Jon Jones Needs a Real Challenge
I told you last week that Jones is not a prospect; that he is a legitimate contender in the 205-pound division and Sunday in San Diego, he exceeded even my expectations against Vladimir Matyushenko.
The UFC’s decision to bring “Bones” along slowly made sense until last night. The speed and ease with which he disposed of Matyushenko showed that the training wheels need to come off and the 23-year-old phenom needs to face someone who will truly test the limits of his talents.
As he said in the post-fight press conference, he’s passed every test with flying colors, and his last three outings have been jaw-dropping exhibitions of total domination. It’s time for the kid gloves to come off when it comes to finding fights for this kid.
Everyone agrees that Jon Jones has a championship future and he’s one of the brightest young stars in this sport. It might actually be more than that.
We’re witnessing something special in watching Jones grow and develop inside the cage. This is a fighter who right now doesn’t have a ceiling; the sky seriously is the limit for his talents, especially under the guidance of Greg Jackson and in the company of the collection of professional who train with him in Albuquerque.
Each performance exceeds expectations, a difficult task considering the height of the bar being set for Jones. Matyushenko was supposed to be a grizzled veteran with the wrestling chops to slow the budding superstar’s explosive offense.
Instead, he too was manhandled like Matt Hamill and Brandon Vera before him, laid to waste in less than two minutes by a fighter who has the markings of becoming more than a champion.
Yep – I just used the title of a Garth Brooks song in a mixed martial arts recap column. Thank you, Yushin “Thunder” Okami.
Nothing much has changed about Okami’s approach in the cage over the last handful of years, but my appreciation of what he does inside the Octagon has done a complete 180. Watching Okami repeatedly stuff the takedown attempts of former Division-I national champion Mark Munoz was as entertaining as watching an unabashed slugfest for me.
All Okami did was exactly what he’s done throughout most of his UFC career – step into the cage and dominate his opponent, fighting the better technical fight and never carelessly trading sound strategy for audience excitement. Jab and sprawl, jab and sprawl, with a few straight lefts mixed in for good measure.
Now we wait and see if the Japanese middleweight will finally receive the title shot some believe is long overdue.
Guess Which Judge Scored the Fight for Munoz?
Everyone makes mistakes; that much has been determined throughout the course of history. We all have our “I screwed up” moments. The problem – as I see it – is when the same person keeps making the same mistakes. Don’t even get me started on the people who keep giving them the opportunities…
The fact that it comes as no surprise that the judge who scored Sunday’s co-main event in favor of Mark Munoz was Cecil Peoples is frightening. Judge Peoples, he of the “leg kicks can’t win fights” commentary who more recently would have had Kamal Shalorus beating Jamie Varner at WEC 49 in Edmonton if not for a point deduction, somehow saw Munoz as the victor in his fight with Yushin Okami.
One curious card happens, but every time this man sits cageside it is becoming a liability and risk. Honestly, did anyone have that fight going to Munoz? Is there some “Cecil Peoples Only” scoring system that we don’t know about?
More importantly, is there really so few qualified judges out there that we can keep giving this guy prime seats so he can keep getting it wrong? I know the admonition is to not let a fight go to the judges, but it shouldn’t be because the judges just might get it completely wrong. With Cecil Peoples sitting there, that is the risk you run and that is brutal.
Ellenberger a Welterweight Dark Horse
Through three fights in the UFC, Jake Ellenberger has been extremely impressive.
He came out on the short end of a split decision against Carlos Condit in his debut, and then manhandled Mike Pyle in his second trip inside the Octagon. John Howard was supposed to be a challenge, a power-punching coming in on a four-fight winning streak, but Ellenberger steamrolled him with strong takedowns and top control.
Ellenberger asked for a Top 10 opponent after the fight, and has the talents to be a contender in the 170-pound division. He’s like a Jon Fitch clone that has shown his punching power. Last time I checked, the AKA product was the second-best welterweight in the world.
The 23-5 Nebraska native has looked good thus far. Now it’s up to Joe Silva and Dana White to give the kid what he’s asking for and see what they really have in Ellenberger.