Who's Glover Teixeira? I thought this was Jones vs. Champagndanii.
I almost believe Dana could sell this fight. After all, "It's the fight business. You don't get to pick your battles!" I've always sort of resented the fact that I can't just talk about Jon Jones, the fighter. Instead I have to talk about how Jones needs to be sold, whether he should turn heel, and why BE has over 700 reader contributions with Ariel Helwani to chime in on whether or not Jones really had his phone hacked/stolen/freeze dried over an Instagram beef with a kid.
Of all the bizarre kentucky fried stories in MMA, this one might take the cake and never return with it. It's all kind of unavoidable though. it's amusing, but it's also exhausting. Jones just might go down as the greatest fighter to ever live, and my first thought is concerned about whether Jones is a professional fighter by day, Instagram troll against Swedish gay teenagers by night.
All I know is that this Glover dude is dangerous!
And therein lies the rub. Superior writers and observers have pointed and continue to point it out, but why the UFC feels like it needs to sell every fight like the dude nobody knew about is dark and mysterious, and could easily win the belt is anyone's guess.
Actually, I think there's a reasonable explanation toe the counterintuitive matchmaking. MMA has been burned a lot when it comes to banking on stars only to see those stars succumb to upsets. That statement probably isn't even true, but remember when the underdog ruled the world in 2007? That had to leave a mark. The UFC probably never recovered from those cold feet. Incompetence is a better explanation, but that theory seems sexier.
I thought Jones lost his title to Alexander Gustafsson?
I had zero problem with the decision for Alexander. Anytime a champ experiences duress, Rogan and Goldberg will make sure to mold it into a narrative so packed with assumptions and predictions that the viewers at home don't have time to breath for any competing narrative (see Machida vs. Shogun 1). I don't mind Rogan, but this is definitely his most significant flaw.
It's worth noting that Jones looked more human than he ever has, but it was also an affirmation of his sustained dominance in the sport: even with Alex pitching the shut out so to speak, it still wasn't enough.
So about this Brazilian dude with the name of a Bond villain and an appearance to match...
Glover is an interesting case study in prospect development; he's 34, and only now getting the spotlight. Watching him early on, he had the look of a Wanderlei Silva type with vicious striking to match, and yet he had all kinds of grappling cred; NAGA, Grappler's Quest, ADCC, etc. So he's well rounded to say the least.
When he finally got his shot at the big time, he made the most of it, beating Kyle Kingsbury, viciously dispatching Fabio Maldonado in an all time classic beatdown, and ultimately Quinton Jackson in his most high profile win.
Glover is +435! What am I waiting for?
It's pretty fitting. And this despite Connor's excellent breakdown on Jones' biggest flaws.
I'd like to talk about a few of his points. It's true that Jones utilizes the "Thai block" too much in his fights since training with Winkeljohn. Against Glover, who has a unique but fundamentally sound way of pressuring opponents, this could be the absolute difference. In addition, Glover's defense leaves him susceptible to the left hook from the traditional stance. Or at least, when he has been caught, this is typically the type of punch that catches him. Jones has no left hook to speak of (at least compared to the rest of his arsenal).
However, I don't think this is a sign of regression. Connor is correct in identifying some of the bad habits he's picked up on the feet, but he's picked up some good habits too. His spinning attacks are much more precise, and dynamic and these are exactly the kind of moves that confound fighters who keep their attack traditional. His kicks are much improved, and he's proven himself a highly adaptable competitor.
While he's flawed from a technical perspective, he's a supernatural improviser. You don't see him fall to the same type of offense over and over. Glover, meanwhile, has a predictable gameplan. Right hand, left hook, some takedowns, brilliant guard passing if it's there, rinse and repeat.
That makes Glover a very good fighter, but you need to be more than that to beat Jones.
The other thing is age; Glover is 34, so while that number won't mean anything if you were born in a Team Quest mobile, it's hardly the norm. I suspect his durability will wane as the fight progresses, and I'm not confident Glover will take Jones' best Sunday punch. Especially strikes landing down the middle, like Jon's front kick. Despite being technically sound, with a nice right to the body that's often followed by an even better left hook to the head, he leaves himself wide open.
Rogan and Goldberg will talk endlessly about how explosive and athletic Jones is. But it's his scouting prowess and intelligence in the ring that makes him so special. And that will be all the difference.
Prediction: Jon Jones by TKO (front kick), round 4.