On the latest episode of the The Ultimate Fighter 10, Marcus ‘The Darkness’ Jones impressed by showing surprising agility for his 6ft 6′, 260lb frame as he quickly locked in an armbar submission on his opponent, Mike Wessel.
He is certainly becoming a popular figure on the show thanks to his ‘gentle giant’ persona, but beyond that, how good of a fighter is Marcus Jones? In this article we will look at his professional MMA career to date to see if TUF has unearthed a new heavyweight prospect.
Originally an american football player with a 6 year stint with the Tampa Bay Bucaneers as a defensive end, Marcus Jones has entered into the sport of mixed martial arts relatively late in his career.
His first professional fight came at the age of 34 against Will Mora, another inexperienced heavyweight who currently holds a record of 2-3.
Thrust into the main event of the evening on his competitive debut, Jones would display his developing ground game (he is now a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) by securing a kimura submission to claim victory just one minute into the fight.
In his next fight, just two weeks later, Jones would face another up and coming fighter, Eduardo Boza. Boza was 1-0 at the time, though has since improved to 3-1.
Luckily someone in the audience recorded the fight so feel free to watch it below before we continue…
The inexperience of both fighters is certainly on show here, it’s not a pretty fight to watch.
It’s clear that at this stage in his career that Jones’ boxing needed considerable work. He makes some basic errors such as keeping his hands too low, sticking his chin out, and failing to plant his feet. Despite lacking technical striking what he does demonstrate is raw power and on this occasion that was enough to earn him a TKO victory.
After a 3 month break Jones returned to the WFC organization, and despite his two quick victories he would be facing another relative newcomer – Daniel Perez. At the time Perez was 1-0, but like Boza he was went on to bolster his record to 3-1 since then.
Like Marcus Jones’s previous fights, this one wouldn’t make it past the first round. Again amateur footage exists, though in this case it only shows the action towards the end of the fight.
It’s not the best view of the action but it’s clear the Jones pays the price for leaving his chin unprotected this time round, and is momentarily stunned. It’s all downhill from there as he retreats straight back to the cage and is quickly overcome by further strikes.
Though the video is brief, it again highlights the obvious weaknesses in his stand-up game, his inexperience and perhaps the first signs of a less than stellar chin.
Going back to the drawing board it would be some 10 months later before Jones would step into the cage again, this time to face Mike Ottman, who was at the time 1-2. By the end of the evening he would be 1-3 as Jones claimed another TKO victory due to punches after just 84 seconds.
Having got back to winning ways, Jones was back in action two months later in February of this year, to face a fighter making his MMA debut, John Juarez.
Of course it was always destined to finish early, and 99 seconds after the bell rang to start the contest, the referee called a halt to the proceedings as Jones overcame his opponent by way of strikes to claim another TKO victory.
Less than three months later Jones would become a part of The Ultimate Fighter Season 10 cast, and as we saw in the most recent episode he made a winning start on the show, reverting back to the submission skills that he had demonstrated in his debut fight.
As in his previous fights the bout ended very quickly making it difficult to assess his overall skills, but he certainly showed that he’s a capable fighter on the ground and transitioned well to earn the submission. It should also be noted that Mike Wessel, with a record of 6-1 (including a fight at UFC 92) is the most experienced opponent he has faced yet.
So what have we learned about the fighter from his fights?
His size and punching power are certainly noteworthy attributes. Whats perhaps most interesting though is his BJJ, and the speed and agility he displayed on the ground in his last fight. Those are relatively rare commodities for a heavyweight, particularly one who weighs in close to the 265lb limit for the division.
That bodes well for the fighter in the rest of this season of TUF, though on the down side there are still major question marks over his stand-up skills and the quality of his chin.
Another disadvantage is that at 36 years of age he also doesn’t have unlimited time to fix the holes in his game and continue to develop his strengths, though he does appear to be eager to learn which can only be a good thing.
Can he become The Ultimate Fighter Season 10 champion? The fighters on this season have so far failed to impress so he certainly has a good chance, particularly if he fights smart and uses his ground skills to his advantage.
Can he be a force to be reckoned with in the UFC’s heavyweight division after the show is finished? It’s perhaps unfair to judge on the strength of what we’ve seen this far, but there’s no real evidence to suggest he’s a major threat in the division at this stage, particularly when you consider the level of competition he’s faced.
It will however be interesting to see how he fares on TUF in the coming weeks, and he will get a chance in the UFC, particularly since he’s become a popular character on the reality show that viewers have quickly warmed to. I don’t think the divisions top contenders will be quaking in their boots at the prospect just yet though.