Originally written on hov-mma  |  Last updated 11/18/14

Jon Jones had to climb the UFC ranks just like any other young up and comer. We tend to forget that he had seven dominant showings before being rewarded with his title shot against Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua. It was a different kind of climb though. Before the Tonight Show appearance, the Rashad Evans soap opera, and the eventual culmination into a Nike sponsorship - this was still a young kid - one who would be forced to overcome multiple career adversities.  It was like watching LeBron James in the 2003 McDonalds All-American game. We all knew Jon Jones would be on top of the world one day, it was just a matter of when, and what kind of champion he would be. Let's go back to his fight against Brandon Vera, a fight that took place just over three years ago from today, day where Jones will attempt to tie Tito Ortiz's record for most successful light heavyweight title defenses with five. Brandon Vera was a fighter that had aspirations of becoming a two-division champion in the UFC. In Jon Jones, he would be taking on a man that had to of reminded him at least a little bit of himself, and in hindsight, what he could have been. While Vera certainly didn't amount to even half of what he could have, he also wasn't blessed with the natural gifts we saw in 'Bones'.  It's like God gives him a new pair of elbows on the morning of each fight and says "Here son, now go create some beautiful unadulterated violence in my name." Jones' first three UFC victories were fun to watch. His victories over Gusmao, Bonnar, and O' Brien made it clear that we were going to witness a special career from a fighter with unlimited upside and an inhuman reach advantage over anyone on the heavyweight roster let alone inside of the light heavyweight division. But I believe it was this fight against Brandon Vera that showed the world how scary of a finisher Jon Jones can be. Followed by the Matyushenko contest, and preceded by the Hamill DQ that in reality was a victory, we learned that we were dealing with a freak athlete, one that could essentially write his own script when inside of the Octagon. Present day, it's tough to imagine mixed martial arts without Jon Jones as a champion. Below you can relive one of his most violent finishes, one that reeked of the hunger. The hunger to become what he is today.

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