“No, your breath does not smell like doodoo. Don’t say that, Quinton”. (Photo: UFC.com)
There are some folks who believe that you’re not really a champion until you successfully defend your belt. For those of you who agree, meet Jon Jones, UFC Light Heavyweight Champion.
“Bones” did whatever he wanted from the opening bell, starting the fight crouched in a Bloodsport-inspired fighting stance (and yes, Steven Seagal is a little butthurt over that). From that moment his unorthodoxy never waned. Spinning elbows and kicks are common weapons in his arsenal, and he seemed as comfortable throwing them as ever. Jones shows no fear of what damage his opponent might do should he miss or leave himself open, and at this point it looks like we may never find out. According to FightMetric, Rampage failed to land a single power shot to the head. We’re all eager to laud Jones as the future of his division and the man to bring stability to 205lbs, and with good reason, but dammit I still want to see him get popped in the jaw a few times before we weld that belt around his waist.
As for Rampage, I thought his defense looked exceptional. For a guy “mesmerized” by Jones’ offense, he showed us that spinning elbows and kicks look a lot less impressive when they miss, and he ducked quite a few of them in this bout. He also managed to avoid several of those fancy trips and throws as well. I bet a lot of Memphis-based facial reconstructive surgeons were grinning ear-to-ear when Jones secured the mount, but Rampage showed some skill off his back in shucking the champion off and working to his feet. As for his offense…well, it was his usual two-pronged attack of lefts and rights. Sure, he threw out a token leg kick or two, but the versatility he showed in the Hamill fight was gone. Then again, a fight against Jon Jones may not be the best time to throw away your tried and true weapons in favor of a little experimentation. I expected a slow, flat-footed Rampage to get thoroughly worked over by a well-rounded fighter last night, and though he didn’t put the champ in any danger, I think he looked as good as anyone can against Jones at this point in time.
Damn, how much does Matt Hughes love to compete? The man has nothing left to fight for other than fighting itself, and at age 37, following his second consecutive first round knock out, he still can’t bring himself to retire. In a day when many fighters fight to protect their record or simply to collect a check, it’s nice to see someone step into the cage purely for a love of the game. But at the same time, the game he loves has changed. As much as Goldy and Rogan were celebrating the performance of “K1 Hughes” last night, I just didn’t see it. His jabs and left hooks may have succeeded in making Koscheck weary of his right eye, but they won’t succeed in putting away top competition, and for an aging wrestler in a division full of great wrestlers that spells trouble. When Kos started throwing his hands, that became clear once again. Hughes isn’t retiring, but he is placing himself “on a shelf”. That shelf holds numerous UFC records, countless belts, and an incredible legacy, and I think it’s a perfect place for him at this stage in his career.
It was hard for me to watch Mark Hunt and Ben Rothwell without thinking back to Dan Severn vs. Tank Abbott, which also went down in Denver back in 1995. If you didn’t catch that fight, there’s no rush to see it. The same goes for this one. I’ll cut them a little slack because they’re big boys fighting at altitude, but that doesn’t make it any prettier to watch. Joe Silva, when scheduling their next bouts, please consider a more suitable venue.
Gomi’s offense consisted solely of swinging that wild right for a one-punch knockout, and that proved to be a poor gameplan against a guy known for unrelenting combos. Diaz mixed in some heavy hands with the trademark Diaz “Stockton Slaps”, dropping Gomi early in the first. “The Fireball Kid” popped back up, but the punches kept coming. Diaz’s hands found their home again and again until Gomi took him down, but the former Pride champion found no refuge on the mat. Diaz instantly sunk in a triangle choke before switching to an armbar to elicit the tap. It was an impressive return to lightweight for the Cesar Gracie protege. This is Gomi’s second straight loss and his third in four fights, but with the UFC heading back to Japan he’s unlikely to be cut.
Full results (via AdCombat.com)
Jon Jones def. Quinton Jackson via Submission (rear naked choke) at 1:14, R4
Josh Koscheck def. Matt Hughes via KO (punches) at 4:59, R1
Mark Hunt def. Ben Rothwell via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-27, 30-27) at 5:00, R3
Travis Browne def. Rob Broughton via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) at 5:00, R3
Nate Diaz def. Takanori Gomi via Submission (armbar) at 4:27, R1.
Tony Ferguson def. Aaron Riley via TKO (Corner Stoppage) at 5:00, R1
Tim Boetsch defeated Nick Ring via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27) at 5:00, R3
Junior Assunção def. Eddie Yagin via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27) at 5:00, R3
Takeya Mizugaki def. Cole Escovedo via TKO (punches) at 4:30, R2
James Te Huna def. Ricardo Romero via KO (punches) at 0:47, R1
- Chris Colemon (@chriscolemon)