UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has a lot of haters headed into his attempt at a record-setting eighth straight title defense against Glover Teixeira in the main event of this Saturday night’s (April 26, 2014) UFC 172 from the Baltimore Arena in Baltimore, Maryland.
He has his hands full with Teixeira, the power slugger who has won an incredible 20 straight bouts. Teixeira is also a good friend and former training partner of the man whose record Jones broke for UFC 205-pound title defenses, legendary champion and current UFC executive Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell.
Liddell has been speaking out against Jones as of late, picking Teixeira to finish the polarizing champion. Jones chose to take the high road on tonight’s edition of “UFC Tonight” on FOX Sports 1, noting that he’s not about to open his mouth and trash fan-favorite Liddell:
“You know, you gotta expect Chuck to take his boy’s back, or have his boy’s back, and that’s what he’s doing. He has been coming out saying a lot of other stuff like he would walk through my punches if he ever fought me, and he would have beat me in his prime, and all this type of stuff. I’m not going to sit here and insult Chuck; you know, he’s a very, very loved person by the masses, so I’m just going to keep my mouth shut, but it’s like, “Come on, Chuck, just knock it off. I respect you, so chill.”
However, Jones said he does believe that Liddell’s support of a Teixeira victory is a bit of a conflict of interest, as he is a UFC executive. Ultimately, Jones would be glad to welcome Liddell back to the Octagon:
“Yeah, I think it is a little bit, um, and you know, at the end of the day, if Chuck wants to come out of retirement, I welcome him to a superfight.”
An interesting jab at “The Iceman,” but not an event likely to happen anytime soon.
Talk moved on to a prevalent topic surrounding “Bones” recently, that of him supposedly ducking the suddenly long list of top contenders at light heavyweight right now. Jones said he’s learned to let this talk slide right off his shoulders:
“You know, I was getting annoyed at it at first and taking it very personal. At this point, I kind of find it amusing. Guys like Phil Davis calling me out, Daniel Cormier and Gustafsson, everyone accusing me of ducking all three of these guys. I mean, how many ducks can I do? You know what I mean?
I am right now, contracted to fight Glover Teixeira, and technically, when you have a contract to fight someone, you can’t possibly duck anybody else. I’ve just learned to take it all in stride and begin to laugh at it a little bit, and realize that, no matter what is said, I have to fight one person at a time.”
All Jones can do is beat the man right in front of him and that is Teixeira. He knows he can’t look past the challenge that the talented Brazilian presents. If he gets by Liddell’s protégé this weekend, several dangerous competitors await “Bones.”
Are we right now witnessing the start of Jones’ finest hour, or the beginning of his decline? Give the champ’s insane size, reach, striking, and wrestling ability, it’s hard to argue against the former.
Photo: Tom Szczerbowski for USA TODAY Sports