Mixed Martial Arts returned from a brief break with force, as in Sarah Kaufman’s third-round knockout of Roxanne Modafferi at Friday’s Strikeforce Challenger’s Series show. Next for the women’s welterweight champion is Marloes Coenen, dropping down from 145 pounds to compete at 135. The winner of this fight will defend against the winner of an intriguing one-night tournament to take place August 13 in Phoenix featuring Miesha Tate, Carina Damm, Hitomi Akano and Maiju Kujala.
This Sunday is the second UFC show on Versus headlined by hot light-heavyweight prospect Jon Jones against veteran Vladimir Matyushenko. If you don’t know what Jones has done you haven’t been paying attention. He’s won 10 of his 11 MMA bouts, the one loss by disqualification for illegal 12-to-6 elbows to the head of Matt Hamill. His last fight was his toughest test, one he aced by destroying Brandon Vera.
Greater than Jones’ skill is his attitude. In a little under two years covering MMA Jones is one of the most mature, level-headed and relaxed 23-year-olds I’ve ever interviewed. Many young athletes get a small taste of success and think from there it’s a breeze, but there is no sense of entitlement in Jon Jones. He made a decision to join Jackson’s Submission Fighting because he knew he had to get better despite everyone anointing him as the next big thing and claiming he was ready for a title shot.
“A real champion focuses on what they don’t know, not what they know,” Jones said on a conference call promoting Sunday’s event in San Diego. “Everyone is saying all these things about me, but I’m not saying them. I think it’s really important to stay grounded.”
He’s done that, and then some, by paying respect and gratitude to his opponent. Matyushenko was the IFL’s first light heavyweight champion and a two-time National Junior College champion at Lassen College. Including the IFL, “The Janitor” (24-4) has competed in MMA since 1997, so what he’ll lack in sheer talent compared to “Bones” he’ll make up for in experience and savvy.
“I’m honored to fight a guy that’s helped pave the way for me, 24 wins is nothing to laugh at. He’s a warrior,” said Jones before adding. ”He’s never fought anyone like me.”
Anyone who’s fought Jones has seen techniques and proficiency they’ve yet to experience. Matyushenko enters the main event a winner of his last three fights, including two decision wins over Igor Pokrajac and Eliot Marshall in his return UFC bouts. If on his game he’ll be a severe test, one who intends on if not scoring a shocking upset, not going down so easily.
“I can’t make my reach longer or get taller, but I can train as hard as I possibly can and I’ll be ready on August 1st,” Matyushenko said.
John “Doomsday” Howard meets Jake Ellenberger in the co-main event. Howard is unbeaten in five UFC fights, the last a first-round knockout of Daniel Roberts at the first UFC show to air on Versus.
“I’m expecting him to come out hardcore and I’m prepared for that,” Howard told me for Heavy.com. “I know he has heavy hands but I have heavy hands too. If he wants to brawl with a boxer then all power to him. Obviously I’m nervous, but I’m actually excited too. We have main card, on TV, and we’re going to have some fun.”
Deep down, Howard burns for a fight against Anthony Johnson. “Rumble” was Johnson’s original opponent at UFC on Versus 1 before backing out to have knee surgery. The bad blood stems from Johnson’s public criticism of Howard after Howard’s management team pulling him out of a potential contest at The Ultimate Fighter 9 Finale. Howard claimed that Johnson was making triple his salary and scoffs at any thought of being afraid.
“We do not like each other and I can’t stand him,” Howard said. “I don’t like the things he’s said. Somehow, someway it’s going to happen.”
Shark Fights is a burgeoning Amarillo, Texas, promotion that’s promoting a great lineup for Shark Fights 13 on September 11. The most recent addition is Paul “Semtex” Daley, who signed a one-fight deal to compete against an opponent to be determined.
“Words cannot express how elated we are that Paul Daley has agreed to fight for our organization,” said Shark president Brent Medley.
Daley was released from the UFC for his sucker-punch of Josh Koscheck following their UFC 113 fight and comes off a submission win over Daniel Acacio at an Impact FC show in Sydney, Australia.
"I'm very excited to be fighting in the U.S. again," Daley said in a statement. "Despite my conduct during the Koscheck fight, which I agree is inexcusable, fans in the United States have been very supportive. For that I am very grateful. I can't undo what has already been done, but I'm determined to prove to everyone that the fighter they saw at UFC 113 is not who I am. I am better than that and the fans deserve better than that. I plan to do whatever it takes to earn back their respect and the respect of everyone in the industry."
Shark is quickly earning recognition. The main event is a non-title match between champion Trevor Prangley and former UFC light-heavyweight contender Keith Jardine. Thierry Sokoudjou takes on Houston Alexander in addition to a middleweight fight between Joey Villasenor and Drew McFedries.
Originally posted on the FightLaunch.com MMA Blog.