Unlike ancient philosopher Sun Tzu, who immortalized the notion of attacking an enemy's weakness, Jon Jones and Greg Jackson believe that besting an opponent in his respective area of expertise represents the easiest path to reaching a breaking point.
So when Jones faces arguably his stiffest test inside the Octagon at UFC 182 on January 3, expect the light heavyweight champ and pound-for-pound king to test second-ranked Daniel Cormier's strong suit: wrestling.
During an interview over the weekend with MMAFighting.com's Shaun Al-Shatti, Jones talked about his ability to adapt to his foes' strengths and his plan to go after Cormier's strengths and weaknesses:
I think I focus on it so much, I focus on their strengths so much that I almost adapt it. I become so familiar with what they're good at that I just almost adapt it into my psychology, into my skillset, and then subconsciously it just starts playing out in the fight. Doing what they do.
I will try to wrestle Daniel Cormier. I definitely plan on making him work extremely hard for any takedowns he's going for, and I'm definitely going to be looking for takedowns myself. I'm more than capable of taking him down, and I believe in my top game. So I'll definitely look to attack Daniel at his strengths, and weaknesses.
Jackson, Jones' head trainer and the co-owner of Team Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico, explained why he agrees that Bones should attempt to outwrestle Cormier, a two-time former Olympian in freestyle wrestling who was named Team USA's captain for the 2008 Summer Olympics:
We're definitely going to try to wrestle Daniel, there's no doubt. We're trying to beat him everywhere. The kind of inception of that mentality started actually way back when I was working with Georges (St-Pierre), and he took down (Josh) Koscheck. Sun Tzu always has this thing where he says ‘Always attack your enemies weaknesses.' But that's not true. If you have the ability to attack your opponent's strength, the psychological breaking process is much faster than if you're just attacking his weaknesses.
Since making his debut with Strikeforce in 2009, Cormier has stuffed each of the 11 shots he's faced, including three shots from former two-time NCAA Division I All-American wrestler Patrick Cummins.
Jones denied the first 16 shots he faced in his brilliant UFC tenure before allowing top-ranked Alexander Gustafsson to tally a takedown at UFC 165 in September 2013. Gustafsson, however, finished just one of his eight takedown attempts in that fight.
The unbeaten Cormier has amassed 18 takedowns in his 12 fights since signing with Strikeforce, including three in his last bout against former Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler Dan Henderson.
In his 15 scraps in the UFC, eight of which were light heavyweight title fights, Jones has totaled 30 takedowns.
Cormier (15-0) improved to 4-0 in the UFC after thrashing former Strikeforce and Pride FC champ Henderson at UFC 173 in May. Cormier has piled up a 12-0 record under the Zuffa banner.
Jones (20-1) holds a 14-1 UFC record, with his lone loss coming via disqualification against Matt Hamill in December 2009.