Some of you might not know who Jon Olav Einemo is, so let me make an introduction. He hails from Norway and stands at 6'6" tall, hovering around 245 pounds. He holds ADCC victories over such greats as Ronaldo Souza. He is the only fighter to hold a win over Roger Gracie in an ADCC Submission Wrestling Championship event in 2003. Gracie avenged the loss in 2007 in a terrific bout. If you have never seen it, and enjoy top notch grappling, it exists on You Tube in three parts. It's a real treat. He has a 7-1 MMA record with his only defeat coming at the hands of Fabricio Werdum at Pride 31. He is no spring chicken at the age of 35. So, where has he been? Aside from a bout against Kresimir Bogdonovic last summer in Bosnia he has been absent from the sport since he beat James Thompson via armbar in November of 2006. From 2006 on he dealt with a variety of injuries that prevented him from competing in MMA. Once he returned to health and was able to begin training again he was immediately scooped up by the merciless Golden Glory team in early 2009. He began training in the famous Breda Dojo with the likes of Semmy Schilt, Gohkan Saki, and Alistair Overeem. Recently, he spent most of his time working with Sergei Kharitonov in preparation for his Grand Prix match against Andre Arlovski. What does this tell us? A 6'6" grappling monster has likely developed a solid stand up game working with the top striking team in MMA. That should give almost any heavyweight pause.
Since the departure of Fabricio Werdum, and the arrival of the staph infection that turned Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera into a ghost of his former self, elite level BJJ has been missing from the UFC's Heavyweight division. For years now, the wrestlers have held dominance over the top of the weight class. That could change. On this day, Jon Olav Einemo signed a UFC contract.
The current crop of elite UFC heavyweights simply have not seen someone like Einemo. Most of them employ their trade with take downs and solid ground and pound, sans JDS. Now they will have to deal with someone who wants to go to the ground and can do his work there better than almost anyone in the sport, certainly in the division. I love this signing for the UFC. It is a great international signing for them as they continue their global expansion. But, more so, to have someone of this kind of pure skill is exciting. So much of my enjoyment of MMA comes from watching contrasting styles collide and this has been lacking in their heavyweight division. They have been missing a master BJJ technician for some time and I believe it is the strongest base for a MMA fighter. I'm thrilled it is properly represented again in the weight class. Couple that kind of BJJ with striking skills and you have a very unique big man that presents a whole different skill set of problems for his competitors to figure out. We will see what happens when he actually gets in the Octagon but I have a feeling he is going to turn the division on its ear.