At first, Jon (Bones) Jones put it down to the “war gods.” Then, upon further review, he pointed the finger at karma.
Either way someone made Anderson Silva pay for disrespecting Chris (The All-American) Weidman in the cage Saturday night, according to Jones.
Silva’s loss has proved to be Jones’s gain.
The UFC’s light-heavyweight champion has taken over as No. 1 in the MMA organization’s pound-for-pound fighter rankings in the wake of Silva’s upset loss to Weidman.
Silva, an icon in the sport who had won all 16 of his previous UFC fights, fell off his pedestal with a thud after clowning his way to a loss.
As he has done in previous fights, the Brazilian middleweight champion dropped his hands and invited his opponent to hit him. This time, the 38-year-old Silva’s reflexes failed him and Weidman connected, felling him before finishing him off on the ground with a few blows.
Jones managed to praise and bury Silva at the same time when the topic came up at Tuesday’s news conference to promote his September UFC 165 title defence in Toronto against Sweden’s Alexander (The Mauler) Gustafsson.
“I think that Anderson Silva is a magnificent fighter. I think that he has an extraordinary gift,” Jones said. “I think he’s got to the point where he really believes in his gift and he’s comfortable with his gift.
“And he abuses his gift. He disrespected the gift by disrespecting his opponent.”
Jones, who turns 26 on July 19, noted that martial arts is built around honour, integrity and treating people with respect.
“He somehow lost sight of that and he paid the ultimate price for it,” Jones added. “I’m not over the Anderson Silva hype train. I know exactly where he was at, you could tell where he was at by the way he was fighting. I think he was fighting at a masterful level.
“I think just got disrespectful and the war gods just made him pay for it. But he’s still that great Anderson Silva in my books.”
After the news conference, Jones used Twitter to adjust his comments slightly.
“Didn’t mean to say ”War Gods“ I was meaning karma,” he tweeted.
Silva dropped to No. 3 in the UFC pound-for-pound ratings, allowing welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre to move up one spot to No. 2. The rankings are decided by media voting.
Jones seemed less than enthused about becoming the sport’s No.1, saying it “doesn’t really feel real.”
“To become No. 1 because Anderson lost doesn’t really make me feel like I accomplished anything,” he said.
“It doesn’t feel real. It doesn’t feel earned,” he added. “Winning this fight (against Gustafsson) will make me feel a little better about it.”
Jones said he will look to continue winning, to make his claim to No. 1 more legitimate.
Gustafsson was shocked by the Silva loss, but said it gives him “a spark, a motivation.”
Jones is coming off a first-round win over Chael Sonnen at UFC 159 in April during which he broke his big toe. Jones didn’t realize he was hurt until his post-fight news conference in the cage when interviewer Joe Rogan looked down and saw the toe was pointing in the wrong direction.
The champion said Tuesday while the toe was getting better, he had been focusing on his boxing to avoid stress on it.
“I wear a boxing boot,” he said of his training regimen. “Alexander having such great hands, I think it’s really important for me to be sharp there in that department.”
Gustafsson (15-1) has also had to heal up. In April, he missed out on a main event in his hometown of Stockholm against Gegard Mousasi when the Swedish Mixed Martial Arts Federation grounded him because of a cut in training.
The two fighters were in good spirits as they posed for photos after the news conference at a downtown sports bar adjacent to the Air Canada Centre. There seemed no bad blood although Gustafsson clearly can’t wait for the battle to begin.
“I’m so pumped up for this,” said the Swede, who plans to train in Stockholm and San Diego (with Alliance MMA). “I’m living the dream.”
Jones (18-1) knows all about dreams, referencing the Silva defeat as a “reality check” for him — even though he would never drop his hands in a fight.
“But watching Chris Weidman’s dream come true, I have to make sure that I continue to be a dream-crusher,” he said. “So that’s what I’m going to do. It motivated me.”
UFC 165, slated for Sept. 21 at the Air Canada Centre, marks the UFC’s fourth show in Toronto and the 14th in Canada.
Jones became the UFC’s youngest ever champion when, at 23, he beat Mauricio (Shogun) Rua at UFC 128 in March 2011.
The six-foot-four Jones has defended his 205-pound crown five times, tying him with Tito Ortiz for most light-heavyweight title defences.
Two of Jones’ title defences were in Toronto, where he beat Lyoto (The Dragon) Machida at UFC 140 and Vitor (The Phenom) Belfort at UFC 152.
“No I’m not sick of coming here. I think it’s great,” the native of Endicott, N.Y., said with a laugh when asked about repeats visits here. “I do get booed a lot here. I don’t understand why, because I’ve been fighting guys from Brazil and I’m definitely a lot closer than Brazil.
“But it’s all good. As long as people are making noise, I’m going to continue to perform and do my best.”
Gustafsson has won six straight, most recently earning a decision over Rua in December 2012. The Swede celebrates each win by having a black shark’s tooth tattooed on his right arm.
His task come September? To penetrate the threshing machine that is Jon Jones’ offence.
According to ESPN’s “Sport Science,” Jones has a daunting 84.5-inch wingspan that allows him to land blows from over three feet away. With his arms extended, Jones can cover 182 cubic feet around him, some 80 per cent more than the average adult male.
But standing 6-5, Gustafsson has some impressive dimensions of his own.