Posts Tagged ‘Jon Jones’

Is Jon Jones the world’s top pound-for-pound fighter?

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

By Matt Larkin

Guest Writer

That may have been Jon Jones’ most impressive showing in the Octagon yet. This is a recording.

“Bones,” the UFC’s light heavyweight champ, was proven human for a few brief moments by challenger and Karate master Lyoto Machida last Saturday at UFC 140 in Toronto. To me, that made Jones’ performance even more staggering. He took a hard shot or two, realized he was in a fight, adjusted and proceeded to embarrass one of the world’s best fighters. He needed a single elbow to turn The Dragon’s forehead into a bloody mess. The image of him dropping the unconscious Machida to the canvas after a standing guillotine choke will be replayed for years.

After the victory, buzz among MMA pundits suggested Jones deserved to vault Georges St-Pierre in the world pound-for-pound rankings. To me, that isn’t even an interesting topic to debate anymore. GSP has fought four times in the last 36 months, winning only by decision. Jones has annihilated four opponents in the last 10 months. Three of Jones’ conquests – Machida, Shogun Rua and Rampage Jackson – have been UFC champions before. None of St-Pierre’s last four opponents has.

To me, Jones is clearly the No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter on Earth. The more interesting question is where he ranks relative to Anderson Silva. “The Spider” deserves the unofficial title of greatest mixed martial artist of all time, but comparing his last four fights to Jones’ last four makes the waters murky. Silva was lackluster against Demian Maia and was 110 seconds away from losing to Chael Sonnen.

Then again, Silva humiliated his last two opponents, Vitor Belfort and Yushin Okami, using his Muay Thai. He’s also won 15 straight fights. If you count Jones “loss” to Matt Hamill, he’s actually walked through 16 straight opponents, but Silva still has the more impressive overall body of work.

The Spider still probably deserves No. 1 status – but we’re bordering on a 1A/1B situation here.

Has Jon Jones passed Georges St-Pierre in the pound-for-pound debate?

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

By Matt Larkin

Guest Writer

Another high-profile fight, another easy-breezy win for Jon “Bones” Jones.

Last weekend, the UFC’s light heavyweight champion and youngest belt holder in the promotion’s history battled a legend of the sport, Rampage Jackson, and tossed him aside like nothing.

The fight lasted four rounds but wasn’t remotely close. Jones picked Jackson apart with his ridiculous reach and unpredictability in the striking game, softening him up before choking him out. Rampage barely laid a finger on him. Most other high-profile MMA fighters even believe Jones toyed with Rampage and could’ve finished the fight sooner.

The epic performance called to mind the current world pound-for-pound rankings. Jones is almost a consensus top-four pick, with Cain Velasquez arguably deserving the fifth spot. After Jose Aldo got beat up in his last defense, it’s fair to argue that Jones deserves at least the No. 3 spot. But what about the top two spots?

It’s fair to say that Anderson Silva remains untouchable at No. 1. He’s won 15 straight fights and has never lost in the UFC. But what about Georges St-Pierre?

On paper, the welterweight champion has done little to lose the second rung on the ladder, having won nine consecutive fights. But a look at four pound-for-pound factors shows suggests GSP and Jones may be interchangeable.

1. Longevity

Naturally, GSP still has the edge at this stage. He’s 22-2 for his career and has defended his UFC welterweight title six straight times. Jones’ defense streak sits at one and counting.

Edge: St-Pierre

2. Dominance

A few years ago, GSP would’ve gotten plenty of votes, as his wrestling has made him dominant. But Jones has taken dominance to an even higher level. In 15 pro fights, the kid hasn’t sustained a scratch. No opponent has landed a noteworthy strike, takedown or submission attempt. Jones has utterly owned his rivals with unorthodox, accurate striking, powerful wrestling and evasiveness.

The crazy thing about Jones: as his opponents get tougher, he doesn’t become less dominant. He made legends like Rampage and Shogun look just as bad as his early conquests like Stephan Bonnar and Jake O’Brien. He beat an elite wrestler like Ryan Bader with superior wrestling. He beat an amazing Muay Thai striker in Shogun with superior striking. No fighter in MMA history has ever obliterated the competition like Jones through his first 15 bouts.

Edge: Jones

3. Quality of Opponents

GSP still gets the clear edge here. Jones was coddled to start his UFC career and, after breezing through some vets and young pups, arguably has only three victories that matter (Bader, Rua, Jackson).

GSP, meanwhile, has cleaned out the competition at 170 pounds. He’s beaten two of the greatest fighters of all time, BJ Penn and Matt Hughes, twice each. He’s avenged his only two defeats (Hughes and Matt Serra). He has turned aside everyone thrown his way.

Edge: St-Pierre

4. Intimidation factor

St-Pierre was a much more intimidating fighter a few years ago, when he used his Karate to pummel opponents. But his lack of finishing ability in recent years has been well-documented. Dana White has defended GSP, stating that his opponents have gotten tougher and thus made it tougher for him to put guys away. But tough competition hasn’t stopped Silva from burying opponents and it seems no one can go the distance with Jones anymore.

As Pat Barry explained, Jones has reached “Mike Tyson status.” Fighters are afraid of him and have no idea how to solve him.

Edge: Jones

To me, St-Pierre and Jones are on equal footing as co-No. 2s in the pound-for-pound rankings. The way things are trending, Jones may be alone in the second spot before long.

Are MMA fans ready to accept “The Nice Guy”?

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

By Matt Larkin

Guest Writer

For mixed martial arts and, more specifically, the UFC, 2011 has been very much about ushering in the mainstream. Adding two new weight classes, enveloping the WEC, buying Strikeforce and signing a huge network TV deal with FOX were all major steps toward making MMA a more widely recognized and accepted sport.

With the increased mainstream popularity, in theory, comes more concern over fighters’ images. In other major pro sports, the bad boy isn’t often the superstar, it’s usually the squeaky-clean guy. Cal Ripken, Peyton Manning pre-scandal Tiger Woods, and Sidney Crosby are the types of personalities that rule sponsorship deals and billboards.

We could only expect, then, that the UFC would work to market its own “nice guys.” In Georges St-Pierre and Jon Jones, it has its two flagships. However, I wonder if MMA is an exception to this rule. Are we sure the nice guy is built to be a star in the UFC?

Take The Jimmy Kimmel Show, for example. This week, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and his No. 1 challenger, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, appeared as guests alongside Dr. Phil. Can you guess which fighter drew the audience’s warmth and which one was jeered?

The likeable, good-looking, talented Jones didn’t get the response as he expected. He smiled through his teeth, trying to “take the high road” and answer everything diplomatically. Meanwhile, the street-tough Rampage wasted no time tearing into Jones, insulting him every chance he got and “being real.”

The crowd laughed at everything Rampage said, so much that Jones told the audience “Come on, don’t clap for that.”

Looking at that reaction – not to mention the negative fan backlash against the “safe” St-Pierre over the last year, I wonder if the Nice Guy has a place as an MMA star.

Who are the biggest draws, the most talked about fighters? Chuck Liddell, Former pro wrestling star Brock Lesnar, Nick Diaz. Cocky, taunting Anderson Silva. Mouthy Chael Sonnen.

Maybe we simply must accept that the core of this sport is still combat and a form of violence. It’s possible that nice guys finish last in MMA. There’s something very raw and elemental about fighting and perhaps a polished, eloquent fighter just doesn’t feel right to fans.

The one major contradiction to this theory – and the man who should give us hope about Jon Jones – is Randy Couture. For now, though, Randy is the exception, not the norm.