Author’s Note- So when I originally wrote this (3/14/2011) I thought I was being clever comparing the two’s careers. As it turned out, EVERY MMA WRITER WROTE THIS ARTICLE! Stupid MMAJunkie stealing my thunder.
Where were you two years ago? Maybe you were waiting in line for Chinese Democracy. Were you being disappointed by Quantum of Solace? While we were all living our normal everyday lives Jon “Bones” Jones was doing something a bit more tasking. Jones was having his first professional fight. Fast forward three years and the New York native has broken out to be one of the top fighters in the UFC’s Light Heavyweight division. At 23 he has demolished everyone in his path from perennial gate-keeper Stephan Bonnar to fellow future star Ryan Bader. Destroying his fellow fighters with nothing more than athleticism and size to his advantage.
Then again, Jones’ track to the top is far from new to the reigning champion. If anything it’s a wee bit familiar.
Like Jones, Rua had been destroying whoever was put in front of him. Becoming the next big thing in the world of mixed martial arts. And in the year 2005, also at the age of 23, Rua had his coming out party. Within a 5 month span Shogun would beat Quinton Jackson, Antonio Rogerio Noguiera, Alistair Overeem and Ricardo Arona in the 2005 PRIDE Grand Prix. With the latter two victories being in the same night. In the years following Shogun would go on to beat legends like Chuck Liddell and winning the UFC Light Heavyweight. All before the age of 30.
This Saturday, these two fighters will be meeting in the cage. But more importantly, they’ll be hitting a pivotal moment in their respective careers. Now that he’s broken into the top-tier can Jones rely solely on his physicality? Can Rua come back after 10 months and handle this seemingly new breed of fighter? No matter what happens, UFC 128 is all but guaranteed to be a landmark moment for each fighter’s career.