Jon Jones (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)UFC 145: Can Jon Jones Carry the Torch From Brock Lesnar and Georges St-Pierre? Kyle Symes April 12, 2012 News If you’ve taken a glance over the last handful of pay-per-view cards, you’ll notice that neither Georges St-Pierre nor Brock Lesnar have been headlining any of them. Lesnar officially retired in December of last year and GSP has been rehabbing a torn ACL. If neither man is available to carry the load of being the main UFC PPV draw, then who? Enter the inhuman superhero Jon Jones. Since gracing the Octagon, Jones has had superstar written all over him. Flashy takedowns combined with amazing striking, Jones became an instant hit with fans. As popular as Jones was during his rise up the ranks, his popularity would skyrocket in 2011. Jones began the year with by dismantling former Ultimate Fighter winner Ryan Bader. In the post-fight interview Jones was offered a UFC title shot against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. It would be there, at UFC 128, where the skills of Jones would finally be tested; or so we thought. Jones didn’t allow Rua to get any offense started and put on a serious beating like we’ve never seen done to Rua before or since. Equally impressive would be Jones’ first title defense against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at UFC 135. Arguably the best “Rampage” we’ve seen couldn’t muster any offense and was stopped for the first time inside the Octagon. That would’ve been a resume good enough for anyone to close out a successful year of fighting. Still, Jones wasn’t satisfied and took on Lyoto Machida at UFC 140. Many fans were predicting a strategic battle given the riddle of Machida-style karate but Jones dismissed him, just as he had his other opponents. Jones’ amazing 2011 campaign has brought him full circle to the man he was supposed to face on two occasions prior, former teammate Rashad Evans. At UFC 145 the rivalry will finally come to a head as the two former teammates will settle their differences inside the Octagon. This is the moment where a superstar like Jones can firmly establish himself with an impressive showing. And to be honest, Jones needs it. He’s been asked to carry the load only three times in his career and has performed admirably. UFC 128 and UFC 140 both earned nearly 500,000 buys, while UFC 135 earned slightly more. Now, 500,000 buys may be great for any fighter, but it’s simply not enough for someone of the caliber of Jones. Without Lesnar or GSP, Jones is the face of the UFC now. The build up to this fight has been perfect and it should make UFC 145 the best PPV in recent memory. The UFC has spent hours upon hours not only building up the rivalry, but also Jones himself. It’s good the UFC has invested time into the young star as he has the skills and personality to become one of the top draws in the company. Both the rivalry and the battle to replace the top two UFC stars will finally culminate at UFC 145. Is Jones up to the task of retaining the belt and holding the torch?