Brandon Vera vs. Jon Jones: UFC on Versus 1 Preview
Early morning on Dec. 16, 2009, I'm going to guess at around 2:30, sitting alone, I was surfing the Internet with nothing to do. Naturally, when I have nothing to do, there's a great chance you'll find me on Facebook.
Wasn't necessarily tired, but as an insomniac, I knew if I didn't try to get to bed anytime soon, that I would be up for a great while.
Decided to hit that refresh button one last time to see if there would be anything worth observing among the monotonous status updates, as if I care about saving a lost sheep or executing a mob boss.
That's a raving rant for another time though.
Skim-reading through the junk mail-type posts, I noticed an update from UFC light-heavyweight fighter, Brandon Vera. In that post was a word that made my eyes light up like the Griswald family home on Christmas, the keyword of Denver.
"just found out I'm (fighting) Jon Bones Jones on March 21st in Denver Colorado," said Vera. "hope u heard it here first!!!!"
As the days went by, the details cleared up. Jon "Bones" Jones and Brandon "The Truth" Vera were set to headline UFC's first venture on to the Versus Network in Broomfield, Colorado.
Broomfield, a northern district of Denver near the city of Boulder, will be getting their fifth taste of MMA's most prominent organization. Last time out was the UFC Fight Night 13 which was headlined by Kenny Florian and Joe Lauzon on April 2, 2008.
Before that, the UFC's last visit to Colorado came in 1995 during the days of the no-holds barred rules. Since the UFC visits to Colorado have been few and far inbetween, Coloradans always come prepared to unleash the full resonance of their voice box.
UFC president, Dana White, as well as his well-known matchmaker, Joe Silva, have done an excellent job in putting together a phenomenal card for the high-altitude fans in Colorado.
With the exception of a few, a majority of the night's fights are evenly matched. There are a number of interesting stylistic match ups that could render either fighter victorious. This couldn't be further from the truth in the nights main event between Jones and Vera.
Can Jones handle the toughest test of his career?
Can Vera recover from his gate-keeping status?
The final instalment of the UFC On Versus 1 Preview series will break down who holds what advantages in the main event.
Vera emerged as a threat in the MMA world by winning a four-man heavyweight tournament at WEC 13. Dana White saw the potential in the kid and quickly signed him up to compete with the UFC.
"The Truth" ran right through the competition that was placed before him, and quickly began calling out the premier fighters at the time, such as Chuck Liddell. He actually claimed that he would be the first man to hold titles of two separate divisions at the same time.
If that isn't bravado, then what is?
He was quickly shot back down to earth after suffering two straight losses to Tim Sylvia and Fabricio Werdum. This prompted Vera to make the drop down to 205, where he wouldn't be fighting behemoth fighters in every fight.
Since then, his career has gone up and down in a not-so-impressive fashion. However, he's seen the highs and lows of the sport. Jones has seen enough lows to help him improve his game, but the rough UFC ride for Vera gives him the edge in experience.
Jones is in a territory that's all to familiar with Vera, which is riding an unbelievable wave of hype that only gains momentum with each performance.
The difference between the two at the peak of their hype is that Vera kept the mind frame of "if it isn't broke, don't fix it."
Jones on the other hand knows that there are plenty of holes in his game, and he made a huge move from his gym of Bomb Squad in New York to Jackson's MMA in New Mexico, as well as the Tri Star Gym in Montreal.
While Vera recieves excellent training with Lloyd Irvin, as well as the Alliance MMA gym in Southern California, he is at a disadvantage in terms of training camp.
Jones trains with some of the best trainers to date in Firas Zihabi and Greg Jackson. Not to forget that he gets to work with some of the greatest fighters in the MMA world.
Since joining Jackson's MMA, Jones' already diverse striking has been shored up. He has added a plethora of combinations to his arsenal, as well as cleaning up the awkward moves that the fans have grown to love.
It's a good thing for Jones too, because if he overextends, Vera can make him pay with a heavy counter kick.
As everybody knows, Vera holds some of the most damaging kicks inside the division. One of the few that can swing his whole body into the kick, Vera often makes his opponents very tentative once that thud echos through the arena.
His combinations are also a little bit cleaner than Jones, well, at least comparing both fighters off of their last performance. Once again, that's why Jones made the training camp move to Tri Star and Jackson's MMA, to clean up his attack.
Despite having a cleaner attack, Vera still holds no distinct advantage in striking. As said many times before, you can't teach the reach. Unfortunately for Vera, "Bones" has an 84.5-inch reach, nearly nine inches over Vera, and he knows how to use it too.
Both fighters are quick on the feet, and are able to move in and out from various angles. Each are more skilled in certain areas, so striking comes to a draw. It's just a matter of who connects first.
However, if these two should clinch up, Vera does hold the advantage on the feet... in striking, that is.
His muay thai is what made Vera a popular star during his early UFC days. His hips are very loose, enabling him to throw more power into his knees and kicks. If he gets a plum clinch on Jones, the night could be over very quickly.
So Vera does hold the advantage in clinch striking, but he'll probably be too worried about the amazing judo throws and greco-roman wrestling that Jones possesses.
Although Vera is quite skilled with greco-roman wrestling and has a very effective sprawl himself, Jones has been tossing around his foes with relative ease. Most recently against Matt Hamill, who was suppose to be the biggest test against Jones' throws.
We all know what happened there as Jones made everybody look like a fool, rag-dolling Hamill as if he were a lightweight.
Both are great wrestlers, but Jones holds the advantage as he is more explosive in his takedowns. However, Jones needs to be patient should he take the fight down as Vera's jiu jitsu is severely underrated.
He has battled his fair share of jiu jitsu practioners, many of them being black belts at the time. Vera has shown great submission defense and has never been submitted in his career.
No one really gets to see his jiu jitsu because of his love for the striking. However, if he finds himself in a precarious position, Vera has the skills to tap out Jones if "Bones" gets over-anxious.
Training with some of the greatest minds of MMA will likely mean that Jones won't make a giant mistake in this fight. "Bones" knows when he should strike on the ground and when he should maintain positioning, things won't be any different in this fight.
It is in this writer's opinion that if either fighter winds up on their back, it won't be because of a takedown, rather from a big shot on the feet.
In Jones' young career, he has yet to be caught in a hazardous situation such as this, so it's hard to predict what his composure is like.
Vera has been stuck in bad positions, against much larger fighters at that. He has the composure to survive these situations, which should help if he gets clipped by the lanky Jones.
If this happens, which many believe that it will, Jones has the speed and conditioning to make Vera suffer.
Broomfield, Colo., will erupt as the UFC's greatest prospect, Jonny "Bones" Jones puts Brandon "The Truth" Vera to sleep with a barrage of punches.
Training camp: Jones
Range striking: Draw
Clinch striking: Vera
Takedown defense: Draw
Submission defense: Vera
Ground striking: Jones
UFC On Versus 1 Official Picks
Jones over Vera
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