The Garden State hosts UFC 128 and the site of the most widely anticipated coronation of the yet to be crowned king, Jon “Bones” Jones.
Jones continues his search and destroy mission throughout the UFC’s light heavyweight division with his next stop Newark, New Jersey. Standing in his way is the heavy handed and always dangerous Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, the current UFC light heavyweight champion. Then of course we have two former WEC champions, the California Kid, Urijah Faber taking on Eddie Wineland in what should be an explosive bantamweight match. Let’s take a look at these as well as an undercard featuring Nate Marquardt and Yoshihiro Akiyama to see if we can earn a share of the purses without taking a punch. All UFC odds are provided by Bodog.
Jon Bones Jones -200
Mauricio Shogun Rua +160
It isn’t often that you see a reigning champion as a 2 to 1 underdog but then again, it isn’t often you see an opponent like Jon Bones Jones (12-1). Rashad “Sugar” Evans was training for a title fight with Shogun (19-4) until he sprained a knee ligament in training camp. After two medical examinations and concurring diagnoses, Evans was out and the rumor was that UFC boss Dana White placed a call to Quinton Rampage Jackson to take his place. It seems the only rampaging Jackson has done lately is through his refrigerator and a four week window to shed all those pounds was too daunting a prospect for the new Haagen-Dazs spokesman. That left perhaps the most logical and deserving opponent, Jon Jones to fill the void.
Shogun was the pride of PRIDE before the UFC ever acquired it. He was a devastating middleweight and simply sledge hammered his way through the division. He had won eight straight fights in PRIDE as a middleweight until he jumped up and fought veteran MMA tough guy Mark Coleman at an open weight class that had disastrous results when he suffered a broken arm within a minute of the first round. Ironically, the name of the card was PRIDE 31: Unbreakable. So much for truth in advertising. Since entering the UFC as a light heavyweight, the journey has not been without its bumps as evidenced by his 2 losses out of only 5 fights but it’s hard to argue with his current destination as he has ascended to the apex of the UFC mountain. Debuting in September of ’07 he was submitted by Forrest Griffin but then got his record healthy by defeating two UFC legends past their expiration date in Mark Coleman and Chuck Liddell. That gave him enough street cred for Dana White to arrange a title match with then champion Lyoto Machida. Rua would lose that match by decision but earned an immediate rematch and 6 months later he avenged the loss with a 1st round KO and the UFC strap around his waist.
Cue the scary music for I am about to wax prosaic on the human wrecking machine that is Jon Bones Jones. My editor at SBR gave me the privilege of writing a preview of the Jones/Bader fight which occurred at UFC 126. As impressive as Bader’s record was, I respectfully concluded that the only way he was going to beat Jones was if he were able to smuggle a high caliber weapon inside his trunks. Even then I could envision a Matrix like Jones limboing away and catching the bullets between his teeth. Can you tell I’m a fan?
Jon Jones works up less of a sweat beating up opponents than I do walking up a flight of stairs. Perhaps that’s more an indictment of my own physical fitness, or lack thereof, than it is a testament to his superb conditioning. Beyond conditioning, it’s virtually impossible to find a flaw in this man’s game. Of his 12 wins only two have been by decision. Seven were by knockout and 3 by submission. The only blemish on his record was a disqualification to wrestler Matt Hamill due to a series of midnight to six elbow strikes when Hamill was just about to become Jones’ next victim. He is 6 foot 4 inches of unbridled fury and his 84.5 inch reach allows him to strike with both impunity and extreme prejudice. If his height and reach don’t impress you then maybe a tornado of elbows and feet will get your attention. He’s as unorthodox a fighter as he is dangerous.
Shogun has the proverbial puncher’s chance but my money says he’s just keeping the throne warm for the new light heavyweight king, Jon Bones Jones. Play Jones -200.
This fight has the UFC handicapping community is split right down the middle, Hothandsmcgee at post #30 was on Shogun, but 2 seconds later in post #31 he can see Jones taking it. Do you think the Elbows have it?