The big question surrounding Jon Jones is “Who’s next?”
When people are asking that question about you, you’re a phenom and must-see TV.
Jones bulldozed over former IFL champion Vladimir Matyushenko in less than two minutes Sunday night in San Diego. Besides a former title holder, Matyushenko was a winner of 11 of his past 12 fights, one that Jones took down almost immediately and deftly transformed from side control into a crucifix. Then came the thunderstorm of elbows, those that shattered Brandon Vera’s orbital bone and forced Herb Dean to end Matyushenko’s suffering at 1:56.
So who is next? Dana White said after the fight Jones is ready for competition within the light-heavyweight division’s top eight. The best of the division are booked for most of the year. One who isn’t, Rashad Evans, is Jones’ teammate at Jackson’s Submission Fighting. Greatness cannot be rushed, which is why UFC is correct in their handling of Jones. Joe Silva likes to match up fighters coming off wins. One not only comes off a win, but he’s a name and primed for at least one more big fight, and that’s Rich Franklin. Forrest Griffin is another option, but the guessing game could be extended if Franklin and Griffin are paired at UFC 123 in November.
Say this for Jones: His attitude is exemplary. He gets it and he’s showing no signs of growing a big head.
“I feel the pressure to not just win, but go out and I have to impress people and look spectacular,” Jones said. “I see someone like [WEC featherweight champion] Jose Aldo fight and he looks so sweet. I start to give myself that same type of pressure. So that’s where my coaches say ‘Don’t worry about it, if you lose, all this hype and this media will fall away,’ so they tell me to do it for myself. That gets me to relax, keep my focus … we’ve got a bunch of guys in our camp who are in their early 30s, late 20s, and they’ve been there. They get me to check myself.”
Quick hits on Saturday’s UFC 117 event in Oakland, Calif:
For a good laugh, give another listen to the Anderson Silva-Chael Sonnen conference call. Sonnen’s words speak for themselves, but I also found something humorous about Silva’s “No” responses to certain questions. Because of Sonnen’s ability to ground any offense, combined with his confidence and heart, you can’t dismiss him as a sacrificial lamb. If Silva puts on stunts like he did against Damian Maia, Sonnen will make him pay. That said, under the threat of a firing and the emotion-less desire to destroy his opponent, I’m expecting Silva to put on a clinic.
The winner of Junior Dos Santos-Roy Nelson will earn a heavyweight title shot against the winner of Brock Lesnar-Cain Velasquez. Nelson isn’t Sonnen, but he’s outspoken, and for whatever reason told Cagewriter and MMAFighting.com he believes Shane Carwin is a quitter. If Nelson loses to Dos Santos, he can expect a date with Carwin around the turn of the year.
Matt Hughes continues his comeback into potential title contention when he faces Gracie disciple Ricardo Almeida. “Big Dog” told me for Heavy.com his motivation is simply winning the fight and not any revenge for Hughes’ blasting of Renzo Gracie at UFC 112. Hughes is a UFC Hall of Famer and the best who’s ever competed at 170. He may have passed his peak, yet he remains capable. The question is what else does he have to prove?
Jon Fitch-Thiago Alves is another intriguing bout at welterweight, one that could have potential title implications. Both have fought and lost to champion Georges St. Pierre, while Alves owns a win over No. 1 contender Josh Koscheck. Fitch is stuck with reputation of being boring, but he also wins and possesses the ground game that can neutralize Alves like GSP did at UFC 100. If Alves, however, can shake off any rust from the medical maladies that plagued him this spring, he’s a dynamo who will pull off an impressive win to launch himself right back into contention.
Win or lose, Clay Guida entertains. Fresh off a win over Shannon Gugerty that snapped his two-fight losing streak, the Carpenter squares off against Rafael dos Anjos, one who’s recovered from a devastating knockout loss to Jeremy Stephens to go 3-1 in his last four.
Follow Jon Lane on Twitter @MMAjunkieJon.
Originally posted on the FightLaunch.com MMA Blog.