It’s going down. This Saturday night has that special tingly feeling about it. That feeling that only comes around once in a blue moon in today’s MMA landscape. Ever since the “Year of the Superfight” was declared, I was expecting this combat sports induced sensation to be occurring on a monthly basis, but I can’t remember the last time I felt this way before a big fight. (Alright, maybe I lied, the last time I was this amped up for a fight it likely involved Anderson Silva…)
Arch-enemies and natural foils Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier will finally do the damn thing in the cage at UFC 182 in dusty Las Vegas. After raucous pre-fight antics and an unfortunate injury delay, the day is here and boy, it is going to be some kind of fun. That is, if you are a Daniel Cormier fan.
It’s obvious that the MMA community despises Jon Jones for his own meticulously combed persona. The fake righteousness accompanied by idiotic antics and seething hatred for Cormier, they guy just doesn’t fit into one of the classic athlete tropes that we are so used to. He’s not the flashy hype machine like Mayweather, nor the silent assassin that is Anderson Silva. He can’t touch GSP’s marketability, or Brock Lesnar’s brute force. He is a 27 year old kid that attempts to contain his brand, but in reality, should just let loose and embrace his inner “heel” nature. He IS the bad guy, but for some reason he is compelled to be some sort of evangelical superhero. It ain’t working, buddy.
While those of us that follow this crazy sport offer disdain for Jon Jones the man, we can’t ignore that Jon Jones the fighter is likely the baddest man walking this Earth. Jonathan Snowden even penned up this sizzler of a piece saying Jones is the best to ever do it… Jon has obliterated his competition and seen no man besides a lanky Swede be able to test him. That changes Saturday.
Daniel Cormier has every characteristic necessary to defeat the pound for pound champ. He is far and away the greatest wrestler Jones has ever faced. (If you don’t believe me, check out this incredible piece by Shaun Al-Shatti about Real Pro Wrestling, where Cormier started down the road to the goal that he will finally achieve on Saturday.) Cormier has ragdolled just about everyone he has come to contact with in the cage. The man grapples on a daily basis with one of the few wrestlers to defeat him in global competition. And Cain Velasquez. The guy looks like some sort experiment that the Eastern Bloc produced to dominate grappling and yet he now works at AKA helping Cormier prepare for a Junior College All American. You see where I’m going with this? EMBRACE THE GRIND.
The wrestling skill difference is obvious, but many counter with the fact that Jones’ striking is otherworldly. While this is hard to dispute, does Jon Jones actually have true power in his strikes? I mean, I don’t really remember the guy ever giving someone the one strike nap-time shot. (Maybe Shogun, but a stiff Western wind can take out Shogun these days…) He strikes with volume, precision, and creativity, but I don’t see him being able to put Cormier out with one shot. Thus, Cormier should be able to get inside and wrap his arms around the skinnier, thinner Jones and send him for a ride or two. Or six. As UFC handyman Burt Watson says, “ALL NIGHT LONG, BABY!!!”
I truly see Cormier using any combination of his wrestling prowess to get grind on Jones, duck a shot or two, and chuck the chicken legged Jones around the cage for 25 minutes. In this fight, Jones’ size and reach may work AGAINST him. The stout Cormier will prove to be like the last boulder on that World’s Strongest Man contest where the have to place the boulders on the pillars. Too heavy, too strong, too skilled. If Cormier can keep constant pressure on Jones, move him back to the cage, keep him outside of his traditional striking distance, this could be, as the kids say, “light work” for Cormier.
It may not be pretty. Hell, it probably won’t be very entertaining to the “casual” fan that will likely shell out for this fight, but Saturday night is going to be a decimation of the champion. He will have wished he stuck to that Division 1 wrestling path, as DC is coming down the road and not a man alive could stop him.
Saturday night, we’ll have a new UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. Will Jon Jones get a chance to regain his belt? For damn sure. Will I pay my hard earned cash to watch him and Cormier clash again? For damn sure.