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MMA

Jones vs. Johnson – Flawless Technique vs. Breathtaking Power

Rumble finishing Gustafsson off (Jessica Gow, AP)

The Aftermath with Dane Curley from Today’s Knockout

All eyes look to the future after UFC Stockholm – Gustafsson vs. Johnson. It was known then, and is clear now, that its Main Event winner would fight for the UFC Light-Heavyweight Championship. With most fans predicting an Alexander Gustafsson victory, as he fought to his own crowd of 30,000+ fans, a confusing silence fell upon Sweden and the MMA world at event’s end.

Standing above him, after a blur of tank-denting punches, was Anthony Johnson, known best as Rumble. Gone were the hopes of a rematch between champion Jon Jones and the adversary who gave him his most challenging title defense. In their place are new hopes: that the breathtaking power of Rumble Johnson will be Jon Jones’s reckoning. Those dreams are probably unfounded.

Most people are working the equation as A + B = C. That’s not the case. Just because Rumble Johnson beat the man that almost beat the champ, doesn’t mean he has as good a chance of beating the champ, too.

For one, not everybody was as starry eyed about Gustafsson winning as the majority. My money was on Rumble, literally. It wasn’t a Floyd Mayweather sized bet, but it was what I had in the bookie account at the time. The point is: I was clear-headed enough to acknowledge that Gustafsson, while an interesting match vs. Jones – is not necessarily a world-beater as he compares to other fighters.

It’s the dead horse that keeps getting beat up in combat sports: styles make fights.

Gustafsson’s rangy style is perfect to counter Jones’s. For me, that didn’t mean he would execute well against a bull-rushing ravager like Rumble. In fact, Gus’ hadn’t ever been in the cage with Top-5 guys, except for his stellar performance against the division’s king. We hadn’t seen him against a diverse cast of fighters, and now we know he has things to improve. Jones, on the other hand, has seen everything – and beat it all down.

Jon Jones has flawless technique. At least, he has it as far as anyone can have it that’s expending energy at a high, sustained pace throughout five 5-minute rounds.

That technical skill is not the only reason this heel is our champion, but it is the most important one. Yes, his size, work-ethic, training staff, genetics, strategizing, and attitude all play a role. But his brain is hardwired for shooting off shins and elbows at any range, accurately and devastatingly. To say that the power of Rumble is the answer for this creature of perfection (and I mean that strictly in terms of that creature’s ability to fight in MMA) would be a stretch.

One thing we’ll have to manage as we move forward, discussing this inevitable bout between the #1-contender and the champ, is how we weigh emotions beside logic. When Gustafsson lost, the bulk of the MMA community lost their answer to Jones. To save their aching hearts, they picked up a new one in Rumble. It’s not completely illogical… it’s just… well, no one is really thinking about it, yet!

We’re still in the mourning period, in the wake of Alexander’s defeat. We still have the image of him crying in front of his peers, on his knees, with half a clue in his mind as to what happened, after a barrage of ground-and-pound uppercuts. To properly assess the future match, we’ll need to take stock of Rumble Johnson’s weaknesses.

He definitely has them, and Jonny Bones already sees them.



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