Recapping the key stories from Saturday’s event
IN A WORD: WOW
Jon Jones is awesome.
The 24-year-old UFC light heavyweight picked apart Quinton Jackson on Saturday night, never approaching danger while landing with great frequency. Early in the fourth, Jones fluidly finished, taking Jackson’s back and sinking in a deep rear naked choke.
It’s the second consecutive dominant performance against a proven, veteran talent for Jones, coming six months after his destruction of Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
With the ease that he’s running through experienced fighters, it’s easy to see why most pundits believe Jones is at the start of a lengthy title reign.
In sports, we’re always looking to make comparisons between current talents and the greats that preceded them. Mixed martial arts is no different, though Jones makes that effort very difficult.
Who do you compare him to? Who else has come into the sport and risen to the top of their division in three years, dominating every time out, all before their 25th birthday?
There is no way to estimate how good Jones can become. He’s still growing, physically and as a fighter, and with the rapid ascension we’ve seen so far, it’s not an exaggeration to say that he could become one of the best fighters in the history of this sport.
IT’S HARD TO SAY GOODBYE
Matt Hughes doesn’t want to say the word retire. He doesn’t even want to be the one who makes the decision to hang up his gloves.
Following his knockout loss to Josh Koscheck, Hughes said he’s wasn’t retiring, asking instead to be put on a shelf until he can sit down with Dana White and company to discuss his future. Later in the night, White said Saturday was probably the end of the line for the former welterweight champion.
Like always, Randy Couture is an anomaly. When “The Natural” walked away on his own terms earlier in the year without hesitation, he did something many of his contemporaries could not. Chuck Liddell needed to be nudged out of the cage, and it appears Hughes will need the same not-so-subtle push now.
KOSCHECK IN THE BENAVIDEZ ZONE
Joseph Benavidez is one of the very best bantamweights in the world, but because he’s lost twice to divisional champ Dominick Cruz, he’s stuck in a state of limbo. At least he’s got someone to hang out with.
Koscheck is in the same position; a tremendous welterweight who has twice been beaten by Georges St-Pierre. Because of the depth in the division and his track record against the champion, Koscheck will have to accept a high-level gatekeeper position within the welterweight ranks.
He started slow against Hughes, but found his range and rhythm late, connecting on a collection of heavy overhand bombs that finished the Hall of Famer. It was an impressive performance and indicative of what he’s capable of doing to anyone in the division not named St-Pierre.
MAYBE HEAVYWEIGHTS IN DENVER ISN’T A GOOD IDEA
To be fair, no one really expected either of the heavyweight tilts on the UFC 135 main card to make it out of the first round. If they did, the second would surely be the end of the line.
As it turned out, both extended to the full 15 minutes, and it wasn’t pretty. Mark Hunt and Ben Rothwell looked like zombies by the time the third round started, and Travis Browne simply maintained top position over the final five minutes in his decision win over Rob Broughton.
The altitude difference that comes with fighting in Denver impacts everyone. Maybe having two pairs of mammoth heavyweights fighting in the thin air isn’t a good idea moving forward.