Come one, come all. Welcome, to the Jon "Bones" Jones bandwagon that is.
Since UFC 126 came to a close a little over a month ago we learned a few things.
1: Anderson "The Spider" Silva defended his Middleweight title for a record eighth straight time with a first round KO of Vitor Belfort.
2: Forrest Griffin is back and looked as crisp as ever in a unanimous decision victory over Rich "Ace" Franklin.
3: Jon Jones is now the undisputed No. 1 contender due to his excellent performance and Submission of the Night victory against the highly touted Ryan Bader.
I'd like to start off by congratulating the very select few who predicted this and/or genuinely thought it was going to happen. A special shout out goes to: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/596503-ufc-126-what-is-next-for-rising-light-heavyweight-star-jon-bones-jones
If you actually took the time to click on the above link you're probably thinking “Hey, you wrote that article.” Yes, indeed I did. I'm not trying to be arrogant or brag or anything; I'm just trying to be a little humorous, show a little background, and shed a little light on where this article is coming from.
The general consensus was about 50/50 as to who people thought was going to win the matchup between Jon Jones and Ryan Bader, never mind Jon Jones winning AND earning himself a title shot. Maybe 25 percent of fans thought that would happen, or that Jones even deserved it. There were a select few, however, myself and apparently Dana White included, who thought that not only would Bones win, but that he deserved a title shot. Without the knowledge of Rashad Evans’ knee injury, which virtually no one was aware of until the conclusion of the Jones-Bader bout, it was difficult to imagine that JBJ would be set to fight just six weeks later, let alone against Maurico "Shogun" Rua for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship.
Regardless of what anyone had previously thought, Jon Jones defeated Ryan Bader via guillotine choke at 4:20 of Round 2. Following the conclusion of the fight, it was announced that current No. 1 contender Rashad Evans was injured and that Jones would replace him.
The Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, only a little over 200 miles from Jon's home town, would be the location of UFC 128 where Shogun would defend his Light Heavyweight gold against newly crowned No. 1 contender Jon "Bones" Jones. With such a dominant performance against a top contender like Bader, and with all of his friends and family in attendance, JBJ is sure to go into the fight with an extreme amount of confidence.
Shogun is coming off of an injury. By the time he and Jones square off in March, it will have been ten months since he last stepped foot inside the Octagon. His last fight, however, was definitely his most impressive performance since joining the UFC. At UFC 113 in Montreal, Canada, Lyoto Machida went to defend his Light Heavyweight title in a rematch against Rua. Shogun won Knock Out of the Night Honors with his first round highlight reel KO of Machida to win the title.
I don’t want to take anything away from Shogun because, personally, I like him. Having said that, his record in the UFC is only 3-2 which isn’t as impressive as people may be led to believe.
Rua lost his UFC debut to fan favorite and future Light Heavyweight champ, Forrest Griffin, before going on to collect consecutive (T)KO victories against former champs Mark Coleman and Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell. These two fights are considered to be good wins for Shogun. But, let’s be honest, those are only “pretty good” wins because both of those fighters were well past their prime. Rua then lost a controversial decision to Machida before winning the aforementioned rematch in devastating fashion.
Who wins at UFC 128?
At just 23 years old, six years the minor of Shogun, Jon Jones has exactly the same record (12-1) as Rua had at 23. Jones however, has looked arguably more dominant then Shogun ever has, even back in his heyday in Pride, and has looked more dominant against tougher competition.
With his lightning fast and unconventional striking going along with his record 84.5 inch reach, his tremendous athleticism, and world-class wrestling skills (Jones' wrestling, in my opinion, is the most underrated in the entire UFC) I believe that Jon Jones has a major advantage going into almost any fight. Not to mention his ability of controlling exactly where and how he wants the fight to go. Once JBJ gets an opponent on the ground, we've yet to see anyone survive, let alone even get up. All this being the case, Jon’s quick rise to fame and potential fortune is extremely well deserved.
Shogun's take down defense is average at best, and Jon's MO is to have fights end up on the canvas and ground-and-pound away. Shogun's specialty is keeping the fight on the feet and standing and banging. Jones, however, has never been out-struck on the feet and in fact has significantly out-struck all of his opponents.
When JBJ and Shogun faceoff on Saturday, March 19th 2011, the odds makers in Vegas have the challenger Jones as a 2-1 favorite. Rua will be coming in with a long injury layoff and little momentum. Conversely, Jonny Bones will already be in great shape from the Bader fight only six weeks prior in which he took little to no damage; he’ll have the entire crowd behind him, and his confidence will be at an all-time high.
After Bruce Buffer announces the challenger and the defending champion and Herb Dean says his classic "Fighter are you ready? Fighter are you ready? Let's do it!" many believe that it will just be a matter of time, no more than 25 minutes, before Jon “Bones” Jones is crowned the new Light Heavyweight Champion of the world.
When this bold, yet seemingly likely, prediction comes true, you can say that you heard it here first. Come March 19th I will be in attendance at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey for the UFC to name its newest champ. Enjoy! I know I will!