Clearly, Jon Jones Is Really Tired of the Media Stunts

DCJJStare

After Alexander Gustafsson decided to poke the bear late last week and tease UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones about an injury the champ sustained in training, Jon Jones was quick to respond.  Jones, in typical Jones fashion, decided to take the opportunity to address how he was not only focused on his next opponent, Daniel Cormier, but that he was tired of the media shenanigans.

Of course that was 24 hours ago.

Today, Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier decided to fight for free, well ahead of their UFC 178 matchup in September.  Wrapping up a media Q&A in the lobby of the MGM Grand to promote the fight, Cormier and Jones took to the stage for the cameras to carry out the age-old staredown photo-op, when Jones decided a face-off simply wasn’t enough and that he wanted to be in Cormier.  Head-to-head became literal and then exchanged shoving, and soon fists, were the order of the day. MMA Fighting captured the entirety of the brawl here, where Jones showed that his commitment to stopping “media stunts” is about as consistent as everything else he does outside of the cage.

Of course the most telling aspect of the pre-fight fight comes when Jones, pleased with the carnage, stood a top a nearby podium amid the public he and Cormier almost put in danger and crowed, loudly and intensely as only a man who abhors media tomfoolery can be.

Growl! via MMAFighting.com

Growl! via MMAFighting.com

And of course, Bones Jones couldn’t simply let the dust-up speak for itself and took to Twitter to needle Cormier.

Cormier went on to respond to Jones’s taunt via Twitter (presumably after he was able to locate his shoe).  Now, it stands to reason that the Nevada State Athletic Commission will likely review the incident, but the bigger issue may be that the fight spilled into the general audience.  All it takes is one person to to file suit, and suddenly, Cormier and Jones are taking on civil litigation instead of exchanging fisticuffs.

With that, a highly-anticipated fight for UFC 178 suddenly became much bigger. Nothing, however, captures the moment from the perspective of the UFC brass quite like UFC PR Director Dave Sholler in this shot:

ShollerWhat’s the over/under for when the mea culpas begin to be issued?

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FIGHT PICKS – UFC 172: Jones VS. Teixeira

Finally giving Glover the attention he deserves.

The last time a UFC champion had a title defense was February 22 of this year when Ronda Rousey defeated Sara McMann at UFC 170, and the last time a title was on the line was in March at UFC 171 when a new welterweight king was crowned.  Since UFC 171, and in between UFCs 170 and 171, there have been six events total where the stakes were high, but the hardware was out of the picture.  Tomorrow, Jon Jones, one of the few uninjured UFC champions, will take to the cage to face Glover Teixeira, a man who hasn’t lost a fight since Chuck Liddell was the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion—three years before Jon Jones started his MMA career.

It’s no secret that Jones is the overwhelming favorite.  The big question going into Saturday’s light heavyweight showdown is whether or not any effects from Alexander Gustafsson’s mauling of Jones—either mental or physical—will linger. Leading up to the fight, Jones has been distracted, making excuses, and generally circling the wagons in his camp.  However, there has yet to be an opponent to have his hand raised against Jones when the fight is over.  Only Gustafsson has made Jones look human.  However, as Chris Weidman showed the world, once you make an MMA idol look human, once you’ve made a god bleed, other fighters smell the blood in the water. There’s no un-ringing that bell.

Glover Teixeira has been easy to overlook fight week, especially with the intense media glare reflected off of Jones, Dana White’s fetish for putting his foot in his mouth, and Hurricane Rousey. But make no mistake, Teixeira is a unique challenge for Jones.  As I mentioned yesterday, if Gustafsson represented a physical challenge (in terms of genetic gifts), if Machida represented a stylistic challenge, and if Shogun represented the veteran challenge, no one has yet to represent the challenge of brute power that Teixeira will issue.  We’ve seen Jones get hit and keep coming against Machida, but Machida didn’t have Teixeira’s power.  We’ve see Jones get hit repeatedly against Gustafsson, but Gustafsson didn’t have Teixeira’s power either. Of course, Teixeira has to get close enough to utilize that power

Given everything I’ve seen from both men, I think Jones still has the advantage and the arsenal to make quick work of Teixeira.  That being said, I’m picking Teixeira in the upset. Jones has proven he can get taken by surprise. Vitor Belfort caught him in a bad armbar.  Gustafsson surprised an 80% Jones and sent him to the hospital.  If Teixeira can surprise Jones, I think he might be able to pull off the improbable.  One of the few occasions I’m letting my gut overrule my brain.

In the co-main, Phil Davis has been trying too hard the last two weeks to stay relevant outside of the cage in the 205-pound picture.  He’s trying so hard to poke the bear that is Jon Jones, the only thing people are discussing about his opponent Anthony Johnson is whether or not Johnson will make weight.  The problem is that neither Johnson or Davos are doing much to sell their own fight.  Unlike the main event, this matchup should play out exactly as the betting lines expect.  Davis is the superior wrestler and has had a better quality of opponents while Johnson has been learning to adjust to his new weight class.  With Davis’s focus on Jones instead of Johnson, there is an outside chance that Johnson could level Davis; however, I’ve already got my upset pick set in stone.

As for the rest of the undercard, look for Jim Miller to have a stellar performance against a late addition in Yancy Medeiros. Miller is a handful for most everyone in the 155 pound class, and his armbar against Fabricio Camoes was so beautiful, it belongs in the  Louvre. I only hope he returns to Bad Moon Rising as the walkout song of choice.  The Hollies was a nice change up in his last out, but whenever I hear CCR I no longer think of American Werewolf in London.  I think of Jim Miller.

Solid card up and down.  I expect Isaac Vallie-Flagg and Takanori Gomi to be a fun fight and for Benavidez and Elliott to go a hard three rounds. As always, feel free to come back to ridicule my picks as I am proven wrong.

My “of the night” predictions:

  • Fight of the night – Joseph Benavidez/Tim Elliott
  • Performance of the night 1 – Jim Miller
  • Performance of the night 2 – Glover Teixeira

 

IN THIS CORNER: A PROFILE OF GLOVER TEIXEIRA

Glover Teixeira before his fight with Ryan Bader.

With Jon Jones focusing on Chuck Liddell, Phil Davis, Alexander Gustafsson, himself, and everybody but his opponent Glover Teixeira, it seems like now would be a good time to revisit just how Teixeira got to where he is, co-headlining a main event at UFC 172 and what Teixeira can expect from the champ.

ON PAPER

  • Teixeira started his MMA career in 2002 with a loss, believe it or not, in the WEC.
  • In fact, Teixeira fought 4 times under the WEC banner.
  • Since his MMA debut, Teixeira has only lost one other fight in the 24 matches under his belt.
  • In the 2+ years Teixeira built up his undefeated record in Brazil, only 1 of his fights went to decision.
  • In his 5 fights with the UFC, only 1 win has been by decision.
  • Teixeira has more wins on his record than Jon Jones has total fights.
  • Teixeira has never fought past the 3rd round.

BETWEEN THE NUMBERS

Teixeira is a quiet guy.  He doesn’t smack talk.  He doesn’t try to sell himself.  He doesn’t belittle his opponents. He’s a marketing firm’s worst nightmare.  Despite his affiliations with former champ Chuck Liddell, Teixeira’s climb to the contender’s position, while a quiet one, has been earned of his own merits, most of the time by decimating his opponents.

Much like Jones, Teixeira is a finisher with 12 wins via KO/TKO and 7 coming by way of submission. The quality of competition, however, is where both Jones and Teixeira diverge.  Jones has notable wins against Lyoto Machida, Shogun Rua, Rampage Jackson, and Rashad Evans. For Teixeira, notable wins over Rampage Jackson, Ricco Rodriguez, and Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou strengthen his resume.  The two share similar wins against Ryan Bader and Rampage Jackson with Teixeira getting the slighter edge on the quickest time to finish their shared competition.

From 2007 through 2010, the UFC Light-Heavyweight Championship title became a hot potato among Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida, and Shogun Rua, with few of the title holders able to hold on to the belt for more than one defense.   Meanwhile, Teixeira was building his reputation in Brazil as a finisher. Often, viewers to UFC events would hear Joe Rogan opine about Glover Teixeira and the visa issues that prevented him from competing in the UFC and adding depth to its light heavyweight division.

When Teixeira was finally able to debut in the UFC, he was quick to impress, submitting Kyle Kingsbury less than 2 minutes into the first round. Since then Teixeira has shown has shown he is an intelligent and consistent fighter, for the most part.

THE BAD

Take his ridiculous fight against Fabio Maldonado in Brazil. Maldonado lured Teixeira into a brawl after Teixeira had dominated him on the feet early.  It was enough to get Teixeira’s attention, but the fact that Maldonado put him in a bad spot in the first place raises a red flag. Maldonado has one speed: zombie.  He moves forward. Much like a zombie apocalypse, it’s easy enough to plan for. To see Teixeira get lured into Maldonado’s kind of game is troubling even though Teixeira was able to get out of it ultimately.  It doesn’t fall into pattern though, until you look at his fight against Ryan Bader.

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In the Bader fight, Teixeira was dominating on the ground until, as he did in the Maldonado fight, Teixeira got suckered, this time, into chasing his opponent. Bader lit him up, briefly, before being floored by a Teixeira bomb.  The question remains though: does being baited twice prove a pattern?

THE GOOD

In his fight with Rampage Jackson, Teixeira pressed the action and stood his ground.  When Rampage attempted to get close, Teixeira took him down at will.  With Rampage’s reputation as a hard hitter, Teixeira took no chances allowing him to find a range.  It showed his intelligence and dominance.  Using both in a fight is a hard rope to walk, and in his fight against Rampage, Teixeira made it look effortless. His controlling performance against Rampage aside, Teixeira has shown two things that happen when he does get into trouble on his feet:

  • It’s temporary.
  • He KOs/TKOs the guy who put him in trouble.

Maldonado was so crushed by Teixeira’s power, the doctor didn’t allow Maldonado to continue his fight against Teixeira. Ryan Bader pushed Teixeira against the fence and unleashed a barrage until Teixeira saw enough of an opening to touch Bader just once, forcing him to turtle up on the canvas.  That’s the power Teixeira wields.  It’s atomic.

THE UGLY

Of course, none of the people on Teixeira’s ledger have the physical gifts of Jon Jones. For Teixeira to get inside and touch Jones’s chin, he has to pass the miles of highway that is the Jones reach.  And that’s a long ride to reach the destination. He has to avoid the “oblique” kicks that Jones throws to keep his opponents out of range. He also has to be ready for the creative way Jones implements attacks.  They come from odd angles and at odd times.

In short, the things that Glover gets criticized for in his performances will likely be a non-factor in the championship fight with Jon Jones. Glover won’t get suckered into a brawl with Jones because that’s not what Jones does. Knowing that, does it give Teixeira carte blanche to make the fight ugly?  Does Teixeira attempt to bait Jones into thinking that Teixeira can be baited into a brawl, allowing Jones to get close enough to unload?  Probably not.  Jones scares the bejesus out of most people not named Alexander Gustafsson, and Jones’s opponents respect his abilities too much to allow him to get that close; however, that’s exactly the kind of blueprint that Teixeira’s mentor followed so well.  Chuck Liddell was a counter striker that used his wrestling to keep the fight standing, made his opponents wade into his range, and then uncorked on them with power counter shots.  Liddell’s success with that blueprint is one that might justify Teixeira going retro in his fight on Saturday and taking a page out of the past in order to beat Jones.  Jones, in his countless distractions leading up to the fight, has even been vocal about Chuck Liddell this week, going so far as to challenge the retired former lightweight champion, further endearing himself to MMA fans everywhere. Does Jones see something about Teixeira that gives him pause so much so that he’s sniping at Teixeira’s camp? Maybe Liddell, John Hackleman, and Glover Teixeira know something the Vegas oddsmakers don’t.

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If Gustaffson represented Jones’s test against a physical threat, Machida represented Jones’s test against a technical threat, Belfort and Sonnen represented Jones’s test from the outside threat of smaller opponents, surely Teixeira represents Jones’s biggest test against the threat of raw power. The more Jones keeps talking about Chuck Liddell, Phil Davis, Alexander Gustafsson, and social media snafus, the more you have to wonder if he’s had adequate time to cram for the kind of assessment that is Glover Teixeira.  If not, here’s hoping he at least has planned an excuse.

The Jon Jones Marketing Machine: 80% of the Time, It Works Every Time

Jon Jones’s phone has been hacked!  Again!

Actually, it’s probably been “hacked” for the last seven months, at least.

Earlier today, Damon Martin published a Fox Sports article in which Jones claimed that in his epic fight with Alexander Gustafsson, Jones only “went 80%” and that was the reason Gustafsson had such success against him.

Jones went on to say, “I’m not making excuses,” before issuing the following excuse, “Gustafsson did a great job in the fight, but I know I had a lot more in me.  I did some of the cardio tests that I normally do and my numbers weren’t the same.”

Interestingly enough, Jones posted a selfie to his Instagram account seven months ago prior to the fight with a caption that read, “Just finished a killer cardio workout!! Crushed my numbers from last camp.”

80 percent of the time, it work every time.

80 percent of the time, it works every time.

I know what you’re thinking.  Jon Jones is a liar.  He is clearly trying to spin the hammering he took at the hands of The Mauler that ended with him looking like this:

I disagree.  The blame should be placed at the feet of the culprits who, only recently, were found to have hacked the Light Heavyweight champion’s phone.  They were the ones who must have inflated his cardio numbers! In fact, I bet he never even watched Sabotage as he states in his tweet from March 29th of this year!

I can’t for a minute think that Jon Jones could be trying to sell a fight with Gustafsson before he gets through his opponent this weekend in Glover Teixeira. He’s too smart to be looking past Teixeira, right?   Who knows? Perhaps there is a ready-made excuse on tap from his management team just in the off-chance Teixeira floors him. After all, to craft the narrative you want—where you know and direct everything being said—you have to have to write it from an omniscient point of view, which is difficult to do if your scope, as it is in Jones’s case, is clearly limited.  Kevin Iole himself said it best in an op-ed earlier this week when he said of Jones, “…he likes to control the narrative in a way that the media doesn’t like and shouldn’t accept.”

The only thing Jon Jones is better at than impressively winning every single one of his fights is his ability to rile up MMA fans and poke the bear to sell himself beyond his cage exploits.  It’s a win-win after all. He gives people like me something to write about.  He further sells his next fight. I leave the money on the nightstand and wait for the next PPV. Rinse. Repeat.

Call him a phony. Call him disingenuous. Call him a pair of clown shoes.  But all of those labels should come after “Defending & Reigning UFC Light Heavyweight Champion”.  He is that. 100%… Even if MMA fans should only take him seriously ~15% of the time.

Rematch Denied! – More UFC 165 Fallout

This is what a convincing wins resembles.

Whoever is fighting Jon Jones next, take one step forward.  Not so fast Alexander Gustafsson.

Well, I can’t say I’m not disappointed, and it does come off as a bit of a surprise given the overwhelming positive response to their initial match up, but word broke overnight from Brett Okamoto that Jon Jones’ next opponent will be Glover Teixeira and not a rematch with Alexander Gustafsson.

Jones was heard to have said after their match at UFC 165 that Gustafsson deserved a rematch.  However, he then said he watched the fight “over 10 times” and feels that he won decisively and is ready to move on. 

Because it’s Jones, and his ego and attitude, it’s easy to say that this is him ducking a fight against an opponent who finally has his number.  However, to Jones’ credit, the guy has never backed down from an opponent put in front of him (except for that time with Chael Sonnen, but those were under truly unusual circumstances).   And, it can be argued he’s had a far tougher test in his title defenses than just about any other UFC champ in the company’s history.

I would have doled out another $60 to see a rematch between Jones and Gustafsson, so as a consumer, it’s disappointing these two won’t be locking horns.  However, I’m torn because what do you do with Glover if Jones and Gustafsson have the rematch?  Glover has earned his shot. Should he be asked to wait or fight someone else until these two settle things once and for all?  For all of the critics who balk at “undeserved” title shots (like Chael and Vitor getting shots against Jones at 205), do they now stick to the guns and back the decision to give Glover a shot despite the fact that Jones/Gustafsson is widely thought of as fight of the year and despite the fact that many are clamoring for a rematch?

I think Gustafsson may be more hurt than what has been reported and needs a little time to recover.  I also think the UFC didn’t expect much from Gustafsson.  Now that it has a potential rivalry on its hands, it can take its time, build it up, and promote it to squeeze every dollar out of it.  Have Jones fight Teixeira.  Have Gustafsson fight Rashad Evans, Dan Henderson, or Phil Davis. Then, start to craft the narrative for the rematch over the course of the next 6-8 months.

Of course, it’s all a crap shoot.  Jones could lose.  Gustafsson could lose.  Suddenly, the shine is off the rematch if there is no title at stake.  The only real winner is the UFC.  If Jones continues his winning streak, he is labeled P4P best and continues to sell PPVs, Gatorade, and Nikes.  If he loses, the company would likely make the rematch with Gustafsson sooner so as to not lose any more money.   Or, it starts to craft the narrative around a friend versus friend match with Phil Davis and Gustafsson going head-to-head.

What this does bring into stark contrast is the lack of depth in the 205 top 10:  Alexander Gustafsson, Glover Teixeira, Phil Davis, Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Dan Henderson, Chael Sonnen, Gegard Mousasi , and Mauricio Rua.

Jones has beaten half of the fighters on that list.  Four of the fighters on that list (Sonnen, Evans, Machida, and Mousasi) are having dalliances with dropping to 185.  Henderson and Nogeueria are injury prone. That leaves Davis and Teixeira as the only real contenders for Jones.

From there, what does Jones do?  His barn burner with Gustafsson shows that he may not be quite ready for a jump to Heavyweight.  If anything, what UFC 165 showed me is that Jones may have carved up the 205 division, but he is human.  His reign has given time for future contenders to grow and mature, so at the end of the day, maybe moving on to Glover Teixeira is the best move for both Jones and the UFC.  And if worse comes to worst, it still has Gustafsson in its back pocket for a rainy day.