Tag Archives: Jon Jones

UFC 128 Preview

Fresh on the heels of acquiring rival promotion Strikeforce, the UFC surges onward toward the mission of becoming the end-all, be-all for professional mixed martial arts. The card for UFC 128 shouldn’t slow momentum one bit.

Here’s GASB’s analysis and picks for the main card, available on Pay Per View.

• Heavyweight bout (206-265 lbs): Mirko Cro Cop v. Brendan Schaub

Zuffa likes to start PPV events with extremely interesting match-ups and potentially explosive fights. Cro Cop v. Schaub fits that formula to a tee.

Cro Cop is a perennial favorite amongst veteran fight fans. His stunning KO’s and TKO’s in Pride won the hearts of hardcore MMA junkies the world over. We’re speaking of a man who knocked out Wanderlei Silva with a headkick of legend in both combatant’s prime.

NOT SURE WHO IS PROTECTING WHO HERE

Unfortunately, and as with many Pride stars that tried to integrate into UFC since, the results since Pride’s demise have been mixed at best.

One of the most shocking moments in MMA history occurred when Gabriel Gonzaga landed a flush headkick knockout (Cro Crop’s own signature move) in the first round of Cro Cop’s second UFC fight.  That was followed by  a loss to Cheick Congo, a handful of TKO’s over the division’s lower-tiered talent, and two losses at the hands of the heavyweight elite (Junior dos Santos, Frank Mir).

Brendan Schaub is very much from the newer school of MMA, in picking up the sport well after its mainstream breakthrough and acceptance. He came into the sport after a failed run at the NFL (peaking at a practice squad spot on the Buffalo Bills) and came into the UFC via a reality show.

THIS IS MY BLOG, SO I AM INSERTING A PICTURE OF JIM KELLY

The fact of the matter is that while he’s only been in the sport for just over three years, his overall athleticism has allowed him to excel and experience some early success.

The ceiling is still high, and his next run of fights will determine how far he will go.

GASB favors: Brendan Schaub, likely by unanimous decision. Obviously Cro Cop has one-kick, one-punch knockout potential and the fight could go the other way in the blink of an eye, but expect Schaub to employ a similar gameplan to his last fight (coincidentally a decision victory over Gonzaga).

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• Middleweight bout (185 lbs): Nate Marquardt v. Dan Miller

Here we have yet another fight wherein the fighters are essentially a mixed bag of inconsistent wins and losses against the broad talent spectrum that is the UFC’s middleweight division.

Accordingly, it should produce an almost equally unpredictable result.

Nate Marquardt comes in with extremely impressive striking-based stoppages versus Martin Kampmann and then a Brazilian hat trick comprised of Wilson Gouveia, Demian Maia, and Rousimar Palhares. But he’s also gotten snagged in decision losses to Chael Sonnen and Yushin Okami, effectively thwarting his second run at Anderson Silva’s title belt.

Dan Miller was absolutely on fire until he hit a three-tiered brick wall of some of the middleweight division’s best in Chael Sonnen, Demian Maia, and Michael Bisping.

In literally a year and six days, he went from being one of the hottest prospects in the division to, at best, the jury still being out. Since that string of losses, he sunk a nice guillotine in on Joe Salter at UFC 118 and fought well enough to split the vote in his favor over Joe Doerksen at 124. It’s difficult to know what kind of fighter we can expect to see when Miller enters the cage this weekend.

GASB favors: Nate Marquardt, like by a strike stoppage. It’s been a frustrating couple of years for both men and Marquardt will be blowing off steam at Miller’s expense.

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• Lightweight bout (155 lbs): Jim Miller v. Kamal Shalorus

GASB absolutely loves this matchup and is arguably more excited about this fight than the main event — which is to say quite a lot.

Jim Miller (yes, the younger brother of Dan) has a had a fantastic MMA career and comes in with what GASB would consider a far more sound background amongst the “modern” crop of fighters 29 and under. Whereas a fighter like Brandan Schaub burst onto the scene after a very short period of training and acclimation, Miller has a much farther reaching background in the neo-classical sense of “must-haves” necessary to consistently excel in the modern game (namely wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu).

IT'S MILLER TIME (No, I am not above shitty puns.)

Miller wrestled Division I at Virginia Tech and is a black belt in BJJ under Jamie Cruz. Accordingly, aside from an early career loss versus current UFC lightweight champ Frankie Edgar and losing a decision to Gray Maynard at ‘The Bully’s’ prime, Miller has handled business against very serious competition.

In GASB’s opinion, there has not been a more formidable opponent in all of Miller’s career than Kamal Shalorus. The casual fight fan might make the mistake of looking at this matchup as a successful UFC vet facing a promising challenger making his UFC debut.

Please, don’t be “that guy.”

Kamal Shalorus is an absolute assassin. With Kamal, you’re looking at world-class wrestling abilities and results from tournaments all across the globe from a man that currently grapples with Randy Couture stateside. You’re getting a fighter who trains his BJJ under Reslon Gracie, Daniel Morales, and Phil Cardella. If the preceding information has opponents thinking “defend the takedown,” Kamal is well aware and will often capitalize with lightning-fast boxing that can render a TKO in mere seconds.

GASB favors: Kamal Shalorus, likely by rear naked choke. WEC fans know what they’re getting in Kamal Shalorus. This Saturday, under the biggest spotlight of his career, he will show the rest of the world what’s in store for the lightweight division in the coming years.

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• Bantamweight bout (135 lbs): Urijah Faber v. Eddie Wineland

This fight should serve its purpose of effectively introducing and integrating the lighter weight classes of WEC into the UFC.

While Urijah’s body might be giving him diminishing returns at this point, he still possesses a high level of athleticism, talent, and excitement across his game. The lighter weight class seemed to suit him well in his last fight versus Takeya Mizugaki and reports out of Team Alpha Male’s camp have him looking better than ever.

GASB has confidence that the former icon that essentially defined WEC for many years will rise to the occasion and truly show that the bantamweight division can and will be a tremendous addition to the promotion at large.

HE WON'T DO YOU ANY FABERS (Told you I'm not above puns.)

Eddie Wineland is the perfect guy to go toe-to-toe with Urijah at this point. His last two WEC fights were absolutely explosive (check out his slam on Ken Stone and TKO v. Will Campuzano to get a sense of the momentum he’s coming in on). Urijah is known for his trademark high-energy, relentless overall attack. Wineland is an excellent counter-striker and should be able to read and anticipate a lot of what Urijah hurls at him.

It will be a wonderful dynamic to keep your eye on throughout the fight.

GASB favors: Urijah Faber, likely by rear naked choke. Unless Wineland simply catches Urijah in the middle of a Faber-flurry, Urijah should be able to force the one mistake that will get Wineland to give up his back.

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• MAIN EVENT: Light Heavyweight Championship bout (205 lbs): Maurício “Shogun” Rua v. Jon “Bones” Jones

Praise be to Allah (or whatever pygmy deity you worship out there – props to Chael Sonnen) for putting Rashad “Suga” Evans down and praise be to Joe Silva for giving us Jon Jones in his place.

Fight fans everywhere have been high on Jon Jones from the onset. His unorthodox, lightning fast striking has humbled everyone in its path. It’s like watching the nature channel when a pride of lions need to feast.

Jones was handed his title shot within seconds upon defeating his toughest challenge to date in Ryan Bader. In what was supposed to be the unstoppable force versus the immovable object, the unstoppable force barely broke a sweat.  Jones absolutely dominated Bader for the duration of round one before sinking in a guillotine for the win and “Submission of the Night” honors.

Unquestionably, nobody’s star, nobody’s potential right now can eclipse the hype train that is Jon Jones.

Standing across the cage will be a true MMA champion and warrior in the form of Maurício “Shogun” Rua. The man is a legend and he walks to the ring holding the scalps of some of the greatest fighters MMA has ever produced. Consider for a moment how completely insane it is that one man was able to convincingly dismantle Alistair Overeem (twice!), Rampage Jackson, Big Nog, Kevin Randleman, Mark Coleman, Chuck Liddell, and Lyoto Machida.

Rua did in all of them (and several others) before the age of 30.

THE CHAMP IS HERE

Essentially, the hype train that’s backing Jones and the fighter himself need to heed the history and the top level well-roundedness of Rua’s game. At the same time, the old guard of Pride freaks and team Rua all need to understand that he’s going up against a fighter that possesses a unique and freakishly unorthodox skill-set the likes nobody has ever seen.

Expect fireworks.

GASB favors: Jon Jones, likely by knockout. The meteoric rise of this young fighter is approaching (prime) Tyson-esque excitement and critical mass. After the sheer dominance over Bader, the sky is absolutely the limit on where Jonny Bones goes from here forward.

– Brent Eyestone

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UFC 126 MEGA-PREVIEW

If you only purchase one UFC PPV this year (and trust us, at $54.99 a shot, we feel your pain), UFC 126 certainly contends high in terms of bang for your buck.

Perhaps sensing the recent slump in sales and overall enthusiasm, Joe Silva and the Fertitta brothers have put together a fight card laced with pure gunpowder. It’s been some time since GASB has been THIS excited about a UFC card, so let’s dive right in, beginning with two free undercard matchups that will air on Spike TV at 9PM EST.

Scheduled-to-air preliminary bouts (Spike TV):

• Featherweight bout (145 lbs): Chad Mendes v. Michihiro Omigawa

GASB has long been an unapologetic fan of WEC (World Extreme Cagefighting). With its recent and complete absorption into Zuffa/UFC, we fully expect the overall quality and excitement of the average UFC bout to raise exponentially as lighter, more conditioned athletes are put before the casual UFC fan, who simply haven’t been treated to what these tiny warriors are capable of.

TRAVEL-SIZED TERROR

In terms of the free broadcast on Spike TV, there is no better intro to the casual fan toward the brand new featherweight division than Mendes v. Omigawa. Michihiro comes to us direct from Japan, where he’s riding a 5-fight win streak, a #4 featherweight ranking, and revered status given his fight history in Dream, Sengoku, and the Judo world. His recent victories have showcased a submission game and more complete mixed martial arts skill set than previous efforts have hinted at. Meanwhile, Chad Mendes comes to the cage with a 9-0 undefeated professional record and a sharp uptick in terms of career potential.

What we like most about Mendes is his camp: Team Alpha Male, notorious for churning out relentless, untiring, and well-rounded attacks. In this regard, Mendes is the prototypical Alpha Male specimen.

GASB favors: Chad Mendes, likely via unanimous decision. Omigawa flirted with the UFC in 2008 and didn’t fare well. The same can be said of many other Japanese stars who cross the Pacific toward the bright lights of WEC and UFC. Beyond this, Mendes recently toppled two of the featherweight division’s studs in both Cub Swanson and Javier Vasquez. Team Alpha Male prepares their fighters well for the spotlight and Mendes will come out in top mental and physical shape for this one.

• Lightweight bout (155 lbs): Donald Cerrone v. Paul Kelly

With Sam Stout being forced to drop from the card, another WEC alum and staple, Donald “The Cowboy” Cerrone, gets a chance to hit the reset button and rebrand himself to an entirely new set of fight fans in the UFC. GASB highly suspects that the casual UFC fan is going to eat up the “irreverent cowboy” schtick from “go,” but Donald will need to back it up immediately with a convincing win over Paul Kelly — a fighter that many UFC faithful know quite well.

Kelly has fought often and fought hard in the UFC for the past three years, with epic battles versus Jacob Volkmann, Matt Veach, and Dennis Siver being pleasant surprises on otherwise underwhelming and perhaps even bizarre cards (Silva/Maia anyone?).

Cerrone is an unapologetic brawler with a ridiculous muay thai skillset. He loves to stand and often baits opponents into thinking they’re in for a slugfest. Yet, far more often than not, the fight suddenly drops to the ground where Donald is extremely good at a host of submissions. Throughout the years, we’ve seen him sink absolutely vicious guillotines, triangles, and rear naked chokes out of nowhere. This deceiving well-roundedness has garnered Cerrone several “Fight of the Night” honors and even WEC “Fight of the Year” in 2009.

DON'T MESS WITH TEXAS

Kelly is also no stranger to “Fight of the Night” honors, having defeated countryman (and current teammate) Paul Taylor in an absolute war on the undercard of UFC 80. It will be interesting to see what could possibly be an entire change in gameplan and strategy, as Kelly recently migrated from the Wolfslair camp over to Team Kaobon. Whereas Wolfslair fighters are known for great wrestling and boxing, Kaobon’s pedigree is top level muay thai striking, Luta Livre (a more diverse wrestling system), and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. We could see an entirely new Paul Kelly.

GASB favors: Donald Cerrone, possibly via split decision. We anticipate and hope for a more vicious and dangerous Paul Kelly coming into this fight, but have to give the “on paper” war to Cerrone until we see it.

MAIN CARD (Pay-Per-View):

• Bantamweight bout (135 lbs): Miguel Angel Torres v. Antonio Banuelos

The PPV kicks off with yet another WEC carryover fight. GASB literally gets goosebumps thinking about this one.

Prior to August 9, 2009, Miguel Angel Torres was regarded by many as the most dangerous pound for pound fighter walking the planet. He walked through, dominated, destroyed, and… rearranged other men. If you’re unfamiliar with his fist canon and plan on consulting the record books, please note that “Doctor Stoppage” is code for “Plastic Surgery Candidate.” More often than not, Miguel Torres fights looked like a man systematically destroying a series of boys as sacrificial offerings to prevent him from slaying entire villages of people. In 2009, someone over at aforementioned Team Alpha Male figured out the winning formula and the MMA world sat in shock as both Brian Bowles and Joseph Benavidez stunned Torres with knockout and submission victories, respectively.

Torres got back into the habit of winning with a convincing rear naked choke against Charlie Valencia in the fall of 2010, but the jury is still out as to whether or not he can ever return to form.

Antonio Banuelos is a fun watch. At 5’3″, he always looks a little heavier than his competition. When he connects, he has the ability to knock out anyone. What’s more impressive is his ability at times to absorb an unusual amount of punches to the face. There have been many fights where GASB has leapt from the couch, entirely enthusiastic over Banuelos still standing after getting repeatedly blasted in the face by his opponents.  All of these factors should get the blood pumping and lend for a great opening act at UFC 126.

GASB favors: Miguel Angel Torres, likely by TKO. While his chin might allow him to hang in there for some murderous exchanges, Antonio Banuelos is no Alpha Male.

• Light Heavyweight bout (205 lbs): Jon “Bones” Jones v. Ryan “Darth” Bader

This is GASB’s MUST-SEE FIGHT for UFC 126.

With the possible exception of Anderson Silva, this matchup pairs the two purest athletes on the card against one another. Expect to watch this one in awe of both the physical acumen of these competitors and their mental game against one another. In Jones, you have a top-tier, violent striker with a disgusting amount of unrelenting precision. In Bader, you have a world class wrestler with inhuman stopping power. Jones trains with Greg Jackson. Bader routinely spars with current UFC Heavyweight champion Cain Valasquez. Bader is undefeated as a professional and boasts an NCAA Division I wrestling champ.

RESISTING THE URGE TO MAKE A STAR WARS PUN

Jones would be undefeated if it weren’t for that dumb 6 o’clock elbow rule (DQ). Jones has essentially put his signature on the spinning backfist maneuver. Bader took out a freaking NOGUEIRA BROTHER.

You’re not going to find a more impressive resume across any pairing of current rising UFC talent.

One could even argue that to match these two phenoms against each other so early in their bright careers might be a bad business decision for Zuffa. While that may be true financially, all that matters is that we get to see two otherworldly young athletes entering into their prime and completely standing in the way of each other.

This one is going to come down simply to who wants it more than the other; a very, very dangerous proposition when speaking of these two individuals. The referee for this fight better be quick on his/her feet to avoid permanent injury to one of the combatants.

GASB favors: Ryan Bader, likely by decision. In 2011, you’d be crazy to pick against Arizona State alums in the cage. We also feel Bader has more ways to win this fight (under the presumption that any Jones takedown will be stuffed instantly by Bader’s supreme wrestling pedigree).

• Welterweight bout (170 lbs): Jake Ellenberger v. Carlos Eduardo Rocha

Around the time that GASB will be shoving Gatorade I.V. needles into its flesh after screaming for the entirety of Jones v. Bader, two fantastic fighters will again be taking to the cage.

We love Jake Ellenberger’s fights. He’s a great, well-rounded fighter who uses a strong wrestling base to open up a host of other disciplines that he can then tailor toward each opponent. In short, he’s a true mixed martial arts fighter. If you haven’t seen his round 1 knockout over Mercelo Alfaya at Bellator 11, treat yourself as soon as possible.

Carlos Eduardo Rocha is the perfect matchup for Jake Ellenberger right now. This is the classic scenario of pitting a man at a crucial point in his journeyman-esque career versus a relatively unknown, yet extremely impressive newcomer.

Originally from Cabedelo down in Brazil, but currently fighting out of Hamburg, Germany, Rocha is a submission assassin, receiving his black belt from Dárcio Lira. He absolutely dismantled three men in one night at the 2009 Manto Cup and instantly put himself on the UFC radar. He made extremely quick work of Ultimate Fighter loudmouth Kris McCray at UFC 122 and has many diehards buzzing about where the ceiling is for this promising BJJ specimen.

GASB favors: Carlos Eduardo Rocha, likely by some insane choke. Maybe a Peruvian Necktie or Gogoplata (shin choke). This spot on the card is the perfect opportunity for Rocha to INSTANTLY make a name for himself and we see him rising to the occasion.

• Light Heavyweight bout (205 lbs): Forrest Griffin v. Rich Franklin

Great matchup, Joe Silva! This fight has no bearing whatsoever on the Light Heavyweight division — too many recent, high-profile losses for both — but these are two perennial fan favorites and should do wonders in terms of exposing all of these other younger, more promising fighters to the mainstream.

Both men are at a point in their careers where they’ve accepted that the fans want to see them brawl and put on a good show. They’ll do just that, complete with crowd interaction and slugfest pandering. It’s an entirely fun matchup and there’s nothing wrong with that here.

As this has no impact whatsoever on the modern light heavyweight landscape, GASB will simply throw our feet up and take in the show.

GASB favors: Rich Franklin, likely by KO. Forrest’s chin isn’t what it used to be and Franklin still has the discipline to hold composure in a punch-heavy exchange. He’ll find his mark as Forrest drops hands.

• MAIN EVENT: Middleweight Championship bout (185 lbs): Anderson “The Spider” Silva (Champion) v. Vitor Belfort (Challenger)

This is an interesting one.

Literally six years to the day after his last stint in UFC, Vitor gets a shot at the belt after only one current UFC fight (where he knocked out Rich Franklin at UFC 103). It’s truly hard to know what to expect. He’s a world class Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner (having trained with the Gracies), yet in recent years, he’s tried his hand at professional boxing, even attempting to make something happen with Golden Boy Promotions a few years ago.

He’s certainly stacked up a respectable amount of MMA knockouts since his last UFC foray, but one wonders if that’s the strategy that will be employed against Anderson Silva in this matchup (especially after seeing Chael Sonnen’s BJJ attack actually push Anderson for 4 9/10 rounds in his last fight).

THE CHAMP IS HERE

Then you have to factor in the enigma that is Anderson Silva himself.

Does anyone out there know what to expect from the champion? Will he take this fight seriously? Will he even exert himself until he needs to? Will he try to invent new techniques on the fly? In many ways, the quality and results of this fight are entirely dependent on what’s going on in Anderson Silva’s head. He’s by far the superior athlete on this card and in UFC on the whole. This enables him to be bored, confused, and well… confusing.

At the end of the day, there is no bigger Anderson Silva fan than GASB, yet we’d be irresponsible to note that Zuffa is certainly taking another risk on a Silva-headlining card.

Thankfully, they’ve padded the card with fights that could comprise their own PPV even if Silva v. Belfort wasn’t on. In this regard, we can all look at the main event as icing on an already substantial cake. To that end, they’ll either have gotten the icing perfect or catastrophic. We just don’t know yet. If the latter, you might as well start following Dana White’s Twitter now for what will surely be a classic middle-aged white man meltdown at the conclusion of the evening.

GASB favors: Anderson “The Spider” Silva, likely by standing knockout. GASB feels that Silva is far more intrigued by fighting Roy Jones, Jr. at this point than his UFC legacy. He will use fellow aspiring boxer Vitor Belfort to make his case to the world.

Of note: this is the final fight on Silva’s UFC contract.

Enjoy the fights!

– Brent Eyestone