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Jon Jones speaks to media for the first time since DWI arrest, talks next fight

Jones headlines Labor Day weekend card in Las Vegas against Dan Henderson

UFC 126 fight night

Justin M. Bowen

Jon Jones enters the arena to face Ryan Bader for their light heavyweight bout at UFC 126 Saturday, February 5, 2011 at Mandalay Bay Events Center. Jones won by submission.

Click to enlarge photo

UFC's Dan Henderson talks to fans at a Q&A session in Portland, Ore. before UFC 102 in this file photo.

The UFC Fan Expo has a way of bringing out even the most reclusive of fighters.

Such is the case this weekend with UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who had tucked himself away for more than a month after crashing his Bentley into a pole and pleading guilty to driving while intoxicated in Binghamton, N.Y.

Jones appeared publicly for the first time since the incident tarnished his previously pristine reputation. He was at a press conference hosted by Xyience, one of the 24-year old’s loyal sponsors.

“You live and you learn,” Jones said. “That’s really all.”

Jones declined an opportunity to offer further comment on the matter but said he would address it “sooner or later.” Although two female passengers were hospitalized after the accident, Jones walked away unscathed.

It has not affected his attempt to make his fourth straight title defense in the main event of UFC 151, scheduled for Sept. 1 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, against 41-year old legend Dan Henderson.

The bout will mark the first time Jones has fought in Las Vegas since UFC 126, when he earned a title shot by defeating Ryan Bader via second-round submission.

Jones was plenty open about the challenges Henderson presents. He compared Henderson’s lethal right hand to “a heat-seeking missle” but wasn’t as worried about the challenger’s Olympic wrestling background.

“I’ve been out of college for almost five years now and I don’t enjoy wrestling as much as I used to,” Jones said. “Dan is way older, so I know his passion for wrestling could be slowly but possibly decreasing. Maybe he’s focusing on his striking more. His striking is more of a concern than his wrestling.”

Jones also discussed an opponent he will never face in the octagon — an in-his-prime Tito Ortiz. The 37-year old former champion, who will retire after a UFC 148 co-main event bout against Forrest Griffin on Saturday, made waves recently by saying he could have defeated Jones when he was at the peak of his career.

Ortiz holds the record for most consecutive light heavyweight title defenses at five from the early 2000s, but Jones smiled and chuckled at the suggestion of the hypothetical bout.

“If he’s basing his game around whether he would beat me or not, that’s kind of flattery,” Jones said. “Maybe he would have beaten me, maybe he wouldn’t have.”

Jones is widely considered the fighter most likely to surpass the man in UFC 148’s main event, Anderson Silva, as the best in the history of the sport. The consensus is his recent run-in with the law will prove to have little effect on his ability to reach that status in the end.

But UFC President Dana White does have his reservations after watching the perils of fame derail countless athletes over the years.

“I’ve seen it happen to too many guys,” White said shortly after Jones’ arrest.

White argues Jones is nowhere close to Silva yet. Jones doesn’t mind hearing it.

Knowing he’s got a long way to go is what’s driving Jones.

“I’m big on setting goals, and I think that’s what really helps me keep up the pace and be confident,” Jones said. “One of my primary goals right now is to top Tito’s record, so that pushes me. I have a great opponent. DVR also pushes me. You get knocked out, that’s on TV forever, so I know I’ve got to give it my best.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at

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