Sunday, September 25, 2011

Jon Jones

Jon Jones didn't run through Quinton Jackson like he ran through Brandon Vera and Vladimir Matyushenko and Mauricio Rua. This performance was more measured. He stifled Jackson through the first three rounds before taking him down and calmly working for a rear naked choke in the fourth.

Jones confused Jackson with his reach and distance, the challenger reduced to lunging in for one- and two-punch combinations. Jackson had his moments, his takedown defense looked particularly good considering the ease of Jones to bring down past opposition, but those moments never added up to effective offense.

Whatever questions remained about Jones' abilities -- and, really, only the most ardent Jones hater still questioned Jones' skills in the cage -- dissipated after tonight's performance. He didn't look near as fluid and confident as Anderson Silva -- though Mike Goldberg will try to sell you that narrative, but his demeanor was calm, relaxed, and patient. I won't revert to cliches about looking wise beyond his years, but Jones' fight maturity is more than noticeable when compared to his UFC debut against Andre Gusmao.

It's difficult to imagine Rashad Evans being the man to defeat Jones. As well as he has put together his MMA game, Evans is a small light heavyweight, probably capable of making middleweight if he chose to do so. He'll need to put in a perfect performance -- mixing up strikes, changing levels, getting inside, making Jones react to him instead of the inverse -- to overcome the size, length, and skill of his former stablemate.

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