You were all watching, and if you weren't you heard about it within 24 hours.
Rashad is out. Bones is in.
I, like most of you, involuntarily busted a little bit of the nut I was saving for Silva when Joe asked Bones if he indeed did want to step up and take his shot. "Awwww shit son! SHIT SON!" was all that was heard for miles around, resonating through the brisk Canadian urbanside. But then I got sober...
On the surface it would appear that Jones is indeed ready to face Rua, even on such short notice. He took zero damage from Bader, so really his 6 week camp becomes a 10-12 week camp.
Starting with his fight against Stephan Boner, Jones has shown a steady quantum leaping of progression through his skills and wins. Dropping fools with spinning back elbows, spinning back kicks, shattering men's faces with single blows of his albatross wings. He has displayed GSP level of top control, making the Janitor and Bader look like small children at a strip club: Confused, awkward, and more than a little afraid. His performance against Bader, which many felt to be Jones' first real litmus test, especially validated him as The Realness.
His reach is freakish. His Athletecism unmatched. His camp the best in the business. Able to use any technique his mind can come up with at the drop of a hat. This young lion seems poised to do the same to Shogun as he has done to all his previous opponents.
Or is he?
Where some would call Jones' flashy striking elite level, I personally would not. The gaping holes in his game are quite apparent even to an armchair striker such as myself. Flat feet, leaving his hands down, the timing of his jab and his weight distribution on said jab, are all openings a fighter like Shogun can see clear as day, and will capitalize on every single time. Jones' has gotten away with these mistakes in the past due to facing sub-par strikers. I would like to have seen what Vera could have done in the standup department, unfortunately his face seems to be made out of cut-corner Phillipine building materials.
So despite Jones' freakish reach and explosiveness I have to give Shogun the edge in striking. The technicality of Shogun's game is light years ahead of Jones. It's not just about reach and speed. Timing, baiting, footwork and perceptual speed are all in Rua's favour. As far as power goes it's kind of a meme that no one kicks harder than Shogun, and he certainly has some weight in those hands. We haven't really seen Bones' chin tested yet, but you need a good one to take a shot from Rua, I think we can all agree there. As for Shogun? I submit to you: Shogun vs Nog at PRIDE: CRITICAL COUNTDOWN 2005. Rua's chin is literally made of Iron and ferrous rock deposits. And magnets. Don't forget the magnets.
Next up: The Clinch. Jones has indeed shown some crazy offense from the clinch. His length is a supreme asset in making contact with those knees and we all saw what he did to Boner once he got ahold of his waist. That being said, no one, NO ONE wants to be in a clinch with Mauricio Rua. Rampage Jackson credits Rua with handing him the single worst beating of his life, delivered almost entirely in the clinch of Shogun. The ten soccer kicks to the face were just icing on the cake, as Quinton's ribs were cracked to pieces well before that.
"Well, Bones isn't an idiot you jackass. Him and Greg will come up with a plan to neutralize the superior striking and clinch game of the Shogun. Jackass." You might be saying to yourself just now. And you are probably right. SO what would the Maestro Jackson come up with? Perhaps attack an area where Shogun is perceived to be the weakest: Wrestling. Get Shogun to the floor, stay on top of him and keep him there. Sounds like a good idea, in theory. Of his 19 wins, only 2 have come by way of submission, sounds to me like in his guard is the safest place to be. Sounds like it, anyways, until you watch what Shogun is capable of doing to men off of his back. Realize that he doesn't submit anyone because after about 30 seconds in his guard they feel more in danger than when he is kicking them in the face. Randleman, Nog, Overeem, and Arona are but a few who can attest the fact the ground is the last place you want to hang with Shogun.
So it seems to be the only advantages enjoyed by Bones are reach, youth, and athleticism.
I will however acknowledge the fact Shogun is coming off of knee surgery, and post-op Shogun is the one we saw drop one to Forrest and barely put away a saggy, eroded, bombed-out Mark Coleman. If the surgery hasn't allowed Rua to develop his normal gas tank, then Jones could drag him into deep water and have his way with a gassed out Rua. I have two things to say about that:
1. Jones has also shown a suspect gastank, with a healthy knee. He faded alot in the 3rd rounds of his fights both with Gusmao and Boner. If this happens with a healthy Shogun it's nighty night.
2. Recent advancements in ACL and MCL reconstructions actually make the new knee twice as strong as the old one. In theory this should mean once it was healed and rehabbed Shogun could pound out the drills and cardio like he did when he was 20. Also bad news for Bones.
My point is that Jones' clearest path to victory relies almost exclusively on what type of tank Shogun shows up with come fight time. He will not be able to outclass Rua in any area if he is at 100%.
I see this finishing with Shogun sitting on top of Bones pounding his face into jelly until he quits or Herb has seen enough. How bout you guys?