(That reminds us, if you’re ever sitting next to Jon Jones on an airplane and his elbow is crowding your armrest, you’d better just let him have it. Photo courtesy of MMAFighting.com.)
— $40,000 performance bonuses were handed out to some very worthy recipients after last night’s UFC Live: Jones vs. Matyushenko event. Scoring the Knockout of the Night bonus was Takanori Gomi, who starched Tyson Griffin 64 seconds into their fight with a sledgehammer right hook. The Submission of the Night went to Charles Oliveira, who owned Darren Elkins with a masterful triangle-armbar in another dramatic quick finish during the prelims. Fight of the Night bonuses went to Brian Stann and Mike Massenzio for their unaired preliminary bout. Stann battled back from an early deficit to finish Massenzio via third-round triangle choke. It was the first submission win of Stann’s career.
(Above: Jon Jones works the pads with Phil Nurse in front of onlookers in Las Vegas. Below: Vladimir Matyushenko does nothing with nobody in front of no one somewhere. Photos courtesy of Sherdog.)
Jones and Matyushenko. Rogan and Goldie. Munoz and Okami. Arianny and the other girl. Gomi and Griffin. Big John McCarthy (!), assuming he hasn’t been completely relegated to the dark card. It’s been far too long since the UFC has graced us with their presence — particularly on free TV — and it feels good to be hanging with the old gang again. Live round-by-round results from the Versus broadcast will be piling up after the jump starting at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT. Refresh your browser every few minutes for all the latest, and leave us your insightful feedback in the comments section. And please, no unrelated comments about how boring Jake Shields is. At least for one night. Come on, guys, let’s be adults here.
("Look, you know I don’t want to do this, Vladimir, but this bald dude insists I pretty much kick your ass in every way imaginable. Sorry." PicProps: UFC.com)
If we’re going to be honest about it, we have to admit that Jon Jones vs. Vladimir Matyushenko is a fight no one really wanted to see. It’s certainly not the fight fans wanted, it’s not the fight Jones wanted and it’s probably not a fight Matyushenko is particularly looking forward to, either. Yet, here we are, just a few hours removed from another fight we all expect Jones to win by some manner of swift and comprehensive destruction.
Of course, it’s no secret what’s going on here. The UFC, for pretty obvious reasons, wants to build Jones into its next great light heavyweight star and it thinks the best way to do that is to give him as many chances as possible to whip ass on free TV. It’s a sound strategy but also a risky one and frankly, it’s an approach that’s kind of starting to piss everybody off.
(Warning: Do not try this at home. Listening to traditional Russian folk music while doing power cleans should only be performed by professionals. VidProps: YouTube/MMAWarehouse)
If the main event of tonight’s UFC Live on Versus fight card plays out like we all think it’s going to, Vladimir Matyushenko is likely going to need some moral support. Matyushenko’s methodical, wrestling-based style seems tailor made for exploitation by the younger, faster, more dynamic Jon Jones. At least that’s what UFC matchmakers are counting on (more on that later today). Bottom line: It doesn’t look good on paper for “The Janitor,” so if Matyushenko ends up getting beat up kind of badly tonight it would serve us all well to remember that he is actually a totally awesome dude who deserves a ton of respect.
(Go ahead, write untruths about this man. See what happens …)
Almost by definition, the media conference calls that fight companies stage before major events are pretty tedious affairs. On rare occasions, the stars align and they can turn into total shitshows where something interesting actually happens, but usually you just end up sitting on the phone for 45 minutes while different writers ask the same questions over and over and the athletes repeatedly mumble the same prepared responses.
Unfortunately, last week’s reporter cattle call for Sunday’s UFC Live on Versus event was no different. In fact, it was perhaps even more monotonous after first being interrupted by a fire alarm at the conference center (seriously) and then when Jon Jones and Vladimir Matyushenko spent the whole time trying to out nice-guy each other. The only halfway illuminating or unexpected exchange occurred nearly 35 minutes in, when a reporter from Fox Twin Cities-Minneapolis asked Jones about reports a couple months back that he had balked at the chance to fight Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 114.
If you’re unsure whether or not Sunday Night’s UFC Live on Versus: Jones vs. Matyushenko is worth tuning into, here’s some food for thought:
A) It’s free. Even if the card turns into a boring cuddlefest (which is highly unlikely considering the amount of firepower on the card) what else do you have to do on a Sunday night? If you answered "Watch Desperate Housewives," you may as well hand in your CP membership now and just walk away slowly and forget we ever had this imaginary online conversation. Seriously, that’s probably your best solution.
B) A few contenders could secure their places in line for a title shot in the near future. Jon Jones is obviously on the trajectory to a shot as early as next year and UFC president Dana White revealed on ESPN’s Inside MMA that it’s about time Yushin Okami had his day in the sun, whether it be a rematch with Anderson Silva or with former opponent-turned training partner Chael Sonnen.
C) The main card is more stacked than it might appear to the casual fan. You have a former IFL champ in Matyushenko, a former PRIDE champ in Gomi, a pair of knockout artists in Howard and Ellenberger and a handful of potential title contenders. What more can the UFC do to entertain you?
If you’re still on the fence, check out these videos that feature the fighters on the main card of Sunday’s show and you’ll likely change your mind.
(More pre-fight hype from the main eventers. Matyushenko doesn’t mind being the underdog, and vows to give Jones hell every second of the fight. Bones wants to be something that Vlad’s never seen before. Props: YouTube.com/UFC)
Bryant (starting at 1:02): "[You and Jon Jones] have been doing a lot of press, and pretty much the storyline is ‘experience vs. youth’. How do you feel about that, and do you feel that that’s really the decisive thing going in here?"
Matyushenko: "Well it’s not only that, experience and youth, it’s just like…black and white."
I know, right? Athletic explosiveness vs. hard-working blue-collar-ness. Finally, somebody says what we’re all thinking!
Okay, maybe Vlad was trying to make reference to their vastly different styles (or not, it’s kind of hard to tell). Anyway, this MMA H.E.A.T. interview is also noteworthy because Karyn asks the Janitor who he wants to fight next, even though she clearly realizes it’s a big no-no (skip to the 3:14 mark). For the record, he likes to take things fight by fight (shocking), but he wouldn’t mind avenging his losses to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Tito Ortiz. His entrance music on Sunday, as usual, will be "Deaf Forever."