Welsh UFC star shares record with Conor McGregor, seeks to build legacy
Mason Jones is used to being recognized by locals in his hometown of Blaenavon in South Wales, but it was an encounter on a domestic flight in the United States that demonstrated his growing popularity.
“I’m starting to get recognized by people in the US,” said the Welshman Sportsmail. “I actually was recognized on a flight the other day from Sacramento to Vegas as I left to visit the PI [Performance Institute].
‘The guy that was sitting next to me kept looking at me and asked if I was Mason Jones and he loved my fight against Mike [Davis]. A guy recognized me in the mall the other day so I’m on the right track.
Mason Jones (right) entered UFC with high expectations after signing with Cage Warriors
It’s surely only a matter of time before UFC fans fully realize Jones and what he brings to the Octagon. The Dragon, 26, won a Fight of the Night bonus after his narrow points decision loss to Davis on his UFC debut in January, a fight that was shortlisted in the 10 best fights in the promotion of the first quarter of 2021.
The loss was the first in his professional career, having been signed by Cage Warriors with a perfect record of 10 wins and no losses, although his gritty performance earned him a legion of new fans.
However, Jones insists he has yet to show his true potential on the big stage.
“It was a very bad performance on my part,” maintains the lightweight fighter. “I felt like I only played 40%, even though it was a close fight, I was only 40%. There are never any excuses on fight night, but you’re really going to see a different level of what I can do.
The Welshman is part of a legion of British fighters looking to make waves on the Biggest Stage
However, Jones (left) is different and is the first fighter since Conor McGregor (right) to be crowned Champ-Champ with Cage Warriors
“Nerves were definitely not part of it, I’m never nervous. I was so excited to take the walk. The day I didn’t recover well from weight loss. Some of the things I did before that, I was kind of too tired and just didn’t perform well, that’s what it comes down to.
“No matter how I felt, I still should have won and I just made an accumulation of mistakes that resulted in a loss. It doesn’t change anything for me, it just adds more pressure because if I don’t not win this fight, I put myself at the risk of being cut.
“For most people that extra pressure would keep them from performing well, but for me, I thrive on pressure, I’m never really nervous, it doesn’t affect me. All that matters is that I go out there and get this victory.
The UFC is being introduced to loads of British stars looking to make their mark on the big stage, but none have arrived with the pressure on Jones’ shoulders.
Despite his connection to McGregor, the Dragon insists he “sees targets, not idols”
Jones wants to emulate “pirate” Sir Francis Drake by conquering overseas and bringing his riches home
Last year, the 26-year-old achieved a feat that only Dan Hardy and Conor McGregor have achieved before him: become the two-weight world champion with Cage Warriors. Despite joining an exclusive club with two big names in the UFC, Jones says his Champ-Champ status only adds to his legacy.
“I never see it as a negative thing,” insists Jones. “It doesn’t weigh me down, it helps me get up.
“This is another foundation from which I will build a legacy. The Cage Warriors Champ-Champ fight was a legacy fight for me, now all I have to do is secure my foundation and begin my climb to the top of the UFC.
Understandably, Jones’ Champ-Champ status with Cage Warriors has seen comparisons made to Irish superstar McGregor.
With so many up-and-coming fighters looking to emulate the path taken by the Notorious, it’s hardly surprising that the 32-year-old is idolized by some youngsters.
Still, Jones insists he doesn’t admire any other fighter, with the 26-year-old drawing inspiration from a rather unique source.
“I really don’t believe in anyone’s idolatry,” he says. “I don’t see idols, I only see targets. The thing with idolatry, people try to live other people’s lifestyle. I’ve never been that kind of person.
Jones made his UFC debut on Fight Island in January, suffering his first loss as a professional
26-year-old says he was ‘only 40%’ against Mike Davis in their fight of the night
‘Every time I’ve been asked this question [about role models] at school I always went with Sir Francis Drake. He was a pirate who did what he wanted and was approved by the Queen because he brought in a lot of money, and that’s how I want to live my life.
“It has worked well for me so far and it’s something I really want to do. I never idolize or see things in people.
“We come from a system of begging, borrowing, or stealing where you do whatever you can to get ahead and that’s how we’ve always been and that’s how we’re always going to be.”
Jones’ personality shines over the phone in Las Vegas, and the Welshman has undertones of the great personalities who have thrived in the sport.
Jones adds he relishes the pressure of needing a win after losing on Fight Island
A fighter’s ability to fight his way through big fights has often reaped huge benefits, but Jones stresses that he won’t compromise his values to reach the top of the UFC.
“I’m not the type of person who will change who I am to match the image they want,” adds Dragon. “I’m going to stick to my values and do what I think is right.
“I’m an exciting fighter so I’m going to do what I do best is go out there and focus on winning these fights and beating the best in the world and winning my place in the ranks.”
It all starts on Saturday night, of course, as Jones returns to action to take on UFC veteran Alan Patrick. The 37-year-old has an abundance of experience at the highest level, having fought in the UFC for the past 10 years, but the Brazilian has lost his last two trotting fights and Jones is hoping to make three.
The Dragon is back in action on Saturday in Vegas, where he faces veteran Alan Patrick
Win will put Jones on track to climb the Light Mountain as he bids for the summit
“I just think I’m cleaner, I’m sharper, I’m faster, I think I’m smarter than him and I have a really good game plan with how I think the fight is going to go.” unwind.
“We’ll see how the fight goes, I’ve prepared thoroughly, I’ve done a lot of analysis, we’ve built a plan and everyone is happy with everything that’s going on.
“I’m confident I think he’s probably confident but at the end of the day I think I’ll stop him in both.
“It all started with this fight on Saturday. There’s no point in looking anything forward until you’ve beaten what’s in front of you so I’m just focusing on beating Alan in Vegas on Saturday and after that everything else will line up. for me.
Jones is at the foot of the mountain, and although he has all the credentials to reach the top, he needs to get up and claim a victory in Sin City.