Jack Dempsey / AP
Sunday, Sept. 25, 2011 | midnight
UFC 135 Content
- Rampage Jackson looks ahead after UFC 135 loss to Jon Jones
- UFC 135 results: Jon Jones chokes out Rampage Jackson in fourth round
- Rashad Evans picks Rampage Jackson to win, but pulling for Jon Jones
- UFC 135 weigh-in: Rampage Jackson promises ‘to end’ Jon Jones’ hype
- Jon Jones’ image has changed, but the champion says he’s the same
- The return of Josh Koscheck could coincide with the exit of Matt Hughes
- UFC 135 betting odds and picks
- Trash talk between Jon Jones, Rampage Jackson intensifies UFC 135
- A glance at next month’s UFC 135 card
- Fight between Jon Jones and Rampage Jackson set for UFC 135
- UFC 135 section
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DENVER — Take a minute or two to enjoy one of the biggest accomplishments in your professional career and then focus on the next task at hand.
Welcome to the life of a UFC champion. Or, to be more specific, how Saturday night at the Pepsi Center played out for light heavyweight belt-holder Jon Jones.
Jones brilliantly disposed of Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in the UFC 135 main event, out-striking the power puncher for 16 minutes before sinking in a fourth-round rear naked choke to defend his title.
Jones hugged a few members of his team as the announcer read the official result — victory by submission at 1:14 of the round — before Rashad Evans walked into the octagon. The UFC needed to officially anoint Evans as Jones’ next challenger.
“He’s ruined my special night twice now,” Jones said as he stared across at Evans.
It was déjà vu from seven months ago when Jones defeated Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 128. Evans, wearing a similar-looking suit, also confronted Jones after that victory.
But a minor injury to Jones’ hand prevented the fight from happening and made the opportunity available for Jackson. Jones might not have been ready to move on to Evans again Saturday, but UFC President Dana White was.
“Rashad just came off of an awesome performance against Tito,” White said. “He looked really good. Both these guys want to fight. There’s been a lot of smack talk leading into this fight.”
Jones initially expressed no desire to add to it after getting past Jackson. The 24-year-old champion refused to answer the first two questions pointed his way about Evans.
It was only natural to seek an opinion from Jackson, who has now lost to both Jones and Evans within the last year and a half, at that point.
“I don’t see how anyone can beat Jones, honestly,” Jackson said. “But Rashad says he’s got his number, though. That’s what he says. I’m looking forward to watching that fight now.”
Jackson was referring to Evans’ claim that he used to regularly beat up Jones when the two trained together in Albuquerque, N.M.
The mention made Jones squirm in his seat. He could no longer sit idly by and stick to silence.
“I will say this about Rashad: He does not have my number,” Jones snapped. “He’s not even close to having my number. Me and Rashad, we sparred a few times. And every time we sparred, I know what happened. He talks about one day at practice when he held me down and he lives that day in his head every day, so we’ll see.”
So much for not hyping the Evans pairing through heated arguments. Make no mistake — Jones’ intention is to stay away from that as much as possible.
He’s had enough verbal warfare in the months leading up to the Jackson fight. Jones admitted Saturday night that all the trash talk bothered him and he felt uncomfortable trying to match wits with Jackson.
“The first press conference we had, he kind of killed me,” Jones said. “He was making all these jokes and I didn’t know what to do. I was sitting with someone I really looked up to. Then, I sat there and evaluated that situation and realized I didn’t want to be the victim and talked back. That’s why I did so much talking in this training camp.”
Jones can regret his words all he wants, but he backed them up. Although Jackson landed a few strikes, he never had the champion in trouble.
Jones stuck to his game plan of using distance to his advantage. He kept Jackson away by tossing nagging leg kicks to the shin every time the former champion tried to come in.
He also fulfilled his goal of finishing Jackson, an accomplishment no other fighter in the UFC had been able to manage. Even as everyone else around thought about Evans and the future, Jones preferred to stick to Jackson and the present.
“It was really fun,” Jones said. “You’ve got to believe you can do things before you do it, and I believed I could do it.”