NEWARK, NEW JERSEY — Jon “Bones” Jones has all the tools to become the youngest UFC champion in history.
But the 23-year-old’s cockiness could be his downfall.
The Douce has been talking to tonnes of fight fans from all over North America in the days leading up to UFC 128 in Newark, New Jersey.
I’ve asked all of them who they like in the title fight between Jones and light heavyweight champ Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. And so far only a few have picked Shogun, and they were all of Brazilian heritage.
It seems just about everyone believes this fight is basically a gimme for the young phenom.
Bryan Lawson, who travelled from Florida to see his third UFC event, was at the weigh-ins Friday and said he’s picking Jones to win.
“He’s a young guy, a new breed, he’s faster, stronger, just all-round,” he said. “Shogun is more experienced and has better jiujitsu, but I just think Jon Jones is the whole package.”
“I firmly believe he’s the future of the UFC in that division,” Lawson added.
What’s astonishing is that until last month, Jones wasn’t even slated to be in the title belt. He was only granted the shot after Rashad Evans was injured.
And yet, there’s been so much talk about Rua’s 10-month reign coming to an end that Jones has already convinced himself he’s won.
The Rochester native has been signing autographs this week, “Jon Jones Champion 2011.”
Speaking through his translator to UFC commentator Joe Rogan, Rua said he has no issues with Jones being cocky, but signing autographs as though he’s already won the fight is “disrespectful.”
It may end up being just the fuel Shogun needs to take Jones out.
“I still have the belt,” Rua said. “And I don’t plan to give it up.”
Shogun, who has taken down some big-time fighters, is a powerful striker who has knocked out 16 of the 19 opponents he’s beaten. If he manages to plant one of those knock-out punches on Jones’ chin, it will be lights out.
However, in order to land one of those punches, Rua must get passed the longest reach in the UFC.
Jones’ reach is 84.5 inches, 10.5 inches longer than Rua’s. Combine that awesome reach with his athleticism, stamina and wrestling ability and Jones is a truly dangerous fighter.
Rua also is coming off knee surgery and he hasn’t fought since he won the belt by beating Lyoto Machida last May. While Rua claims neither is an issue, it’s hard to believe one or the other won’t cause him problems when the chips are down.
As much as I like rooting for the underdog, The Douce has to be a follower on this one and take Jones to win.
The other fight I’m looking forward to is the match-up of Urijah “The California Kid” Faber and Eddie Wineland.Wineland is dangerous on his feet, but look for Faber to take him to the ground and possibly end up with the submission of the night.
“I’ve never been knocked out. I’ve never been submitted.” Faber said this week on UFC.com.“He’s not really a threat to me, but I’m definitely a threat to him.” However, Wineland is convinced he’ll get the upset and knock The California Kid out. “Everybody I’ve ever fought who has said they’ve never been knocked out has either been rocked or dropped,” he said on UFC.com. “I’m going to pick him apart and I’m going to finish him.”
There’s many other great fights on the card, too many to mention.
It promises to be an explosive night and The Douce will be at the Prudential Center watching every moment of the action, so I can tell you all about it afterward.