The disdain that can build up against longtime winners in any sport is being directed at the
Jones, 27, has proven to be a major talent, and now that he's seven successful title defenses into his reign, aspects of his personality are drawing more attention than his skills inside the octagon.
His opponent Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Daniel Cormier, has pushed Jones' buttons, calling the champion a "fake" for what took place at their 2010 meeting at
"I bet I can take you down," Jones told Cormier at that meeting. Cormier, 35, said Jones' words "festered" as Cormier proceeded to become Strikeforce heavyweight champion. He is now 4-0 in the UFC, and 15-0 in his mixed martial arts pro career.
The vitriol continued in August when the pair engaged in an off-air conversation during a television appearance, with Jones repeatedly calling Cormier a vulgar term and Cormier telling Jones he's "a terrible human being" and a "chameleon."
Later that month, Jones suffered a knee injury in training, postponing the originally scheduled Sept. 27 bout.
"I've said some dumb things. When you do that, you get people to use that against you. But after I win this fight, all of this goes away as long as I learn from it," Jones said.
What has he learned? "When you've got a camera in front of your face, respect that fact, never let your guard down," he said.
"It's great for the UFC to have a long-lasting champion. It creates emotion. You create a guy that fans can develop a strong hate base with. I know people are watching to see if this'll be the fight I lose and to see if I can do it one more time."
Jones' seven successful title defenses since winning the belt in March 2011 are three shy of former middleweight champion Anderson Silva's record 10 consecutive defenses.
"I have youth, I'm more versatile, with more tactics," Jones said. "I've spent a lot of time learning to do what I do. I have a unique set of skills. If it's a wrestling match, he [Cormier] does have an advantage. But it's not a wrestling match."
"When we step into the cage, I'm going to do what I came here to do," Cormier said. "I'm glad we finally get to settle our differences in the cage. In life, you can argue, you can fight, scream and yell, but we can get in the cage together and settle this."
Ultimately, the fight may come down to whether Jones can fulfill his boast to Cormier years ago.
"The thing that most concerns me is [Jones] has great championship-level experience, he's very long, very tough," Cormier said. "For all of that, I still believe that I'm better. I've won 15 fights, dominated 15 fights. Now's the time to continue competing the way I compete. I'm going to be me inside the cage."
Jones predicts an entertaining scrap, but said he expects to disappoint those fans expecting him to lose.
"If I'm bruised up and bloodied, or if I pick him apart in being victorious, I'm going to be so happy, so proud, sitting there backstage, thinking, 'Man, I did it again,'" Jones said.