Following last night's UFC on Versus II event, one major point stood out above all others. Jon Jones will be a future UFC light heavyweight champion. There is no doubt about it, and last night's absolute drubbing of Vladimir Matyushenko proves that he's ready for the next step up in competition. While Jones and his camp tried to stress that Vladimir was a major step up the ladder, the 39-year-old Matyushenko didn't have the physical gifts to compete with Jones. Perhaps a couple of fights ago, Matyushenko could have performed under the duress of Jones' strength, but Greg Jackson seems to have locked up some of Jones' technical weaknesses and improved his ground game considerably over the last couple of bouts.
Opponents are scarce right now as the top of the division has match-ups to settle, and I doubt Dana White and company are ready to push Jones into the title spotlight just yet. I actually think Forrest Griffin makes the most sense from a business standpoint, especially if Zuffa wants to push Jones to the top. Griffin doesn't offer unbelievable wrestling or great boxing technique, but he's good enough at both to be a very well-rounded fighter. With that said, I still think Jones bombs him in one round of action.
Turning our focus to the co-main event battle between middleweights Yushin Okami and Mark Munoz, one thought continuously ran through my mind as the fight dragged on. Munoz's wrestling is absolutely awful, just awful. NCAA Division I championship wrestling credentials... sure, but they apparently haven't translated to high-level wrestling in mixed martial arts. Munoz was consistently slow in his takedown attempts, and at one point -- he was dropping to his knees before actually progressing forward with his hips. He almost never exploded through his attempts, and Okami answered almost every single attempt with a hand on the back of the head and downward push to stuff it.
It wasn't the most exciting fight, but Munoz's desperation for the takedown and Okami's ability to stuff every attempt didn't exactly give Yushin a lot of opportunity to land strikes. Okami definitely proved he still has what it takes to win against American wrestlers, but I was hoping we'd see some solid boxing in this fight. Unfortunately, Munoz didn't give him much of a chance to do so.
Takanori Gomi's one minute and four second knockout of Tyson Griffin was absolutely beautiful to watch. It's always nice to watch a fighter who has failed so miserably in recent years come back from bouts of depression to win on the biggest stage in mixed martial arts, and Takanori Gomi did exactly that. Two solid body shots set up a wicked right hook, instantly putting Griffin into a coma. Impressive win for Gomi, and while I don't think it puts a stop in the reality that Japanese MMA is on the decline -- it certainly validates the fact that Takanori Gomi has knockout power and has an interesting road ahead of him. If he can shore up his wrestling, Gomi has the opportunity to become a real challenger at the top of the division. Wrestleboxers beware!
- Jake Ellenberger ate a few big shots over the course of his bout with John Howard, but came out on top in dominant fashion via a much better wrestling game and a well-placed elbow that busted Howard's eye. Nothing surprising in that fight. Howard showed him weaknesses to wrestling, but having a completely shut eye for almost half the fight certainly didn't help him with stopping shots. It actually looked like he couldn't see Ellenberger shooting at all.
- Jacob Volkmann proved that American wrestling is still king against British counterparts as Paul Kelly had no answer for Volkmann's takedown game. Kelly did land a very nice jumping knee in the latter parts of the third round, but it wasn't enough as Volkmann blanketed Kelly for most of the fight.
- Matt Riddle effectively took DaMarques Johnson down, beat on him with elbows and punches from top control, and dominated him for two rounds before knocking him out late in the second via GnP. Solid win for Riddle, and his twin girls can now go see their grandparents.
- Surprisingly, Igor Pokrajac not only got the better of James Irvin in the short period of striking in their UFC on Versus II undercard battle, but Pokrajac was able to secure a rear-naked choke at 2:29 in the first round for the victory.
- A la John Howard, Brian Stann was able to pull off a miraculous triangle choke submission win at 3:10 of the third round after being outwrestled by Mike Massenzio for most of the fight.
- Charles Oliveira lived up to the hype, securing a very speedy triangle choke transition to choke out Darren Elkins. Keep an eye out on this kid. If he can improve his abilities off his back and gain some better takedown defense, he'll be a solid prospect in the division.
- Rob Kimmons edged out Steve Steinbeiss in the first battle of the evening.