Jon Jones (top) (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)History Lessons: Battle Cage Xtreme IV and the Rise of Jon Jones The MMA Corner Staff April 26, 2014 Spotlight Every fighter in the UFC, whether champion, legend or debutant, has to start somewhere. That somewhere usually isn’t the big show. Occasionally, multiple future stars end up gathered on a single regional card. At the time, this card may not seem significant, but years down the road, we can look back in hindsight and marvel at how stacked that event turned out to be. That’s exactly what we’ll do in this series, called History Lessons. So, let’s jump in the time machine and travel back. The date was April 19, 2008, and the location was the Tropicana Showroom in Atlantic City, N.J. It was time for Battle Cage Xtreme IV. It may seem like Jon “Bones” Jones, the 26-year-old reigning UFC light heavyweight champion, has grown up with the promotion he now calls home. After all, he made his Octagon debut at the age of 21, became the youngest UFC champion in history when he claimed the belt at age 23 and now has 14 UFC outings under his belt. However, between his pro debut in April 2008 and his UFC debut in August of the same year, Jones tallied six wins on the regional circuit, including four within a single month. The first of those victories came at Full Force Untamed XX, where he tossed the out-of-shape Brad Bernard around like a ragdoll before scoring a quick TKO win. It was in his sophomore outing, just seven days later, when Jones was faced with his first true test. That test came in the form of Dragon Fight and Nova Uniao fighter Carlos Eduardo, who was 26 years old at the time. “Cachorrao” was 2-1 when he entered the cage with Jones, but the lone loss on his record had come via disqualification, due to an illegal kick, in a fight under the Extreme Challenge banner. The Brazilian already had one victory by way of TKO and one via submission. Eduardo attempted to stifle Jones’ striking attack with his wrestling game, and he succeeded for a large part of the opening three-minute stanza. In the closing minute of the round, Jones was able to pound on a downed Eduardo. Jones found more success in round two after stuffing a takedown attempt and gaining top position. In round three, the phenom put an exclamation mark on the proceedings when he landed a right hand that sent Eduardo crashing to the mat. At the time, the fight could be viewed as nothing more than a pair of inexperienced prospects engaging in battle. Now, in hindsight, it can stand as a strong indicator of what would lay ahead for Jones. Eduardo rebounded with a nine-fight winning streak that culminated in three victories under the Shooto Brazil banner and a trip to Bellator, where he finished Wayman Carter via submission in October 2013. The Brazilian returned to the Bellator cage just two weeks ago with less fortunate results. His streak was brought to an end by UFC veteran Rodney Wallace, who outworked Eduardo to claim a unanimous decision. Jones, despite just two pro fights in an eight-day span, was already well on his way to a bright future under the bright spotlights of the UFC. He waited only six days before returning to action once more, this time with a 75-second submission finish of Anthony Pina. Two weeks later, the victim was Ryan Verrett. A little over a month later, it was Parker Porter, and the next month it was Moyses Gabin. Six fights, five finishes via strikes, one submission and the USKBA light heavyweight championship—it was enough to punch his ticket to the big show. He didn’t disappoint, either. Jones made his Octagon debut with a decision win over Andre Gusmao at UFC 87 and posted three victories before he suffered a disqualification loss against Matt Hamill. Another three wins followed, and then Jones successfully challenged Mauricio “Shogun” Rua for the UFC light heavyweight strap. He’s made six successful defenses since then, and he’ll seek to extend his reign when he fights Glover Teixeira tonight. Jones certainly stands out among the fighters on the 17-fight lineup, but there were other future UFC fighters competing that night and plenty of titles on the line, too. Current UFC welterweight George Sullivan took part in one of the night’s championship tilts. The Pellegrino MMA fighter was 4-1 with one no-contest at the time and was fighting for the USKBA welterweight belt. Standing across the cage from Sullivan was Nick Calandrino, an undefeated three-fight veteran. In just over three minutes, Calandrino forced Sullivan to verbally submit from punches. The win earned Calandrino the title and a trip to the IFL. The party didn’t last long for the budding prospect. His IFL fight came against future UFCer John Howard. Calandrino suffered a TKO loss in that affair, bounced back with a win against a debuting fighter and then suffered a loss to another future UFC fighter, Jon Manley. Just five months after winning the championship, Calandrino’s career came to a close. Sullivan may have lost, but he fared much better in the long run than his counterpart. The New Jersey native went on to long stints under the Ring of Combat and Cage Fury Fighting Championships banners. He amassed 10 wins over his next 11 outings, including victories over Greg Soto and Julian Lane. In January 2014, nearly six years after his loss to Calandrino, Sullivan made his UFC debut at UFC on Fox 10, where he earned a unanimous verdict over fellow prospect Mike Rhodes. UFC bantamweight Ken Stone was also in the lineup that night. Stone, who was then competing as a featherweight, already had three wins on his unblemished record when he met Joey Camacho, a middling 2-2 fighter, at the event. Stone added a fourth win to his resume when he finished Camacho by way of a TKO in under three minutes. Camacho never could get his career headed in the right direction. The AMA Fight Club product went just 3-4 over his next seven fights and has not competed since December 2012. Stone, meanwhile, continued to pile up victory after victory. He added four more wins within the next year to bring his record to a perfect 8-0 before suffering his first loss. He bounced back with a win, then signed with the WEC. He lost his WEC debut to Eddie Wineland, but still made the transition to the UFC. His Octagon debut came a little over three years after his win against Camacho. Stone lost to Scott Jorgensen and now holds a 2-2 mark in UFC competition. His most recent fight took place at UFC 150 in August 2012. He was knocked out in just 17 seconds by Erik Perez. Success at the highest levels is hard to find. BCX IV’s lineup includes a number of other fighters whose names might ring a faint bell with fight fans. There’s Pat Audinwood and Lester Caslow, who vied for the BCX welterweight crown. Audinwood sported a 4-0 record heading into the fight, and Caslow stood at 2-0. Audinwood was able to outwork the Pellegrino MMA fighter en route to a unanimous decision. The Team Bombsquad fighter added four more wins and a draw to bring his record to 9-0-1 before entering the UFC approximately two years after his win over Caslow. Audinwood was quickly ushered out of the promotion by Thiago Tavares and John Makdessi, who handed him the first losses of his career. He found success on the regional circuit with wins over Al Iaquinta and Justin Reiswerg, but Audinwood hasn’t competed since February 2012. Caslow, meanwhile, went on to make stops in Ring of Combat, Cage Fury Fighting Championships and Bellator, but his record now stands at 11-9. He is 2-2 under the Bellator banner. Six-time NCAA wrestling champion and former NFL player Carlton Haselrig made his professional MMA debut at the event. He met IFL veteran Shane Ott in a clash for the USKBA and BCX heavyweight titles. Haselrig finished Ott in just over four minutes by way of TKO. With his wrestling and football background, Haselrig garnered a lot of attention, but he was already 42 years old, so time wasn’t on his side. He joined EliteXC for his next outing, which he won via TKO. He then suffered his first loss in his return to BCX, picked up one more win and then bowed out for good following a first-round TKO loss to future UFC fighter Shawn Jordan. Ott had already seen the best days of his career. The big man had debuted in 2007 and surged out to a 3-0 start that included victories over Chad Griggs and Kerry Schall. It was downhill from there, with losses to Roy Nelson and Antoine Jaoude. He was 3-2 when he met Haselrig, and the loss closed the curtains on his career. A regional card doesn’t always need a long list of future stars to be a significant event in MMA history. Sometimes, all it takes is one. As the host of Jon Jones’ second fight, Battle Cage Xtreme certainly fits the bill.