FanPost

UFC 145: The Phenoms


UFC 146 is a full heavyweight card and got the fancy "The Heavyweights" tag line. For UFC 145 most people are focusing on solely the main event and are complaining about the depth of this card. However, this card isn't without a theme itself. For UFC 145 three of the six main card fights feature a fighter who would qualify as a phenom. Phenoms are different from prospects because they have a very high degree of understanding despite their youth and/or inexperience. Prospects may eventually reach their potential as a contender, but legitimate phenoms have a legitimate shot of being champions. They are guys who just seem "special." These fighters are Jon Jones, Rory MacDonald, and Michael McDonald. As such I thought I'd break them down a bit and see where them in the future in order from main event down

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via cdn2.sbnation.com

Jon Jones

Phenom Credentials

We all know Jon's story of how he learned moves on youtube and rode that to and undefeated record and a UFC invite. Two fights into his UFC career people had him pegged as a future champion. What is amazing about him is he has achieved that, but we still don't really know just how good Jon Jones really is. The last time he was seriously tested in a fight was in his first UFC fight against Andre Gusmao(seriously go watch it if you don't remember it). He has been tagged as the "leader of the new school" which is the mythical future where NFL caliber athletes will be common place in MMA in the future.

As a Fighter

During his rise many people have compared him to Machida where he is a puzzle that needs to be figured out. Instead of a puzzle have always seen Jon Jones as a series of traps. Jon Jones is a lanky guy so the general gameplan for that body type is to bulldoze inside his reach and take him down or throw hooks. With Jon his strongest skill is his wrestling and he can cause fight ending damage from the guard. However if his opponent decides to stay outside then Jon will use his, usually, tremendous reach advantage to effect and cruise through the fight. Besides his physical attributes is that his fight IQ is off the charts. He has an uncanny ability to know the perfect time to put pressure on his opponents and rarely does something stupid.

The Future(and fight prediction)

Jon's goal is clearly to be the best fighter ever and with his attitude and abilities he has a legitimate shot at attaining that goal. As long as he keeps his hunger and doesn't try for too much too soon(like challenge JDS at UFC 146) then he should be a champion for a long time. I personally see Jon Jones adding Rashad to his list of accomplishments. Rashad can only win this fight if he catches Jon Jones and (T)KOs him. That is possible, but it's more likely that Jon will get Rashad down and throw some 'bows that would make Ludacris proud and call it at night.

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via cdn.bleacherreport.net

Rory MacDonald

Phenom Credentials

Rory came into the UFC as a wee 20 year old and proceeded to disrespect his elders and get first round stoppage. He was very highly hyped coming into the UFC and has lived up to that hype. The only person who has bested him is current Interim Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit and that was a very narrow victory for the Natural Born Killer. The UFC is trying to bring him along slowly, but it is very likely that Rory is currently the second or third best fighter in the weight class. His teammate Georges St. Pierre said that the 22 year old will be welterweight champion and based on what we have seen so far that isn't a bold claim. I do wonder what kind of timeline GSP has on that prediction since Rory is probably a year away from a shot if he keeps winning.

As a Fighter

The Waterboy Ares has been training MMA since he was 14 and it shows with how well rounded he is. In addition to the plethora of skills he has he is also a great athlete. He is fast, strong, and has very good power. He will take whatever you give him and will make you pay for it. He is a true mixed martial artist, he started training all disciplines, and may not have something that he is "world class" at, but he usually seems to be better at two of the three main parts of MMA(striking, wrestling, BJJ) than his opponents.

The Future(and fight prediction)

The only fighter at WW that I wouldn't have Rory as a favorite against would be GSP. The reason for that is that GSP is the only guy that I see being better in more than one area than Rory. There could also be some questions of how he deals with an opponent who won't go away, but I think the Condit fight was more of a learning experience than a harbinger of his future. In his fight against Che Mills I see it living up to the line. I've only seen 40 seconds of Mills versus a TUF fighter, so I don't know how legit he is. I know Rory is legit so I'm going to roll with the favorite here.

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via cdn.bleacherreport.net

Michael McDonald

Phenom Credentials

Mayday, like Rory, started his MMA training at 14 years old. Unlike Rory he started as a kickboxer and then transitioned to MMA. He went pro at 16 years old and has gone on a tear since. He developed so quickly that I am fairly sure that he is still the youngest fighter on the Zuffa roster despite being a part of the company two years. For those of you reading this and you're in your mid 20s, or older, this guy was born in 1991. Damn, that makes me feel old.

As a Fighter

Michael has had quite a devastating career so far. He has only had two of his fights go to decision. What is interesting is most of his stoppages are from KOs despite him being a bantamweight. He has had one loss in his career so far and has avenged it by KOing Cole Escovedo and taking his title. Despite his age he is very experienced. Once he made the switch over to the UFC he had his first two decisions, but he seemed to get back into his grove against Soto. Now all he needs is to be tested and that leads us too...

The Future(and fight prediction)

Of the three phenoms Michael is the one I'm least familiar with. I honestly don't remember how his first two fights in the UFC went or his WEC fight despite being positive I watched them. His name has stuck with me from when I first saw him and I stay on the bandwagon regardless. He is the fighter of the three I am least confident about. He is getting his first real test in former champion Miguel Torres. This fight is basically a pick'em on the sports books so I'm not the only one torn. When it was first announced I went with McDonald partially because I'm high on him and partially because I think Miguel has fallen off the cliff that great athletes sometimes fall off of. As long as he doesn't get completely dominated by Miguel there could be a good result from this even if he loses.

Wrap Up

I appreciate you taking the time to read all of this. If you're on the fence about buying this card I hope this pushed you over the edge. Phenoms are rare in every sport and when you have a chance to see three of them on one card then that is something to be appreciated. What is also interesting is that all three phenoms are in different spots of phenom-dom. Michael has tons of potential, but hasn't been tested, Rory is rising into contender status, and Jon Jones is a dominant champion(by Light Heavyweight standards).

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.

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