HOW DO YOU DEFEAT JON BONES JONES?
He’s a phenom. He’s amazing and has the potential to become the greatest fighter in the history of this young sport. He encompasses everything that we’ve been waiting for as fans mixed martial arts.
For years we’ve been saying something akin to this: “The fighters today have had to learn other styles of fighting. A kickboxer needed to learn to grapple and wrestle, a grappler needed to learn to strike, but now with the popularity of the sport younger fighters are learning everything together in one MMA package and those fighters are coming.”
With Jon Bones Jones they have finally arrived. He is the total MMA package and he’s only 23. I’ll have to admit that I hoped he would lose against Maurício Shogun Rua, for the simple reason that he did not pay his dues by fighting the best in maybe the deepest division in the UFC and also because there was no doubt in my mind that even if he lost against Shogun at UFC 128, he would eventually be the champion and would hold the title for a long time.
There is one problem. Jon Jones just manhandled one of the greatest pound for pound fighters in the world, what’s the key to his success? He is very skilled, he’s a great wrestler, striker and he has submissions down, especially chokes, but what is his main advantage?
His eighty-four inch reach is the key to his dominant performances.
That reach is what allows him to effectively use all his other weapons. The fight against Ryan Bader and the fight against Rua were basically the same fight. Jon Jones used his reach advantage to hold off both fighters and then worked his game plan. The only difference being that Jones did it against a wrestler in the Bader fight and against a dynamic striker in the Shogun fight. Bader was not able to get close enough when he shot in for his takedowns, Jones’ elbows and fists kept him too far away, and with Bader’s wrestling skills negated, Jones’ was able to strike when he needed to and to catch Bader in a choke rather than find himself beneath the world class wrestler after a takedown.
Shogun found himself in the same general situation. Jones kept an arm straight out Oscar De La Hoya style for a good portion of the match, keeping the dangerous Shogun at bay, this allowed Jones to be able to work his game plan without having to worry about Shogun’s aggressive striking. It helps then to have such a high level of skill in every other facet of the game as Jon Jones does, when he took Rua down, he was able to tire and hurt Rua with elbows and in the first round as Rua was getting out of that bad position Jones was able to connect with his fist and his leg against Rua’s face and body, keeping Rua shaky for the rest of the fight, in fact who knows why Jones wasn’t more aggressive at the end of that first round, it easily could have ended there.
I don’t know how anyone could disagree that Jones’ reach is the center of his whole game, to most it’s obvious. So the question is: “How to you nullify Jones’ reach?” I think it becomes a question of intensity. People were asking the same question when it seemed as though Lesnar was too fast too big and too strong. Cain Velasquez brought the intensity to him and was able to pull out a win. I’m not saying that you can’t play a thinking game against Jones, but you have to play a thinking game with speed and intensity higher than anyone has ever had in a fight with him to this point. You have to get inside but avoid the clinch, you have to cut off the ring so he can’t become Machida and counterattack while backing up, you have to press him and make him feel like he has to go for a desperate takedown like Lesnar had to against Cain. All this is easier said than done but one thing we’ve learned is that you CANNOT let Jones set the pace with those long arms; it was Rua that should have started with a flying knee not Bones.
What do you think? Is his reach the center of his success? Is there a better way to nullify it?
Chris Sarda This post also appears on http://ww.combatrocks.wordpress.com/