With his recent successful defense of his UFC Light Heavy Weight title, most MMA fans can’t help but discuss who is next for Jon ‘Bones’ Jones. Is there a challenger that would pose credible threat to the champion? Is there anyone in the present UFC roster that has the potential to finish, grind out or even hurt Jones, en route to dethroning the future pound per pound MMA king?
Jon ‘Bones’ Jones has got the longest reach in UFC. His reach of 84.5 inches beats the 83 inch reach of 6’11 heavy weight Stefan Struve. He’s got a solid Greco Roman wrestling background that handled elite wrestlers such as Matt Hamill and Ryan Bader. He has an alpha-male-type choke hold that tapped Bader and Jake O’Brien. He has punishing elbows, ground and pound, and a very controlled top game, which he applied on Brandon Vera and Vladimir Matyushenko. He has effective striking that destroyed both MMA legends, Shogun Rua and Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson. Furthermore, he has masterminds for coaches.
So, how do you beat Jon Jones?
In boxing, to beat a fighter with long reach, you have to be an ‘in-fighter.’ In MMA however, ducking and weaving is not as easy. You will have to take punches, elbows, kicks, knees, clinch and takedowns in consideration. But to stay focused on how to beat Jones, the first key would be to get close to him. Getting close to Jones takes out his reach advantage and will perhaps lessen the striking assault that he applies with distance. At close range, you can throw short punches to the body and head. Whether successful with the strikes or not, it would then be a matter of time until he resorts to wrestling.
The second key would be to not avoid his wrestling. You will have to take him down, or get taken down. Obviously, the latter is more likely, so once taken down; apply immediate, offensive, aggressive Jiu Jitsu. Do not wait for the elbows to come down. Quickly go for sweeps, rubber guard, arm isolation or attack his leg – ala Rousimar Palhares.
Although Jones has wicked ground and pound, it seems that he is at his most vulnerable when on the ground. His long limbs are ideal for Jiu Jitsu experts. He can easily get caught in an arm or foot lock if he is not careful. If you look closely, his ankles are actually protruding – as if it’s begging for a Ryo Chonan heel hook. If Jones opts to stand up, rinse and repeat. You will have to go constantly for the finish as you are likely to lose a decision doing this. But then, to be a champion, you have to beat the champion.
Rashad Evans will not be given much of a chance when he faces Jones. For Evans to win, he will have to be much faster than Jones. He will need to stick and move and ‘turn’ Jones at a dizzying pace. He will have to create scrambles when they are in a clinch. He will need an aggressive Jiu Jitsu guard for when he is in the bottom.
Evans will need to fight for the top position when they are grappling. Once on top, if he hasn’t already, he will need to move to side control. Side control for Jones is dire. His long limbs will be susceptible to crucifix control and kimuras. Again, speed is the key for Evans.
With Anderson Silvas’ Boxing, Muay Thai and good Jiu Jitsu guard, he may pose the most threat for Jones. He’s got experience, patience and the power to knock anyone out in the LHW and MW division. He is however, 36 years of age. It is probably the first time where he’ll have the shorter reach. Will those be a factor if they fight sometime in the future? Will they ever fight? Only time will tell.
With the possibility of Jones moving to heavy weight in the future, Cain Velasquez may be the likely candidate to face the champ. Velasquez is agile, relentless and has a menacing ground and pound. He too poses a threat to Jon Jones. He will be aggressive on his take down attempts, and more often than not, will have success in doing so. We will see Jones on the defensive, and we may see how he deals with adversity.
Of course for now, making money by cleaning out the division is a decision we cannot blame the UFC or Jones for.
Jon ‘Bones’ Jones, at the end of it all will be one of the greatest fighters that ever set foot in the octagon. He’s got the physical advantage, the skills and coaches – that might as well be war tacticians. If he stays hungry, focused, dedicated and alert on articles such as this, he will remain unbeaten.