The UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones (19-1) has a tough test this Saturday in Baltimore, as he defends his title against contender Glover Teixeira (22-2) in the main event of UFC 172. However, most of the attention leading up to this fight has been not about the encounter between the two light heavyweights, who haven’t truly lost a fight since 2005, but more so about Jones’ previous opponent, Alexander Gustafsson and their potential rematch. Because prior, Gustafsson had been announced as the next number one contender after he had defeated Jimi Manuwa at UFC Fight Night in London.
During the media conference call on Monday, the majority of the questions posed to Jones were involving his previous fight of the year title defense against Gustafsson at UFC 165. Many of the questions pertained to the fallout from the fight, and how Jones thinks the fight has helped him develop as a fighter.
“The biggest thing I learned from myself is that I’m game for war, I’m game for it,” Jones said. “No fighter wants to have a fight like that last fight, obviously, getting punched in the head, I wear a permanent scar now over my eye. Nobody wants to have fights like that. But it was about time for me to have one of those, and it was good to know that I can play that game, that I can win that game.”
The champion himself acknowledged that the promotion leading up to this fight against Teixeira may have been overshadowed by questions about Alexander Gustafsson, and that the focus has been shifted by the public.
“I’m not concerned about what Gustafsson is doing at all, right now I’m focusing on Glover. It’s kind of sad that me and Glover [Teixeira] haven’t really had a chance to promote our fight cause everyone is so concerned about Gustafsson,” Jones said, acknowledging the lack of promotion the fight has received.
“I think everything with Gustafsson will come in time. Being 26 years old, us fighting again will be inevitable, so I’m not worried about that right now.”
In between fielding questions about Gustafsson and Teixeira, Jon Jones also had to deal with the continual call outs of another light heavyweight contender that was on the same media call, Phil Davis, who takes on the returning Anthony Johnson, and is looking for his own chance to fight against the champion.
“What ever Glover leaves left–what ever Glover do to him, hey I’m not responsible for that. Glover’s going to do what ever Glover’s going to do, I’m worried about that as it is. But I’ll clean up what ever is left [of Jon Jones],” Davis said.
Despite all the people looking ahead and forward to the rematch between Jones and Gustafsson, and his attention being diverted by certain call outs from fellow light heavyweights like Phil Davis and Daniel Cormier, Jones wanted everyone to know, he is certainly not looking past Glover Teixeira.
“It’s easy to stay focused on Glover, just look at the guy’s record. I mean the guy hasn’t lost a fight in 5 years, he’s beaten 20 people in a row, he’s obviously a very special fighter. I know in order for me to beat such a magnificent fighter, I need to be on my game, I need to be more magnificent.”
“The only thing that’s frustrating about it, is that it creates a perception of me overlooking Glover, which is not fair and I’m not,” Jones said. “I want to go on the record and make it clear that in no way shape or form am I overlooking my opponent. I’m just being asked these questions and answering the questions. Know that I study my opponents tremendously and extensively and that I’m taking this fight very seriously.”
The 26 year old reigning light heavyweight champion has no shortage of confidence when it comes to his skills and how they match up to his opponent. Believing that he is superior in all aspects of the game when compared to Teixeira.
“I think I’m faster, I think I can be equally as strong as Glover,” Jones said. “I might not have the most submissions in the history of the light heavyweight division, but even in the jiu-jitsu category, if it becomes a jiu-jitsu match, I can play jiu-jitsu with him. My ability to scramble, just overall quickness, my unpredictable strikes, my takedowns from the clinch, my takedowns from shooting. I just feel good, I feel confident, and I believe it’s my time.””I’m confident that I can stnad with Glover, I’m sure. He has great knockout power in his right hand, I’ve studied him and some of his favourite combinations extensively. I feel like I’m ready. Glover isn’t the first fighter that I’ve fought with extreme strength and power,” Jones said. “The key is to limit their opportunity to swing on you like that.”
Leading Phil Davis to chime in once again, showing his wit in a war of wards with Jones.
“The last time you tried to handle somebody in the striking department, Alex [Gustafsson] hit you so many times in the right eye, you almost turned into a pirate,” Davis said.
While the soft spoken Glover Teixeira has not been generating as much interest as a potential rematch with Alexander Gustafsson will, if Jones were to defend his light heavyweight title for a record 7th time. The focus now has to shift to Saturday night at the Baltimore Arena in Baltimore, Maryland.
The full media conference call can be viewed below (via MMA H.E.A.T.):
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