Jon Jones is finally back.
Fans and fighters alike were excited to see the former light heavyweight champion victorious in his return to the cage after he sat on the sidelines for the last 15 months. Jones routed through tough, short-notice challenger Ovince Saint Preux at UFC 197.
Unfortunately, though, it was not the triumphant return that many were expecting. Even those in attendance started to boo during the interim title fight. They were booing because they expected Jones to finish the fight early or be “more” dominant than he already was. Even Jones himself stated that he felt like he wasn’t “pulling the trigger.”
Maybe that really was the case. Or maybe, just maybe, the Jackson-Winkeljohn camp is at it again.
What is this you ask? Holding back? Sound familiar?
When Holly Holm defeated Ronda Rousey, the world was in awe. Holm, another member of the Jackson-Winkeljohn crew, had looked less than spectacular against her first two UFC opponents, and many did not feel that Holm stood a chance against the seemingly invincible Rousey. So when Holm was able to outclass the former champion en route to a devastating knockout, it was a confusing turn of events, to say the least. It was then assumed, and later confirmed by Coach Winkeljohn himself, that Holm had been holding back in her previous fights in order to deceive the champion and shock the world.
Is it really that inconceivable to think Jones may have done the same thing?
It’s obvious that Jones had “ring rust.” He looked tentative and a bit lost inside the cage. He did not look like the Jon Jones that fans know and other fighters fear. That’s because this isn’t the same Jon Jones. That man is long gone, and this new one is here to stay.
Take into consideration this: At the time of the Jones win over OSP, UFC 200 was still without its main event. It was obvious that Jones was on a crash course (pun intended) with Daniel Cormier, but it just didn’t seem feasible that it would happen less than three months later. But just four days after UFC 197, Jones vs. Cormier II was announced as the new UFC 200 headliner (Thanks Conor McGregor).
Did the UFC make a huge mistake here? Initially, the answer might seem to be 100 percent yes. But after further review and taking into consideration this current theory, maybe it’s not such a bad idea after all.
Cormier has already started the trash talk. He has said that if Jones fights like he did against OSP, then Cormier won’t have any problems getting the victory. But what if that is exactly what Jones wanted not only Cormier to think, but the rest of the world? In his entire career, the most trouble that Jones has ever been in was not against DC, but against Alexander Gustafsson, whose fight with Jones belongs in the category of top 10 fights of all time. So, with Cormier now thinking that Jones is more beatable than ever, has Jones already won?
To add insult to injury, this fight was added to the UFC 200 card because apparently the UFC didn’t feel that either José Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar II for the interim featherweight title or Miesha Tate vs. Amanda Nunes for the women’s bantamweight title was worthy enough to carry the card. Let’s hope that Jones vs. Cormier II lives up to the hype. If Jones was holding back, it just might do so.