Tuesday, March 22, 2011

UFC Eulogy - 128: Shogun v Bones Jones

Well what can I say?I'll just get this out of the way: Bones Jones is a freak.

OK,I'll come back to this point in a second. First I will write the review of the rest of the PPV similar to how I watched. Impatient and anxious about the main event.

It wasn't a terrible PPV. The main event was a spectacle and there was some good action beforehand, but I did find myself a little disengaged with the earlier fights. It may have just been an off day for me - tired, beers, footy on the adjacent screen - but I can barely remember the specifics of the other fights.

Cro Cop v Brendan Schaub was an entertaining fight. He did what he does best. He brought the fight to his opponent and threatened with an all round solid game but he still couldn't do what he used to do best...knock guys outSchaub landed a right hook that seemed to catch Mirko behind the ear and he dropped awkwardly and it was followed by a series of cringe-inducing replays

Marquardt v Dan Miller was a snooze fest. Sucked momentum out of the PPV and in the end Marquardt won but who cares. He is slipping down PPV ladder and might be headlining fight nights in the future.

Jim Miller v Kamal Shalorus was an entertaining fight. I haven't seen these two much if at all and Jim proved he is one to watch. I really can't get over the depth and variety of the Lightweight division. Good luck to whoever runs the ranking system for it.

My first Bantamweight bout. This would be interesting, more so because apart from the more committed MMA fans there will be plenty of UFC fans who don't recognise or buy PPVs based on the new WEC guys. So that means these guys are at a pivotal point of their careers in the octagon and how they market themselves outside of it. Faber came with plenty of hype but struggled through the first round. He did adjust and fought with plenty of flair that the little guys offer and in the end it was a decent decision bout. So I'm gonna stick to the fence before I commit to my maiden favourite Bantamweight.

So now to the big one. I was tipping and hoping for a Shogun victory beforehand but just the visual size difference alone would have been warning enough for most fans, but for me it was the first takedown that filled me with a sense of dread. Jones manhandled Shogun and then imposed himself on top and did some damage while draining Shogun of significant energy - by the first round bell he looked gassed. The stand up was a similar story. Jones' reach nullified anything Shogun could throw at him and on the not so rare occasion when Jones made a mistake, Shogun looked powerless to capitalise. At one point he had his back and dropped down to try take a leg but seemed to slide off weakly. Another was an attempted sweep or reversal that barely made Jones budge. Eventually an exhausted Rua was felled by a piercing body blow and a knee on the way down, tapping the mat as Bones Jones strode away to take in his victory.

So where do we go from here? Every sport has eras of domination; as do the weight divisions within the UFC: Silva, GSP, BJ Penn, Ortiz, Matt Hughes. When someone brings a game that is naturally a cut above the rest. Whether it is natural ability, work ethic, technique, etc. it is usually good enough to require years of training to develop a fighter to overcome it.

But one thing more common than dominant eras is making the call too early. Brock Lesnar wasn't meant to be the man atop the mountain. He was the Mountain. But in his two title defences he was rocked by Carwin and then destroyed by Cain Velasquez. Now people, myself included, are unable to see who could beat Cain but he hasn't made one defence yet either. The Light Heavyweight division for sometime now has been like hot potato with title belt; before Shogun we had Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans, Forrest Griffin, and Rampage Jackson who were all convincing champs. But the cream of this even playing field seemed to have risen to the top with Shogun. A man of ample potential finally exuding it in a demolition of Machida.

But now we have to ask: Who will beat Bones Jones? Is anyone physically capable? Rashad Evans is next up and good luck to him because I love him but a cynical side of me suggested that his statements about moving to the Middleweight division if Jones became champ had less to do with friendship and more to do with inside info on the next big thing. At the moment Bones Jones is a marketing dream but Dana White may be worried of Anderson Silva syndrome where the competition are so far below that the fights are tougher to market. Admittedly he is American and much more aggressive tactically, and the more I think about it the more I want to see Rashad or Rampage or Shogun rematch or Machida or even the lovable Forrest Griffin have a go. It does seem like it will be 5 easy title defences but with UFC you really never know so in the end, after the devastation, I am pretty excited about Jones' next fight.

- Eden

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