track got derailed a little bit. I kept the positivity and I kept the faith and now I'm on a different track.
Me and my girlfriend I was with throughout high school, we had a kid together that was really unexpected. My parents raised me to not be like a lot of guys who have kids and abandon the whole situation. I wanted to use the athletics that I had to make money and kind of continue to be an athlete.
So mixed martial arts was the closest thing. I said, “Man, I want to keep this stability going,” and it worked out. It was a big leap of faith to put school on hold. I just got so much criticism, people not believing in me.
Sherdog: Who in Greg Jackson's camp have you been working with to prepare for Matt Hamill?
Jones: I worked with Rashad Evans a lot. Rashad has very explosive double legs and has very fast hands. Hamill's boxing mixed with double legs is going to be a lot slower than Rashad’s. Keith Jardine has been working with me. Keith's doing a great job. Even though (he and Hamill) don't look alike, they don't have the same style or anything, Jardine's imitating Hamill's standup, setting up punches with shots, fake shots, overhand rights, all that type of stuff.
With Keith we studied film. The percentages of what combinations Hamill throws and what he's most likely to throw first and that stuff. I've watched a lot of his fights. I almost feel like I know his timing already. I've just grown mentally and take the sport more seriously. Before I was going into fights with no game plan. It's just crazy that I made it this far like that.
I do a lot of kickboxing with Carlos Condit and I do a lot of kickboxing with Cowboy Cerrone. I figure if I can block those guys' kicks, counter those punches … they're just so much faster.
We were really working on my weaknesses. We focus on all the ways I could possibly lose, like being held down and watching the clock tick away.
Sherdog: Your fighting style often seems improvised, yet at certain points some of your flashy moves -- spinning back elbows and the like -- look premeditated. In the Jake O'Brien fight, you came out with a flying knee seconds into the second round. Do you think one or two moves ahead, even with the crazy stuff?
Jones: Not really. I train a lot of different techniques. I honestly hate it when people say that it's flashy. It's not flashy to me; it's just who I am. I had to teach myself how to fight when I first started fighting. So, “one-two-three, jab-cross-hook” wasn't appealing to me. It was the cool videos that I saw and said, “Wow, man, no one's going to block that. They're not going to see it coming.”
I hear people saying things like, “He's going to get caught one of these days trying to do that flashy showboating.” I really don't mean to showboat. The people close to me realize that's just who Jon is; that's just how he fights. I train all of those techniques.
Now I have a lot of structure and a game plan. Greg Jackson is a phenomenal person and such a smart strategist. You'll still see a lot of funk, but it's going to be a little more coordinated funk.
Sherdog: How does it feel to German suplex someone?
Jones: It feels great. It feels really cool. I would get those every once in a while in my high school career. Wrestlers are smart; they know how to stand on their weight. In a cage fight, the guy grabs you as hard as he can, he rushes into you with the most energy he can, and really gives you the momentum (to suplex him). Really, it's momentum, not the strength. It takes no strength whatsoever. A 120-pound kid could throw me if I push into him the right way. It's more a technique thing.
That's why I think it's funny that everyone on the blogs, even though I try not to look at them, says Hamill's so big and strong and “I can't possibly see Jones pulling off a throw.” Are you kidding me? It has nothing to do with who's stronger. It's not about who's the better wrestler. It's about who wrestles better that night.
Sherdog: Considering it's the highest level in your weight division, what did you think of the Machida vs. Rua fight? When do you think you'd be ready for that caliber of opponent?
Jones: I got a lot of bad press for saying in an interview that Machida is not Bruce Lee and that he's beatable.
That got worded really bad. I did give a quote that great muay Thai would beat great karate. I think that came to pass. I didn't say I was this great champion of muay Thai; I just said great muay Thai could beat great karate. I think Shogun proved that I was right in that situation. I give that fight to Shogun.
I wish I could answer that question (of when I'd be ready to challenge for the title), but Hamill is the only thing that really matters. Looking past him would be such a mistake. If I don't get past Hamill, all that stuff will be derailed. Hamill is my title shot right now.