Jon Jones is a wrestle-striking revolutionary. No mixed martial artist uses wrestling moves to create striking opportunities as often, as inventively, or as skillfully.
In the first entry of this two part series, we first looked at how Jones employs wrestling-style hand fighting to set up strikes during his UFC 172 main-event fight with Glover Teixeira. Now we will see how Jones uses the ever-present threat of his takedowns to open his opponent up to even more crushing punches and elbows.
In order to first use takedowns for the purpose of setting up shots, the wrestle-striker must demonstrate the ability to ground his opponent from a neutral position. Early in the second round of their title fight, Jones establishes his ability to execute swift and effective wrestling takedowns by committing to his first true shot on Teixeira.
Frames 1-4: Before round two, Jones' coach, Greg Jackson, instructs him to use a misdirection double leg as a means of taking down Teixeira. Shortly after the second round begins, Jones follows Jackson's advice and shoots a double. I am guessing that the misdirection element comes when Jones stands straight up and back pedals (frames 1 & 2) to bait Teixeira into coming forward and reaching with a jab. Once Teixeira steps into Jones and throws a punch, Jones immediately shoots underneath the punch, and Teixeira's forward momentum allows for nice deep penetration on the shot.
Frames 5-8: Though Jones places himself in excellent position to achieve a takedown, he chooses to finish with a somewhat lazy dump over his own head, perhaps underestimating Teixeira's wrestling ability. Teixeira prevents the take down by posting his left hand on the canvas (frame 6), waist whizzering hard with his right arm (frame 7) and heisting his left leg out from underneath him. Jones does not succeed in finishing the takedown, but he has planted a seed of wariness in his opponent's mind. Teixeira must now fight mindful the imminent threat of takedowns.
Once Jones announces the looming danger of his takedowns, he begins to use fake takedown attempts in lowering Teixeira's guard in order to throw potentially fight-altering strikes. After the failed shot attempt early in round two, Jones twice uses the following wrestle/punch combo on Teixeira.
Frame 1: Jones established himself the appropriate distance from Teixeira.
Frames 2 & 3: Jones reaches for Teixeira's left leg as if he intends to snatch a single leg.
Frames 4 & 5: Jones immediately follows the feinted single leg with a powerful straight left. He times the punch to land just as Teixeira lowers his hands to defend against the dummy takedown attempt.
Frames 6-8: Fortunately for Teixeira, the straight left lands on the shoulder, and not the face. The blow still possesses enough force to knock him violently backward.
The most brilliant bit of wrestle-striking used by Jones comes a little later in the fight, as he repeatedly lowers his level to create the appearance of a coming double leg shot, only to explode upwards with a nasty elbow. Below, Jones sets this trap with particular adeptness in the fifth and final round.
Frame 1: As always, these sequences begin with Jones standing the proper distance away. Jones seems to have a brilliant sense of space management.
Frames 2 & 3: Jones lowers his level and gathers himself for an explosive motion.
Frame 4: By this point in the fight, Jones has penetrated on three solid double legs. Teixeira sees Jones' level lower and anticipates another double, and in response he lowers his hands below his waist to defend the shot.
Frame 5: Jones uncoils a vicious upward elbow, seeking to meet Teixeira's face just as the Brazilian drops into a more wrestling-friendly posture.
Frames 6-8: Once again, Teixeira luckily only endures a glancing impact, but Jones shows an unmatched ability to cause unexpected, instant and devastating damage from any position.
In the process of his devastating beating of Glover Teixeira, Jon Jones repeatedly enhanced his striking with wrestling techniques. While Jones did not originate the concept of wrestle-striking, he stands alone as this relatively new art's greatest exponent, both through his effective application and constant innovation.
Only time will tell what wrestle-striking innovations he will introduce in the future.