Jon Jones ended 2009 on a bittersweet note. After impressive showing against Stephan Bonnar at UFC 94 and Jake O'Brien at UFC 100, Jones met Matt Hamill in one of the featured bouts at the Ultimate Fighter 10 Finale. Halfway into the first round, Jones swept Hamill's left leg out from under him, driving Hamill hard into the mat, and dislocating his shoulder in the process. After quickly moving into mount, Jones pounded Hamill's face with a Donkey Kong assault of punches and elbows for over a minute. Unfortunately, in trying to convince referee Steve Mazzagatti to stop the fight, the last batch of elbows were of the "12-to-6" variety, illegal under the Unified Rules. With Hamill unable to continue due to the shoulder injury, Mazzagatti disqualified Jones for the infraction, commanding the first "L" be sewn on to the fighter's ledger.
In his first fight in 2010, Jones met Brandon Vera in the main event of the UFC's inaugural show on cable sports network Versus. Like Jones, Vera had been christened as the golden prospect early in his career. In 2006, he knocked out Frank Mir, his fourth consecutive finish as a heavyweight in as many UFC fights. Lengthy contract negotiations kept Vera out of the Octagon for eleven months, where he proceeded to drop back-to-back fights to Tim Sylvia and Fabricio Werdum. The losses necessitated a drop to light heavyweight, where he went an unimpressive 3-2 leading up to the fight with Jones.
Where dozens of strikes failed to garner a stoppage against Hamill, Jones needed just one elbow to put Vera away. At the three minute mark, Jones postured up in Vera's guard and came down with the elbow of God on the right side of Vera's face. With his orbital bone no longer in a single piece, Vera had no other recourse but cover up and wait for Herb Dean's stoppage.
Four months later, Jones returned to the friendly confines of Versus to fight Vladimir Matyushenko. Matyushenko had compiled a 24-4 record through his 13 years in the sport, with Tito Ortiz, Andrei Arlovski, and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira as his only losses in the 21st century. A minute into the fight, Matyushenko, a former two-time national junior college champion in freestyle wrestling, found himself staring up at Jones from the mat. Jones patiently passed into side control and locked Matyushenko in a mounted crucifix. Jones brandished his machine-gun elbows, forcing Herb Dean to call an end to the bout.
Jones is scheduled to fight Ryan Bader at UFC 126 in February. A victory over the undefeated Bader would set Jones up for an even bigger 2011.
Full results after the jump.
|Junior dos Santos||1.3|
|Ovince St. Preux||0.7|