Jon Jones vs. Brock Lesnar: A Head-to-Toe Breakdown
We all thought we were done with Brock Lesnar coming to the UFC. Didn't we? Well, wrestling legend Kurt Angle made an appearance on Ariel Helwani's MMA Show on Monday to open the window just a smidge with a little information about what The Beast wants.
And he wants Jon Jones.
Angle said that Lesnar would come out of retirement for that fight. It is a fight both Lesnar and Jones have teased in the past, and Jones was quick to respond to Angle's statement on Twitter. He said he would "embarrass" Lesnar.
Would he humiliate the former UFC heavyweight champion? That's a question well worth answering, even if the prospect of this fight is bleak.
We will examine the matchup between these two UFC legends. If Lesnar wants the fight, and if Jones is up to the challenge, there is little reason the UFC should hesitate to make it happen. It would be one of the most compelling fights in MMA history. The interest has us all thinking about what would happen.
Jones vs. Lesnar would be amazing. Let's break it down from head to toe.
It is quite clear to anyone who has watched both men compete in MMA that Jones has the advantage on the feet.
Technically speaking, Jones is still not a world-class kickboxer by any stretch of the imagination. But he is an incredible MMA striker. The use of his length through jabs and kicks establishes a range that he controls. Lesnar's brooding, thumping strikes would come up short to Jones' more tactical approach.
But if Lesnar were to land one of those lunch pail-sized fists, it could be a wrap for Jones.
Lesnar's strength and power is ludicrous. And at 81 inches, his reach is just three inches shorter than Jones'. The light heavyweight king typically holds a much longer advantage over his opposition. Lesnar could find an opportunity to wing an overhand and have it connect.
That puncher's chance is slim though, especially against Jones. In a stand-up battle, Lesnar has far too many holes to exploit. Especially to the body. Jones' wide breadth of punches, elbows, knees and kicks would dominate the striking portion of the fight.
Perhaps it's being too kind to Lesnar here and trying to even it out, but luckily there is a little thing called credentials in making this argument.
Jones has phenomenal MMA wrestling. It allowed him to take down an Olympian and former champion in Daniel Cormier. His length gives him deceptive trip takedowns (both inside and outside trips). His underhook game is strong as well.
But Brock has credentials. He is a former NCAA Division I heavyweight champion. Sure it was nearly two decades ago, but it was a level Jones could never reach.
Not only that, but Lesnar's freakish athleticism could allow him to simply maul Jones to the floor. Jones has better movement than, say, Heath Herring. But let Lesnar close distance quickly, and it would be hard for Jones to prevent being steamrolled on to the floor. And Lesnar's strength and athleticism would give him good defense against Jones' best grappling weapons.
If Jones were to score a takedown, the fight might be a wrap. Lesnar likely couldn't handle his top game. But who is more likely to win those exchanges—on paper? Lesnar.
Another no-brainer here. Jones is the better submission stylist.
Lesnar does have a submission to his credit and the sort of obscene strength that would allow him to be a danger if he got ahold of any choke or limb of Jones. But technically speaking, this is far and away a spot where Jones has an edge.
Jones has multiple weapons. Perhaps none is more threatening than a tricky guillotine. His slender arms are able to slip in and grab the choke, and he has more than enough strength to put out his opponent before they can contemplate tapping.
This isn't the strongest aspect of either man's game, but Jones is a legitimate threat with a variety of submissions. Lesnar is just terrifying with what he can do with his brute strength.
Jones' X-Factor: Is He Strong Enough?
This was less of a concern until his two most recent title defenses. Why? Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos were middleweights for most of their UFC run, and they both had success against Jones. Santos specifically, as he nearly upset Jones for the title and hurt him with leg kicks.
Can Jones handle that sort of punishment at heavyweight? He has shown a good chin at 205, but heavyweight is a different ballgame. And Lesnar is one of the strongest of them all.
And what if Lesnar gets him down? Lesnar could grab his wrist, pin it and bludgeon Jones even worse than he did Frank Mir at UFC 100. It is a possibility. Jones could be strong enough to handle any heavyweight, but we don't know that for sure.
He will most definitely need to be sharper in his technique to avoid even testing that theory.
Lesnar's X-Factor: Himself
Lesnar is the biggest X-factor himself. He fought at UFC 200 in 2016 but tested positive and had the win overturned. Before that, he last competed in 2011.
Has he been training during that time—even intermittently? What has he been focusing on if so? Striking? Jiu-jitsu? Or has he just been living life on his ranch and stopping by the WWE occasionally to win and defend his entertainment title?
What about the holes that were exploited by Alistair Overeem and Cain Velasquez? Has he addressed those? Jones' best attribute may be his intelligence. He is one of the smartest fighters inside the cage. He will have studied everything Lesnar does and have a game plan to exploit every tiny weakness. If the Lesnar of 2011 shows up, Jones will be prepared to embarrass him.
But we know nothing of what Lesnar has been doing. And at 42, even if he has been training, there is always the case that Father Time has staked his claim on what he can achieve as a top-tier athlete in a sport such as MMA.
It does not take a giant leap to imagine Brock Lesnar storming across the cage, grabbing Jon Jones like a pencil and snapping him. Lesnar is terrifying, and Jones' frame looks vulnerable against someone like Lesnar.
But in reality, when looking at the technical prowess of each man, it is much more likely Jones would shine against an outmatched opponent.
Lesnar's athleticism masked much of his technical deficiencies during his UFC tenure. Against Jones, those would come to light quickly. Jones doesn't dominate light heavyweight just because of his length and reach. He dominates it because he blends everything together in a way we've never seen before while having the intelligence to make adjustments on the fly.
In the opening five minutes, Jones would analyze what Lesnar's plan of attack is and do his best to stop it. He would attack the body, establish his range and bail out of situations wherein Lesnar can rush him against the cage. Once the horn signals the end of the first, Jones would march to his corner to get the adjustments he needs to make.
And then he would end the fight in the second round.
Jones would go to the body and hurt Lesnar or score an outside trip takedown to assume top position. Either way, Jones is going to be in a position to hammer away until the referee saves Lesnar from a further beating.
Quite simply, Jones is a much better fighter than Lesnar.
Prediction: Jones defeats Lesnar by TKO in the second round.