Mauricio "Shogun" Rua has seen a lot in his nine year mixed martial arts career. He's fought the best of the best: Quinton Jackson, Chuck Liddell, and Lyoto Machida all dot a resume that includes nine fights with former champions. But he's never seen anyone like Jon Jones. No one has.
Looking at a snapshot of Jones's career, provided by the amazing team at FightMetric, the numbers are staggering. Jones has landed twice as many strikes as his opponents in a seven fight UFC tenure. He's taken down opponents with an almost 70 percent accuracy rate, one of the best in UFC history. Almost a third of those takedowns were "slams" a takedown that sees a fighter take an opponent completely off both feet before depositing him on the mat. Conversely, no opponent has managed to put Jones on the mat. This includes a collection of great wrestlers like Ryan Bader, Matt Hamill, and Vladimir Matyushenko.
Rua, for his part, has rarely successfully defended a takedown during his time in the UFC. While he was able to control his own destiny much better in the Pride days, injuries have cost him dearly. Shogun's UFC opponents went 12 of 14 on takedowns, meaning almost certainly Jones will put him on his back if he's able to put his hands on him. From there, dangerous ground and pound usually spells the end.
Things seem hopeless for Rua on paper. How can he stand in front of a force of nature and hope to survive? But things aren't, perhaps, as desperate as they seem for the Brazilian. Rua excels in areas where Jones is largely untested - the standup and submission games. Specifically leg kicks. We all remember Rua shredding opponents like Machida with thunderous kicks to the thigh. It's something Jones hasn't yet encountered in the Octagon.
In his entire career, mostly spent battling fellow wrestlers, Jones has faced only 27 leg kicks of which 18 landed. Eleven of those came in his very first fight against Andre Gusmao. He's a complete unknown against a striker of Rua's caliber.
The other place Jones remains untested is in defense of submissions. The Greg Jackson product has never faced a significant submission attempt in his UFC career. Rua, with time to operate on the bottom, will change that. Although he's only won once by submission, his ground game is slick. He'll test Jones, looking for a hole a succession of wrestlers has been unable to locate.
Right now, Jones is a statistical monster. Physically he's a giant as well. Could that strength be a weakness. At 6'4", is the key for opponents to chop Jones down to size? Once on the ground, does a submission expert stand a chance if he strikes quickly? Rua will put these theories to the test and after Saturday night, FightMetric and future opponents may be rewriting the book on how to combat a young fighter who is seemingly unbeatable.