Viewers' guide to UFC 140
Invincible. Untouchable. Irresistible. Unique.
I'll stop there, lest you become jaded by or even bored with the flurry of superlatives that naturally get tossed around whenever it's time for UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones to step into the octagon.
But guess what: Those lofty words were pulled from the deep recesses of my memory, words once spoken with all due reverence not for "Bones," but for his opponent in Saturday night's UFC 140 main event in Toronto.
Just over a year and a half ago, Lyoto Machida was 16-0 and the champ. He was the one being talked about as not simply unbeatable but unhittable. Then he fought Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, who hit him. And hit him. And beat him.
The aura instantly vanished.
Before the year was out, "The Dragon" lost for a second time, dropping a close decision to Quinton "Rampage" Jackson.
What aura? Machida? I don't remember him ever having an aura.
The Brazilian karate man did right the ship in April with a breathtaking jumping front kick KO of Randy Couture, sending the 47-year-old UFC Hall of Famer into retirement. That victory, combined with an array of injuries to other contenders and some right-place-at-the-right-time fortune, put Machida where he is now. In UFC 140. In the main event. In a title bout.
Against the fighter who now is hearing all of the accolades that once came his way.
Machida isn't whining about being viewed in a different light -- a less-spotlit glimmer that's made him a heavy underdog this weekend.
"He doesn't pay too much attention to what people are thinking," said Machida's manager, Ed Soares, translating his fighter's answers during a video interview this week with MMA Fighting. "The most important thing is that he believes in himself."
Through Soares, Machida then told a story about when Frank Sinatra was a kid and his mother questioned his desire to become a singer.
"That doesn't do anything in your life," she said, in Machida's telling via Soares. "What are you thinking?"
And Ol' Blue Eyes is said to have responded, "As long as I believe, then anything can come true."
It was a sweet, even meaningful story, although you've got to wonder how many in MMA's young demographic sat there listening and thought, "Sinatra. Sinatra. Name rings a bell, but I can't place him. Is he one of the guys on
Anyway, the point is that Jones, 24, is where the 33-year-old Machida used to be. He has something Machida wants and "The Dragon" believes he can grab that championship belt back because anything you believe in can come true.
That sounds like a magical game plan, but Jones is the one who's been making all of the magic happen lately in the light-heavy division. This will be his fourth fight of 2011, his third against a champion or former champ, and he's barely broken a sweat. At 14-1, with the lone loss coming on a questionable disqualification in a bout he was dominating, Jones has devastated everyone put in his path.
You'd think he's the second coming of Lyoto Machida or something.