You are reading the words of one very pleased columnist.
As a sports writer, I try my best to keep an unbiased judgement when reporting. However, with too much of that comes a boring column. It’s no secret I’m a Jon Jones and Anderson Silva fan. With that I say…Holy crap!
This Saturdays UFC 126 card was one of the most star studded in history. Featuring current and former champions Anderson Silva, Forrest Griffin, Rich Franklin, Vitor Belfort and Miguel Torres were all competing on the card. However, Jon Jones and Ryan Bader were one of the focal points of the evening, and their contest wound up having MAJOR implications.
Jones’ wrestling ability has been called into question at times, being that he is from a Junior College wrestling background. Bader comes from Arizona State University, and was ranked as high as fourth in the country in high school. Many thought Bader would have an upper hand in the wrestling department.
This notion was quickly negated however as Jon Jones took Bader down with ease, and went to work on a North-South choke that wasn’t successful, but clearly depleted Bader’s gas tank. This continued into the second round, with Jones also sporadically landing some big strikes on the feet. Jones once again secured a takedown, and earned a submission victory with a straight guillotine choke from the top.This submission is difficult for many to pull off from the top, but for the 23 year old Jones, no problem. The length of his arms give him the prime opportunity to be able to lock that in on much smaller competitors that fight within the 205 division…but Jon Jones’ night was not over.
Joe Rogan entered the octagon for the customary post-fight interview with Jon ‘Bones’ Jones. We were all notified that number one contender (and Jones’ teammate) “Sugar” Rashad Evans suffered a knee injury that would prevent him from competing in six weeks against Shogun Rua. We then learned the UFC has selected Jones to replace his teammate in that Main Event bout. Jon Jones gladly accepted.
Some wonder if the quick turnaround will pose an issue for Jones. When asked if he suffered any damage during the matchup, he quipped “I stubbed my toe on the way to the octagon.” Something tells me he’ll be just fine. Jones had already been studying the mannerisms and fights of Rua in order to help Evans train for the fight.
Elsewhere within the 205 pound light heavyweight division, fan favorites Forrest Griffin and Rich Franklin squared off. Many expected a slugfest, but were instead treated to the much larger Griffin working his strikes from inside Franklin’s closed guard. The assumed strategy being the heavier Griffin would wear down Franklin, and it seemed to work. The later rounds turned more into a standup game, which the younger Forrest took control of. While I had him winning all three rounds, he took a 29-28 unanimous decision victory. Look for him to take on possibly Stephan Bonnar in a third bout, a win could put him back into the very crowded title picture. Rampage Jackson also recently stated he’d rather face Forrest Griffin in a re-match than have a title shot, so that’s always a possibility.
The Main event of the evening pitted Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva, riding a 13 fight winning streak…holding multiple consecutive victories record, against former Light Heavweight Champion Vitor Belfort. Vitor was looked at as a legit threat to stop Silva with his lighting fast strikes. This is a guy who blasted Wanderlei Silva with at least 16 unanswered standing strikes in under four seconds. Coming off of five consecutive wins, many thought Vitor’s head was finally back where it needed to be.
Well now Vitor Belfort’s head isn’t in the right place. It’s rolling around somewhere in Las Vegas. After the feeling out process was complete, and a few minor exchanges occurred, Anderson Silva completely lampooned Belfort’s face with a front kick, knocking him silly, and finishing the challenger.
Ladies and gentleman, I’ve watched thousands of fights. Boxing, Kickboxing, MMA. Even that ridiculous “X Arm” junk where they tape peoples arm’s together and kick and punch each other in the face. I have NEVER witnessed a kick quite like this. Due to copyright reasons from Zuffa, I can’t show you this kick. However, I assure you that it took place exactly as follows.
Almost, anyway. So what’s next for Anderson Silva? Looks like that will be answered very soon. April 30th, actually. I feel confident in answering this now though. Anderson Silva will be fighting Georges St Pierre before the end of 2011. Whether GSP wins or loses against Jake Shields (WINS), a move up to 185 will be the logical next step for GSP. I look for this to be the biggest box office draw in MMA history, even topping the astronomical numbers pulled in for Brock Lesnar fights.
The skill set in which GSP possesses is extremely threatening for Silva. He has everything that Chael Sonnen has… Only better….and faster…and more technical….and without steroids….and money laundering. GSP has the ability to stand with nearly anyone, and owns some very excellent, possibly Olympic level wrestling. On the other hand, Silva has a skill set that is dangerous to absolutely anyone, of any weight class. We will cover this more as it progresses.
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