Jon Jones: A Star Is Born, One Fan Not Yet Sold on the Hype
Don't get me wrong.
Jon Jones has become a great fighter, and still might eventually become an all-time great, or even the greatest of all time.
That said, his skill-set at the present time doesn't nearly match the hype that currently surrounds the new champion.
Yes, he dominated Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, a legitimate pound-for-pound fighter.
And yes, it wasn't even close.
But the manner in which he did still isn't fully understood.
As impressive as it was, the victory shouldn't be completely unsurprising considering the skills that Jones has, and the kind of fighter Shogun is.
Jones is a dominant top-position grappler, and Shogun has poor takedown defense and has struggled with fighters like Mark Coleman and Forrest Griffin, who were able plant him on his back and force him to spend energy to escape.
What Jones did in the first round was actually a lot like what Griffin and Coleman did to Rua, except that Jones has bigger weapons and better wrestling.
Also, the same conditioning issues that came up in those fights came up again last night after a single round.
The kinds of weapons that Jones showed on the feet were impressive, but much of it wouldn't have been nearly as successful had Shogun not already been battered and beaten on the ground. The openings created by Jones's wild strikes could still be exploited by a striker with better conditioning and straighter punches than Rua.
So while Jones's victory was still extremely impressive, some of that success was a result of a good stylistic matchup and Shogun's lack of fitness which no doubt hasn't been helped by Shogun's almost annual knee injuries and long recoveries.
There are still tough challenges out there for Jones, and tougher stylistic matchups.
Rashad Evans struggled with the reach and kicks of Forrest Griffin, so it seems hard to believe that Evans will find much success on the feet against Jones. That said, Evans is going to be harder to take down than Shogun, has a knockout power in his punches, and could still be a threat if he can be the first fighter to put Jones on his back.
For all of Jones's wrestling ability, Shogun was still able to get behind Jones at one point, so it's not inconceivable that Evans could do the same and better exploit the position.
Quinton Jackson would probably be done if Jones was able to gain top position, but Jackson has good take-down defense and a level of counter-punching that Jones simply hasn't faced thus-far.
Lyoto Machida may have lost to Shogun, but his take-down defense has been nearly perfect in the UFC, and his speed and countering style could still pose problems for a fighter as wild as Jones.
If there is a fighter who could possibly best Jones in the wrestling department, it's Phil Davis, a former national wrestling champion and now a world BJJ blue belt champion in the heavyweight division.
History has already shown that we're almost always too quick to put the next big thing on a pedestal.
Until Jones beats those fighters, he still has much to prove before we even put him in the conversation with all-time greats.
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