Ten Things We Learned: UFC 128

New champion

1. The Ceiling for Jon Jones is in a House on Mars

You shouldn’t be able to do those kinds of things to a fighter of “Shogun” Rua’s standing when you’re 23 years old and have only been training in the sport for three years. Re-read that sentence again and tell me if you have finally come to grips with the magnitude of what we saw this weekend.

We saw the future start right before our eyes, and it’s only going to get more impressive over the next five years.

There is no way to actually put a ceiling on the talents and potential of Jon Jones, seeing how he’s made everyone he’s ever faced look like rank amateurs. “Shogun” has never been beaten that savagely, nor have any of the other men Jones has decimated on his way to the title.

As Jones continues to grow physically, mentally and as a fighter, he’s only going to keep improving, adding more weapons to his already lethal arsenal and tightening up his techniques and strategies. There really is no way to measure just how successful Jones can become if he maintains the course he’s started.

2. Is It Me or Did It Just Get Really Awkward in Here?

The meeting between Jones and Rashad Evans in the cage was just plain weird.

In the span of the last six weeks, these two went from never fighting each other to Jones realizing that the champ has to fight everyone to cement his legacy and accepting that Evans is included in that group.

That got Evans all salty, leading to a bunch of now-confirmed speculation that he’d leave Greg Jackson’s camp if a fight with Jones was next on his schedule, and when the two were stood opposite each other in the Octagon on Saturday night, the awkwardness boiled over.

Both men were clearly uncomfortable, with a tinge of “whatever man” in their eyes; Evans subsequently told Ariel Helwani that he’s “done with Jackson.”

I understand wanting to get the ball rolling on the next title fight, but giving the heated and emotional situation a chance to mellow a little – and letting Jones bask in the moment of his impressive win – would have been a better decision.

Instead, the UFC pushed forward with this announcement and got a big ball of weird as a result.

3. Slow Down on the Superfight Talks

I believe Jones looks like a dominant force unleashed on the light heavyweight division and see a lengthy title reign beginning, but can we let the kid be champion for 17 seconds before the talk of a superfight with Anderson Silva becomes the central topic of conversation?

Lorenzo Fertitta, I’m blaming you for this one, seeing as it was your tweet that fueled much of the “Bones vs. Spider” speculation and discussion. I get where you’re coming from and think it would be an amazing fight, but there is a whole lot Jones needs to accomplish before meeting the middleweight champ.

For starters, he needs to actually defend the belt.

Two years ago, Lyoto Machida was thought to be unbeatable in the 205-pound division before “Shogun” showed his flaws and finishes him off to capture the belt. I too would make “Bones” the heavy favorite in his eventual meeting with Rashad Evans, but this sport has shown that no one is invincible.

Why not talk about Jones’s impressive win and the fight at hand before deeming the new champion untouchable and setting the fans into a tizzy about a meeting with Silva?

Battered Rua leaves the Octagon

4. Middleweight Might Make More Sense for “Shogun” in the Future

Rua is without question one of the top light heavyweights in the sport today, and a number of compelling and entertaining match-ups remain for him in the 205-pound division, but I can’t shake the thought that dropping to middleweight could bring out the best in “Shogun” moving forward.

The former champion has never been a chiseled specimen; he always has a little bit of dough around his midsection. He’s not particularly tall for the division or a guy who cuts down from an extreme weight to make the 205-pound limit either. As such, it stands to reason that with a shift in diet and direction, Rua could make the middleweight maximum.

If he chose to make the move, Rua would be an instant contender and someone who could legitimately challenge the champion Silva. He’d be an injection of new blood into a division that has felt lifeless for quite some time.

Getting dominated in a title fight like Rua did Saturday night is a very difficult thing to come back from, at least on the marketing side of things. He would need to go out and handily beat three, maybe four, elite light heavyweights before being in title consideration in my opinion. Even then it’s tough to imagine him facing Jones again.

Dropping to middleweight gives him a fresh start, fresh challenges and a fresh avenue of promotion.

5. Rematch with Cruz is Next for Faber

From the moment Urijah Faber announced his intentions to join the bantamweight ranks, a rematch with divisional champion Dominick Cruz was expected. After a pair of solid wins, Dana White has confirmed that “The California Kid” will be the next man to challenge for the 135-pound title.

The leader of Team Alpha Male earned his place in a championship showdown with a solid victory over a very game Eddie Wineland on Saturday night. Faber did a good job of shifting strategies between rounds one and two, using his hands more in the second, setting up his takedowns better and landing some decent blows in the process.

It wasn’t flashy, but it was more than enough to make a rematch with Cruz the next logical step for one of the UFC’s two new divisions.

Though White has frequently denied the rumor, I fully expect this bout to become the central character in Season 14 of The Ultimate Fighter, as an eight-week run on Spike TV would be the perfect vehicle for introducing both champion and challenger to a wider audience. Both guys have great personalities and are surrounded by great teams to help them coach the new recruits, and they really don’t like each other very much.


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