It's brought him to the Title, and has been a major reason he's been able to defeat several former Champions, defending this particular belt for the most times since Chuck Liddell's run. His excellence has been appreciated by many already, but at least one former Champion believes Jones is already in the discussion for greatest of all time.
"Jon Jones is spectacular," said UFC 148's Tito Ortiz, who will be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame this summer, in an interview with Fighter's Only. "I think he'll go down as one of the greatest. In fact, he's already one of the greatest right now. He thinks outside the box, the guy is always doing something different. He's a great wrestler, his Muay Thai is really, really good – I watched the Rashad [Evans] fight and he just picked Rashad apart."
As Ortiz nears his final fight on July 7, a third bout with Forrest Griffin, he's positively excited about what the future holds for the sport, and sees Jones at the forefront of this next generation of athletes in MMA.
"He's the next generation of fighters," Ortiz said. "And that's what makes MMA so great. I can't wait to see the next generation of fighters after him too. If you think that Ken Sharmock and Royce Gracie were the first generation, and I was the second generation, and Jon Jones is the third generation, when what are the fourth, fifth and sixth generations be like? I can only imagine."
"And that's what makes out sport so great, because the young kids that are coming up and want to be the next Tito Ortiz, or the next Jon Jones, it's amazing to see. I'm just so excited to see what comes next in the sport of MMA and in the UFC Octagon."
Penick's Analysis: Ortiz isn't alone in those beliefs, and Jones already has the opportunity ahead of him to tie the record for most defenses of the Light Heavyweight Championship - a record owned by Ortiz - this year. A win over Dan Henderson and then likely Alexander Gustafsson would tie that record, with one more win giving Jones the record at just 25 years old. He's come a remarkably long way already, and he's an incredible young fighter already. If he can avoid more pitfalls outside of the cage, there's no telling just what he'll be able to do in the cage over the next decade.
[Jon Jones art by Grant Gould (c) MMATorch.com]