("I’m sorry, what were you saying?" PicProps: MMAConvert)
Despite some brief reports to the contrary and recent scenes of the two acting a bit too chummy for a couple of guys about to fight in a cage, Jon Jones and Ryan Bader are now a lock to do battle at UFC 126 in February, the company confirmed on Friday during its “Ultimate Insider” web show. And here you thought the internet was just for scumbags and for-profit axe-grinders trying to further their own agendas.
Confirmation of Jones vs. Bader is good news on a lot of fronts, but especially because (even though no one wants to admit it) the once vaunted light heavyweight division needs some serious help right now. The champ continues to be hampered by his own fragility. Chuck is done. Tito is so done he doesn’t even know it yet. Randy is opting for a soft retirement in order to avoid becoming the next Brett Favre. During the last three years the belt has been passed around like HPV at a barbecue at Whitehead’s. Frankly it ain’t pretty down at light heavy right now. This division desperately needs somebody to come along and put the belt on lockdown and the two guys with the best chance to do that just might be Jonny Bones and Bader. It ain’t gonna be Roger Nog, we know that much.
It’s also good because, well, fans want to see it and because both Jones and Bader sorely need to be tested in the Octagon. The UFC has so far proven incapable or unwilling to put Jones in the cage with anyone who could put so much as a scratch on him and, while less dynamic, Bader has certainly been similarly effective. For either guy to take the jump to “the next level” they need to get by each other. Though honestly – just calling it like I see it here – either of these dudes probably runs through Rampage, FoGriff or Rashad tomorrow if given the chance.
Jones says he’s sick of fighting other wrestlers, but for the time being the UFC remains steadfast in its desire to keep him away from any of the guys mentioned above. Bader seems like an agreeable sort who keeps his opinions to himself and will fight anyone the UFC tells him to fight. In other words, he’s Dana’s kind of guy.
There was a short period of concern that Jones and Bader wouldn’t be able to make their schedules mesh … like, what? They have other stuff to do? Now that it’s signed, sealed and delivered, this fight makes a welcome addition to the UFC’s monster Super Bowl weekend show also expected to feature Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort, Griffin vs. Rich Franklin and Evan Dunham vs. Kenny Florian. That’s a keeper, right there.