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    MMA phenom, Jon Jones, on  battling inner demons and  his forthcoming fight

    Some say, Jon Jones, peaked early. At 23, he became the youngest champion in the history of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Five years later, this Rochester-based mixed martial arts athlete (MMA) is still going strong, ranked number one in the light heavyweight division. But prior to his headlining match at UFC 197 in Las Vegas — where he hopes to defeat title contender Ovince Saint Preux — “Bones” Jones has had to overcome quite a few career roadblocks. Last April, amongst allegations of cocaine usage, multiple traffic transgressions and his involvement in a hit-and-run incident, UFC stripped him of his light heavyweight title and suspended him for six months. “I’m excited to show the world that you can come back from anything, if you’re willing to fight for it,” claims Jones.

    Fighting fit
    With an arsenal of signature moves including spinning back elbows, unorthodox oblique kicks and well-controlled explosive takedowns, the 28-year-old has racked up an impressive UFC record of 21-1-0 (wins-loses-draws). In order to regain his championship belt, Jones has made considerable changes to his physical training regime and fighting style by adding masterclass Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners, Roberto Tussa Alencar and Rafael Freitas, to his entourage. “I felt it was time to start focusing on martial arts. I’ve spent extra time focusing on speed and flexibility,” he shares, elaborating, “I feel stronger and a bit more explosive. Though my weight is lower than normal, I feel like I can hit harder. Also, my cardio is a lot higher than it normally is and I feel like as if I can use all this to my advantage.”

    Positivity rules
    The son of a pastor and a nurse, it doesn’t take much to notice that the martial artiste is a deeply religious individual (with ‘Philippians 4:13’ tattooed across his chest). But, he isn’t the only athlete in the family. His brothers, Arthur and Chandler Jones, play in the NFL and the fighter admits he loves watching them play when he isn’t training for fights. “I’ve made some tremendous changes in my life. I’ve gotten rid of a lot of people whom I think I shouldn’t have been around in the first place. I’ve really started to reach and grab onto people who are positive, people who do the right things, and people who want to see me do well. Things have been getting a lot better for me every day,” he signs off.
    April 24. 7.30 am onwards on Sony ESPN. Details: sonysix.com

    — Anoop Menon


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