The light-heavyweight division (186 lbs-205 lbs) in the UFC has long been considered one of the most entertaining divisions in all of Mixed Martial Arts. Many people still consider this weight class to be the premier division in all of the UFC, and for good reason.
The division is comprised of a champion who was thought to be unhittable at times, fighting legends, former UFC champions, talented veterans, and some of the brightest prospects in all of Mixed Martial Arts.
This is the division that carried MMA through the roughest of times, and brings together exciting wars all the time.
On the night of March 21, 2010, one of the most anticipated fights in the near future will take place. We get to see Jon “Bones” Jones take on the talented veteran Brandon “The Truth” Vera. This fight matches up possibly the brightest prospect in all of MMA against a man who once owned that same title.
Many people are counting out Brandon Vera in this fight, and are already considering Jon Jones the next champion of this incredibly tough division. There is no denying the fact that Jon Jones may be the brightest prospect in all of MMA, but let’s not overlook Vera in this fight.
Upon entering the UFC, Jones made a quick splash with his unorthodox striking and wrestling skills. His second fight was considered a true test in the form of “The American Psycho” Stephan Bonnar.
Despite nearly finishing Bonnar in the first round, Jones was unable to finish the tough veteran. It was during this fight that his cardio came into question, as he was visually exhausted during the third round. Despite this, he still cruised to a unanimous decision.
Jones proved that he was not to be taken lightly during this fight, and it was time for Jon to fight tougher competition.
After beating Stephan Bonnar convincingly, Jon Jones decided to start training with Greg Jackson, possibly the best trainer in MMA. We would see how this would pay off in his next fight against another rising prospect in Matt Hamill.
Matt Hamill had been in some big fights, but is still seen as a prospect because he is still in the learning phase of his game. Some predicted that Matt Hamill’s wrestling would neutralize the wrestling attack of Jon Jones. Jones had other plans though, as he tore through Matt Hamill like a hot knife through butter.
The way he destroyed Matt Hamill was beyond amazing. Matt Hamill has been in the octagon with the likes of Rich Franklin and Michael Bisping, yet had never taken a beating the way Jon Jones handled him. If not for an illegal elbow strike, Jon Jones would have easily walked away from this fight as the clear winner.
Matt Hamill dislocated his shoulder, and the beating he took should have been easy to justify a stoppage.
Jones uses his diverse and unpredictable striking skills to set up his wrestling. Ironically, for most fighters, this is backwards. This may also be the reason he stands out above other prospects.
While he remains a difficult puzzle to solve, his unorthodox striking may be the key to beating him. Jones can attack from all angles, but he has never faced an opponent who will not let him set up throws with his striking. In fact, he is facing a man who may have better striking than he does. That man is Brandon Vera.
Brandon Vera started off his career with unlimited potential. He was at one point in the very same boat that Jon Jones sits in now. He was considered to be one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC—someone that could one day own both the Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight belts.
Despite his immediate impact on the sport, Vera took a hiatus from UFC after knocking out Frank Mir, due to a contract dispute. Upon his arrival back to the sport, he took on the man he was to fight before the contract dispute happened, Tim Sylvia.
Despite breaking his hand during the fight, he still fought through the pain, and lost a unanimous decision. After another loss in the Heavyweight division, the UFC decided it would be best for Vera to move down in weight.
In this fight, many people were expecting Vera to dominate an over-matched Reese Andy, but Brandon won a lackluster decision by simply outpointing the IFL import. People were quick to write this off as a result of a tough weight cut, figuring that he would be back to his old form of knocking people out in his next fight.
His next opponent, “The Dean of Mean” Keith Jardine, had other plans. While it is still contested today who actually should have won, the record books show that Jardine was the better fighter on this particular night.
After winning his next two fights, Vera went on to fight Randy Couture. Once again, a controversial decision went against Vera.
In what can easily be the most overlooked match, because of how impressive Jones has looked against recent competition, one should not count out Brandon Vera in this fight.
Despite underwhelming results for a man who has potential to be the most exiting fighter in MMA, Vera is still a dangerous fight for anyone.
While Jon Jones’ striking may prove to be a problem for most fighters in the division, Brandon Vera is not in that group. Vera possesses a real threat on his feet, as he can pick apart just about anyone in the division with his superior Muay Thai skills.
Vera has the technique to slow down Jones and make this fight go into the later rounds, where Jones has shown he can get tired. If Jones gets tired, look for Vera to make a huge statement in the last round.
If anyone looks to the wrestling edge Jones should have in this fight, let’s not forget that Vera is also trained in the same discipline of wrestling that Jones has. Remember this; Vera was able to take Randy Couture down, while Couture was unable to do any real damage to Vera.
Now while many people discredit the work of Randy Couture, do remember this is the same man who gave Brock Lesnar a run for his money until he got caught.
Despite the fact that Jon Jones has shown that he does possess submission abilities, Vera has been in the fight game much longer. His training with Lloyd Irvin should not be overlooked, as Vera is very dangerous from the ground, and he did submit Assuerio Silva (BJJ Black belt). I give “The Truth” the advantage in the submission department.
This fight is a real test for Jon Jones, and will let us know exactly where he stands in the Light Heavyweight division. While Brandon Vera may not have the same killer instinct that you find in the younger and faster Jones, he has the technique to make this a very difficult match.
I find myself counting down days until this one goes down, because I can’t wait! This should be an electrifying fight between two evenly matched opponents. No matter who wins in the cage, the fans are the real winners in this fight.
As far as my predictions go, I'll make those later in the week.