UFC 126 Prediction: Will Jon Jones Finally Get the Respect He Deserves?

Brandon HinchmanCorrespondent IFebruary 1, 2011


"But Ryan Bader is undefeated. Jones has one loss on his record!"

"Jones is too young and hasn't experienced a contender tough enough to challenge him. He's all hype."

"Bones is flashy, but he still has to prove himself."

These are the common arguments you might hear from MMA fans that dismiss Jon "Bones" Jones and claim he will meet his end at the hands of Ryan Bader this weekend at UFC 126.

So I offer a proposition.....

If Jones beats Bader in impressive fashion at UFC 126, as I am predicting he will, the debate should be over, and Jones should not only be considered a strong top ten light heavyweight, he should be considered a legitimate threat for the title.

Can Jones' doubters commit to this? Let's say Jones finishes Bader, be it the first, second or third round...Will Jones' doubters finally admit this guy is real, like they claimed they would before his fight with the wrestling veteran Vladimir Matyushenko—you know, the one Jones pummeled into submission in round one?

How about Brandon Vera, who was anticipated by many to be the one to stop Jones' wrestling and knock him out? You know, the guy Jones TKO'd in round one?

What else must Jones do to prove to the world that he is not only the real deal, but that his only loss, being to Matt Hamill, was just another poorly refereed fight that was stopped way too late, thus robbing Jones of his perfect win streak? How many more opponents must Jones stop before he is given the recognition he deserves?

Truthfully, this could very well be a close fight. Bader has finished 66% of his victories. Jones has finished 75% of his victories, 83% if you count Hamill (and in judging talent and skill, you ought to).

Both men are wrestlers, and both are, practically speaking, undefeated. What I mean by that is that nobody has yet figured out how to beat either fighter, or at least nobody has been successful.

One major distinction, though, comes in with their respective fights against MMA veterans.

While Bader skimmed by with a decision victory after noticeably gasping for air, Jones actually finished his veteran, and in the very first round, and by out-wrestling the fighter whose specialty was...well...wrestling.

While Bader is no slouch, he will no doubt have the toughest task of his fight career ahead of him at UFC 126.

Jones is hungry, he's learned, and his youth plays to his advantage in that it seems to further fuel his often superior strength and skill. If Jones surpasses "Darth," will the doubters finally admit that the kid has some verified, validated skill against some tough opponents?