There's a photo making its way around the MMA blogosphere from UFC 126 and MMA Weekly photographer Scott Petersen that really is the essence of the old saying "A picture is worth a thousand words."
Another MMA blog site has posted a detailed viewpoint of what this photo says but I thought I'd also take a stab at describing just a fraction of what this photo says.
In it, we focus on a triumphant victor, reveling in the joy of his victory. He's a young fighter who has accomplished his biggest win to date and quite possibly is in the best moment of his life. He's joyous. He's excited. He's on cloud nine.
If we turn our glance to the background, we see a second fighter on his way out of the cage yet taking a second to eye his new challenger. As the veteran fighter and division champion he's like an aging leader eyeing his rival to the throne.
The first fighter is Jon Jones, 23, who had just defeated fellow UFC light heavyweight Ryan Bader on Saturday and was told he would be fighting for the light heavyweight championship in six short weeks at UFC 128.
The second fighter is the current light heavyweight champion and future opponent of Jones, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (19-4). After training for a fight with Jones' teammate Rashad Evans and learning of his recent injury, Rua came in the octagon gracefully to congratulate his new opponent.
But this photo says more. Jones (12-1) is a young, ever-so talented phenom that has only been training MMA for three short years. He fights with a confidence and bravado that only a young fighter with his prodigious talent and athleticism can. And with each new fight he only continues to improve, to learn and experience. Many believe that Jones is the future king of the 205 pound weight division. When will that future start?
And then there's Rua. The Brazilian Chute-Box trained warrior was in the same position as Jones just four short years ago. Before coming to the UFC, in an MMA organization called "Pride" over in Japan, Rua dominated the 205 pound division. Beating such renowned fighters as Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Ricardo Arona, Alistair Overeem, Antonio Rogerio Noguiera and Hiromitsu Kanehara. He was the prodigy with the jaw-dropping talent.
A couple knee injuries later and Rua, although champion, has seen his career stalled to some degree. He hasn't reeled off win after win like many would have predicted. Yet he's still just 27 and coming off a fabulous knockout victory over the previously undefeated Lyoto Machida. He's perhaps at his best and ready to start creating a legacy.
The photo captures not only the moment but the entire month and a half to follow, perfectly. In the foreground is the brash young phenom who is on top of the world and in the background is the hardened veteran who was in the other's shoes not too long ago. He knows what Jones is feeling, he knows what it's like to have all of that hype put on his shoulders at such a young age.
It's very rare you come along a photo like this. It is truly one of those "one in a million" shots that is perfectly timed to capture the look given by Rua just as he leaves the cage. Just a great photo that should really create some buzz leading up to this fight if it needs anymore.