Okay, so "Heavyweights" wasn’t the best season of The Ultimate Fighter we’ve seen. Let’s be honest: Project Runway had a more talented group of fighters this year, and there weren’t as many divas. But tonight’s finale card will still give us a very entertaining night of fights, with two worthy TUF finalists, Kimbo Slice’s (possibly) last stand, and the always exciting Jon Jones looking to launch to the next level against Matt Hamill. Round-by-round updates from the TUF 10 Finale are after the jump; refresh the page every few minutes for all the latest. We begin our evening’s entertainment with a grudge match between two ex-football players…
"I’m trying to put myself in his head, see what he sees," said Jones. "It also helps to not be influenced by the commentary. Sometimes you hear [UFC color commentator Joe Rogan] say stuff like, ‘What a huge right hand,’ and it changes the way you see things. I want to know what he’s seeing when he looks at me and figure out what he might try to do. Without the sound, you really see a lot more of the details that you usually miss."
That’s one way of getting in your opponent’s head. Jones also talked about his grueling training camp at Greg Jackson’s gym, saying he now feels like Rashad Evans and Keith Jardine are his "big brothers." Guess that means there’s one more Jackson’s camp guy who absolutely, positively won’t fight his teammates for any amount of money. Somewhere, steam is coming out of Dana White’s ears.
Those of you who are Fight Magazine subscribers probably already have your copy of the December issue. The rest of you freeloaders will just have to go down to Borders and read it in the bathroom like the rest of the homeless people. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Now that you’re back, you’ve probably noticed that in addition to a hilarious feature about athletes taunting each other in the cage, this issue also features a cover story on Jon Jones by yours truly. In order to write this bad boy, I flew to Montreal to meet Jones during his stay at the Tri-Star gym a couple of months out from his fight against Matt Hamill at this weekend’s TUF finale. The only problem was that once I got to Montreal, I found out that Jones was still at home in Ithaca, NY.
"It’s just my opinion that he uses steroids. That’s it…I can’t hand you any proof, but that’s my opinion…In my opinion, he doesn’t play by the rules when it comes to steroids and growth hormones and that stuff. Look at him. He’s the worst. He looks like that every day. That’s cheating. There is a reason why there are rules against using steroids. The rest of us, we get fat, then we train and get skinny and the cycle goes over and over again. He looks the same way all the time. Come on.”
“I think Machida is getting a lot of hype, and I know he has lots of big wins over a lot of big fighters, and a lot of experience over me. I don’t think he’s Christ; I think he’s very beatable. They’re looking at him and his karate like he’s Bruce Lee. He’s not Bruce Lee…I honestly believe that a great Muay Thai champion will beat a great karate fighter any day; it’s been proven on lots of occasions.
Between his unstoppable takedowns and wildly unorthodox YouTube-influenced striking, Jon Jones has caught the attention of many UFC fans, who see him as one of the future stars of the light-heavyweight division. And after his one-sided mollywhopping of Stephan Bonnar at UFC 94 in January, he’ll be getting another big name to prove himself against. TheGarv has confirmed that Jones will compete next at UFC 100 (July 11th, Las Vegas) where he’ll take on former heavyweight Jake O’Brien. Known primarily as a wrestler, O’Brien most recently won a split-decision over Christian Wellisch during his light-heavyweight debut at UFC 94; before signing with the UFC, he racked up a 7-0 record with all wins by first-round T/KO, but he hasn’t won a fight by stoppage since August 2006. Jones would certainly seem to have an advantage in the standup, and if he can neutralize O’Brien’s wrestling — a very likely scenario — it’ll be Jones’s fight to win.
I talked to Jon Jones for this week’s SI.com column, in which he discusses what it was like growing up with two brothers who both now play defensive line at Syracuse (with the eldest headed soon to the NFL) and how he learned to strike by watching YouTube videos:
The gym I train at is a really small gym, a lot of wrestlers, so I didn’t have a striking coach until this last fight. I had to teach myself how to strike. I would study a lot of videos on YouTube, or go to different websites where I could watch old Pride fights. I just became obsessed with MMA and watched videos over and over again. I learned the moves and took them to practice and started using them. Before I knew it I was considered a pretty good striker.
YouTube videos can really teach you a lot. It depends how you search for them. If you look really hard, you can find videos of seminars from some of the best fighters in the world. It’s just a matter of taking them seriously. You have the Bas Rutten’s and the Anderson Silva DVD’s, but you can find most of that stuff on the internet for free, so that’s what I was doing. I was basically teaching myself with them. Now I can honestly say I’ve been taught by some of the best teachers in the world because I’ve watched some of the greatest seminars online.
Obviously, Jones is a freakish athlete who can simply do things other people can’t, such as watch YouTube videos and then beat up UFC veterans. But what struck me was his humility and obsession with improving as a fighter. Check this quote, for example, on what went through his mind after the UFC offered him the fight with Bonnar:
Though most UFC fans think of Jon Jones as a guy who tends to put his opponents through three rounds of body-slamming, reverse-elbowing hell, he actually finished most of his pre-Octagon fights in short order. Above is his 15-second knockout of Parker Porter at a WCF event in Massachusetts last June. Just another reason to keep your hands up around this guy.