After another convincing win over another respected opponent at UFC 136 we take a look at what we learned about light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones and what still remains to be discovered.
What We Learned:
1. Even Experienced Opponents Are Now Intimidated By Him
As Jones reputation and mystique continues to grow it’s now getting to the stage where he even very experienced and decorated fighters are becoming intimidated by him.
After the fight former champion ‘Rampage’ admitted that he “choked” during the fight and was simply “mesmerized” by the young fighters skills. It certainly looked that way from the outside, with Rampage appearing very hesitant and unsure what to do – remarkable for a fighter who’s fought a who’s who of elite 205lb competition over the course of his career.
We’ve seen this before though – Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua, another equally experienced and talented fighter also looked completely bewildered in his fight with Jones.
Despite the fact that he’s just 24 years-old we’re already getting to the stage where Jones is having the ‘Anderson Silva effect’ on his weight class where he appears to have fighters beaten before he event steps into the cage with them.
2. His Wrestling And Takedowns Are Not Unstoppable
While Jones managed to stroll through this fight and was never in any danger it’s important to note than not everything went his way.
Several times during the fight Jones attempted to either work for a takedown or one of his patented clinch throws, but ‘Rampage’ did a good job of defending those attempts for the most part. According to FightMetric ‘Bones’ was successful with just two of his six takedown attempts.
That offers a chink of light to the other fighters in the division who may have figured that after Jones manhandled other quality wrestlers like Matt Hamill, Vladimir Matyushenko and Ryan Bader, that he was an unstoppable force.
3. He’s Continuing To Evolve At A Rapid Rate
It was evident last night that Jones is continuing to progress rapidly. The sheer variety of well executed kicks alone that he produced during the fight was very impressive and for the most part he used them all effectively.
Jones was already a gifted fighter back in his first ever UFC fight in August of 2008, but he’s so much more polished, dangerous and versatile now.
There’s been talk that Rashad Evans may have gotten the better of Jones in the past when they were training partners (something Jones strongly denied last night), but he’s evolving at such a rapid rate that even if that was true by the time they fight sometime next year it’ll be like facing a completely different fighter.
4. His Submission Game Has To Be Respected
A lot has been written about Jones stellar striking and wrestling, but last night we also got to see more evidence of his developing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu technique.
Having already tapped out both Jake O’Brien and Ryan Bader his rear-naked choke submission of Rampage served notice that it’s not only his ground and pound that fighters have to be concerned about on the ground.
Perhaps the most impressive moment in this fight however was when he suddenly leapt up and pulled Rampage into his guard and immediately worked for a triangle choke. It was a typically creative and unexpected move on his part and shows that he’s working hard to become a complete fighter.
5. Superfight With Anderson Silva Not On The Cards / Move To Heavyweight Could Happen In The Future
In the aftermath of the event Dana White appeared to dismiss the idea of a potential ‘superfight’ with Anderson Silva for the time being, insisting that there’s still a number of challenges for Jones at 205lbs including Rashad Evans and following that the winner of ‘Shogun’ Rua Vs Dan Henderson.
White did however also mention that if Jones did go on to clean out the light-heavyweight division in the future then they have already discussed with him the possibility of moving up to heavyweight.
What’s Still To Be Discovered:
1. Can He Take A Punch?
Unfortunately, despite facing two deadly strikers in a row in Rampage and Shogun we’re still no closer to discovering whether Jones has a solid chin or not.
In many respects that’s a good thing for Jones as it means he’s defending correctly and is preserving his chin which should stand him in good stead in the longer term.
Until we do see him take a solid shot and observe how he deals with it then it’s going to be difficult to say for sure whether Jones can go on the same kind of unbeaten run as his 185lb counterpart Anderson Silva.
2. What’s He Like Off His Back?
This is perhaps the biggest question remaining in terms of Jones skill-set. Does he have good submission defense? Is he active with submission attempts of his own? Is he capable of getting back up on his feet if he is put on his back?
At the moment we simply don’t know. Rashad Evans claimed that he was able to get Jones down in training and hold him there, but nobody has even came close to doing so in the Octagon.
I fully expect the former champion to attempt to take the fight there when they fight next year however so we may not have to wait to much longer for answers.
3. What’s he like under pressure?
To some extent this ties in with the fear factor we mentioned earlier in the article.
So far no-one has really attempted to try and get Jones on the back foot and put him under any kind of real sustained pressure.
If fighter’s continue to stand off and give him time and space to work his ever-growing striking arsenal from range then it’s hard to see anyone getting the better of him.