Posts Tagged ‘Jon Jones’

USA TODAY Sports/Adam Guillen Jr. MMAMAnia

As much as Jon Jones admires and looks up to former UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva, he would never even think about fighting with his hands down like “The Spider’ did against Chris Weidman at UFC 162, and also says seeing Silva lose the way he did was a reality check.

When Anderson Silva coughed up his 185-pound throne to Chris Weidman last weekend (July 6, 2013) at UFC 162, fans and fighters alike were left in shock and disbelief.

Among them was Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones, who took to his Twitter account immediately afterward to express his feelings on what he had just witnessed (see it here).

“Bones” was rightfully upset, seeing as how many believed he was one win away from a much-desired “super fight” against the former middleweight king. The loss not only crushed that fight, but also cost the 205-pound champion a potentially huge payday.

Aside from being upset at the fact that he lost out on his chance to be the first man to hand Silva his first loss inside the Octagon, Jones says seeing Anderson lose was a reality check.

Furthermore, “Bones” says he would never even think about fighting with hands down at his waist like “The Spider” did in “Sin City.”

His words during today’s (July 9, 2013) UFC 165 press conference:

“It actually motivates me a lot to watch somebody who I look up to like that lose. It’s like a reality check. I try to keep my ego in check when it comes to the fight game. Watching Anderson lose like that; first of all, that’s something I would never do, is put my hands down and fight my opponent that way. Seeing Chris Weidman’s dream come true, it motivates me to be a dream crusher.”

Speaking of gameplans, as Jones prepares to defend his title against Alexander Gustafsson in the main event of UFC 165 on Sept., 21, 2013 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the Jackson-Winkeljohn fighter is determined to prove to fans that the distinct size advantage he holds over most of the 205-pound division isn’t the sole reason for his success.

His words:

“I definitely would like to prove to people that my size isn’t the only reason why I’ve made it this far, it’s also my mental approach to the game. I’ll definitely try to prove I can kickbox with Alexander Gustafsson. I kickboxed with Shogun Rua, Lyoto Machida and Rampage Jackson. I know the safest place I can fight him and also for the fans and my own ego. I see it pretty clearly with his strengths and weaknesses like I do with every opponent.”

That size advantage, however, will be nonexistent against the six-foot, five-inch Swede (see the evidence here).

And while taunting and disrespecting his opponents has never been a part of Jon’s repertoire, after seeing one of the greatest of all time pay the price for “taking it too far” with his antics, it will likely remain that way.

It’s a good thing too, because pulling those shenanigans against a fighter as dangerous as “The Mauler” could prove disastrous for anyone.

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Esther Lin for MMA Fighting/Jesse Holland MMAMania

I think we know who Vitor Belfort is rooting for at UFC 162…

If you’re Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight contender Vitor Belfort, this probably isn’t the news you were hoping to hear.

“The Phenom” recently told UFC President Dana White that he “deserves” the next shot at the 185-pound strap, following two spectacular head-kick knockouts over fellow top division contenders Michael Bisping and Luke Rockhold.

There’s just one problem.

Belfort was blown out of the water by reigning middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva when they first met for the title back at UFC 126, and trying to convince the 38 year-old “Spider” to extend another invitation — particularly with a pair of “super fights” looming — is a pretty tall order.

White explains (via MMA Weekly):

“So when you go back to Anderson Silva, who is in the twilight of his career, and you say to a guy like Anderson, what about Vitor? ‘I annihilated Vitor. I got other fights that I wanna fight.’ You talk about his legacy and his this and his that. Those are tough fights to make. I’m not saying that Vitor couldn’t get the next shot, or couldn’t get a shot soon, but if you’re Anderson Silva… ‘I wanna fight (Georges St. Pierre) or Jon Jones or somebody different.’ You could make a better argument that Dan Henderson should get the next shot. He hasn’t looked impressive and he hasn’t won, but (Silva) didn’t beat him as bad as he did Vitor.”

Ouch.

Henderson hasn’t seen the 185-pound weight class since coming up lame in his Strikeforce debut, a five-round decision loss to Jake Shields in Nashville back in 2010. Since then, “Hendo” has been doing work at 205 pounds, with mixed results, but did offer to drop back down for a crack at the crown.

That can happen when you lose two straight.

And since he holds a 2006 win over Belfort under the PRIDE banner, he apparently makes “the better argument,” though I’m not too sure Silva would be keen on entertaining a second dance with Henderson, either, having dispatched the rugged ex-Olympian in March 2008.

What a tangled web we weave.

Then again, none of this really matters if Silva coughs up his belt to Chris Weidman in the main event of UFC 162: “Silva vs. Weidman,” which takes place tomorrow night (July 6, 2013) at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Belfort vs. Weidman? Yeah, I could see that.

You?

Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

Vitor Belfort says fighters have to earn, not talk about, world mixed martial arts (MMA) title shots inside the Octagon.

In case you didn’t know, Vitor Belfort and Chael Sonnen have something in common.

Their previous two losses have come to arguably the top two pound-for-pound mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters in the world in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones and Middleweight champion Anderson Silva.

But, that’s where their similarities stop.

When it comes to earning and receiving world title shots, Sonnen has parlayed his quick wit and gift of gab into dreams of gold, getting the chance to face “Bones” at UFC 159 fresh of his loss to “The Spider” eight months prior at UFC 148.

Belfort, meanwhile, chooses to play the silent warrior role, letting his actions inside the Octagon speak for him. And if his last two knockout performances against Michael Bisping and Luke Rockhold are any indication, the actions of “The Phenom” aren’t politely requesting another title shot, but flat out demanding one.

It’s that “shocking” success, and hard work, that that will eventually lead the Brazilian brawler back to a world title shot (via USA Today):

“I don’t think it’s time to ask; I think it’s time to earn. That’s my ethic in life. Life is about earning. Sometimes in life, you look at very rich guys who have been given everything, and they wind up crashing. They lose their family’s fortune. They didn’t know how to keep it because they didn’t earn it. That’s how I go through life. I go to the gym every day. I work hard. I know I will bring that title back. But, it’s not about waiting for the time. It’s about making my time now.”

After besting Rockhold and Bisping in 185-pound action, Belfort remained silent, refusing to call out Silva for a rematch, leaving many in the MMA community puzzled.

It was apparently a conscious decision:

“Everyone is about fighting for the title, and they want to get themselves there by selling fights, picking fights, talking trash on Twitter. I’m not saying they’re wrong. It’s a style. I’m not criticizing or judging them, because I don’t have that right. But, I have the right to work hard and to ask people to recognize that work. That’s the way I want to get to the top, and I believe I made it. I believe I’ve done everything necessary.”

But. don’t think for a second Belfort isn’t one to seize an opportunity when he sees one.

Prior to UFC 152, when 205-pound contenders were too busy acting like “divas,” Belfort stepped up, made his voice heard and offered up his services to go up a to a weight class to take on Jones in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

While he came up short to “Bones” in the world title fight, Belfort is still the leading candidate to receive the next title shot against the winner of Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva at UFC 162 because he has won four straight at Middleweight.

He’s just quietly awaiting work from UFC executives:

“Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta, they are promoters, and I respect them very much. Right now, I haven’t heard from them, and I don’t know what’s going on, but I’ve served the organization very well. I’m fighting in main events, winning fights, shocking everybody. I’m right there, and they know that. Now it’s just waiting to see if I’ve done enough. You cannot go against results, so look at my results. That’s what I mean. Some people earn, and some people don’t. They try to get there without earning it. I believe in every area of my life, I earn … and I earn through the glory of God.”

And contrary to popular opinion, the fact that Belfort is going through a career resurrection of sorts has nothing to do with the fact that he’s on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).

Consider the silent source.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA Today Sports

UFC President Dana White once called veteran mixed martial arts (MMA) official Steve Mazzagatti, “the worst referee in the history of fucking fights,” but Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) Executive Director Keith Kizer says that White just likes to “put people down” because of his “ego.”

Josh Burkman shocked the mixed martial arts (MMA) world last Friday night (June 14, 2013) when he defeated Jon Fitch in the main event of World Series of Fighting (WSOF) 3, which took place at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“The People’s Warrior” needed less than a minute to secure the submission win by way of guillotine choke (watch replay here).

Following the event, UFC President Dana White slammed the performance of referee Steve Mazzagatti (read it here). The longtime man in black did not stop the fight, nor did he need to, as Burkman simply stood up and left his lifeless foe asleep on the canvas.

Fortunately for Fitch, his conqueror knew when to say when.

But it the wake of Fitchgate, Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director (NSAC) Keith Kizer was quick to downplay White’s critique, insisting the “weird” ending of the fight was not based on a judgment call by the official, but rather a series of circumstances that allowed the contest to conclude on its own.

His comments to MMA Fighting:

“It as neither a positive or a negative on the referee. All of us in the arena, and the commentators who know their stuff, were really shocked Jon (Fitch) was out. Steve was right there. He had to walk two steps. He walked two steps and waved off the fight. It was very easy for him, and every easy for Josh as well. It was a weird ending to the fight, but good for Josh. The guy went out and Josh immediately released the hold. What’s weird is he flipped Fitch over, away from the ref. When Josh had the hold, he (Mazzagatti) was one step away. He had a perfect view. Josh flipped him away from the ref, then stood up. I would praise the referee if he did a good job. But here, there’s nothing to talk about the ref. It wasn’t a good job or a bad job. He had no job. I think most people thought Jon was going to get out. Bas (Rutten) and I both thought he was letting go of the hold and transitioning to another hold. The story should be about Josh getting an amazing win, doing the right thing, and releasing the hold. This isn’t about the ref. Dana’s a good guy. Very few people care about other people as much as Dana. But you’ve heard what he’s said about former fighters, former employees, even fighters in his organization. Even Jon Jones. He likes to put people down, whether rightly or wrongly. It’s an ego thing. We all have egos. I think it’s wrong when people lie and you can make your own conclusions on Dana.”

This wasn’t the first time White blasted The Mazz.

He wanted to “blow his brains out” earlier this year when it was learned that Steve-O was in charge of the UFC 156 main event between Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar, a happenstance White said he could “spend 45 minutes” complaining about (his rant here).

No matter.

As Mazzagatti said, he doesn’t work for ZUFFA and it’s not his job to make sure the fights end the way a promoter wants them to (comments here). Unfortunately, since White has been so vocal about the shortcomings of his nemesis, it has led to his fighters hopping on the bandwagon when they come up short in a big spot (example).

Two sides to every story fight fans … which one are you taking?

Scott Cunningham/Jesse Holland MMAMania

Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson is (finally) official for the UFC 165 pay-per-view (PPV) event on Sept. 21 in Toronto.

It’s on!

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones has been booked to defend his 205-pound title against Alexander Gustafsson at the UFC 165 pay-per-view (PPV) event on Sept. 21, 2013 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Somewhere in Brazil, Lyoto Machida weeps.

The good news is, Jones will face off against a fresh challenger, rather than going into re-runs. “Bones” has come fairly close to cleaning out his entire division, with Dan Henderson and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira both suffering recent setbacks.

In 19 professional fights, his lone defeat was a disqualification for 12-6 elbows during his first-round massacre over Matt Hamill on Versus. Since then, he’s blown through nine straight opponents, finishing eight of them, including Chael Sonnen at UFC 159 back in April.

The same event where he blew up his toe.

That little piggy seems to be on the up-and-up, which means Gustafsson will have to be at his very best in Toronto. To date, he’s 7-1 inside the Octagon and 15-1 overall, with recent wins over Mauricio Rua, Thiago Silva and Vladimir Matyushenko.

Whether or not that’s the kind of experience that can win him the title, remains to be seen.

The two have been bickering back and forth on Twitter and recently came nose-to-nose on a promotional tour of Russia. “The Mauler” demanded that Jones cough up a date and it looks like the champ has finally obliged. It will also be interesting to see what the odds look like when they open later this week.

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting/Ariel Helwani MMA Fighting

After UFC president Dana White announced on Thursday that Jon Jones would defend his light heavyweight title against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165 on Sept. 21 in Toronto, MMAFighting.com spoke to Jones about the fight, his injured toe, meeting Fedor Emelianenko and more.

Below is a transcript of that conversation.

Ariel Helwani: First off, how is your toe feeling?
Jon Jones: My toe is doing really well. Right now, I’m going to ease into some boxing and some wrestling with Cornell University, maybe try to get in at Ithaca College too, and start doing sports where I use a boot or a shoe, like a wrestling shoe or a boxing boot, to do some weightlifting, get my body fat down and get ready to improve my game.

What exactly happened to the toe when you injured it?
I chopped some of the bone on the right side of the left toe and tore ligaments on the left side of the toe. Now, I have to tape my big toe to the toe next to it, and as long as I can do that for about four more weeks, I’ll be fine. I just can’t put the toe in any quirky positions, like I would if I was doing jiu-jitsu, so that it doesn’t go the opposite way again.

I heard you wanted to fight in October. Why are you fighting in September?
I was hoping for October, but Dana asked me to do September, so I thought I would be a team player and try to help the UFC out with their scheduling. Having me so close to Toronto, I thought it would make sense for the company, so I took the fight. At the same time, I don’t feel rushed at all, so it worked out for the both of us.

Originally, were you trying to return in August?
No, I was not trying to fight in August. They wanted me to fight in August for the first FOX Sports 1 card, but I just thought that would be a bad idea. It was a great opportunity. I definitely want to fight on free television for the fans. I realize there’s a lot of people out there that aren’t in a position to buy pay-per-view. So, I would be honored to fight for the fans on free television, and I was going to jump at the opportunity, but I took a few steps back and really evaluated whether that would be a smart idea or not and realized that I should do that another time.

(more…)

Photo via @AlexTheMauler on Twitter

Jon Jones is pushing back an expected return to action from the summer to fall, reportedly interested in defending his light heavyweight title against Alexander Gustafsson.

Give me a date!?!

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight titleholder Jon Jones has apparently decided to not rush back to the Octagon, eyeing a return to mixed martial arts (MMA) competition this fall against Swedish sensation Alexander Gustafsson.

Jones and Gustafsson have crossed paths several times in recent weeks, sending messages to each other on Twitter and coming face-to-face in Russia for a staredown.

While the 205-pound match up has yet to be formally announced, Gustafsson told MMA Fighting last week that he expects a title shot to be offered “soon.”

That offer has yet to come through, but according to a report by Ariel Helwani on Tuesday’s (June 11, 2013) edition of FUEL TV‘s “UFC Tonight,” Jones’ injured toe is healing at a steady pace and he would like to put his belt on the line for a record-breaking sixth time against “The Mauler.”

Jones teased a few weeks back that he had a major decision on the horizon, and it appears that decision was whether or not to take a fight or allow his toe more time to recover. This latest report, if accurate, would suggest he went with the latter, targeting return date went from summer to closer to the end of the year.

Accordingly, a potential date or location for the 205-pound title match up — if it even comes to fruition — has not been announced at this time.

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

NEW YORK — All the work had been done. He’d gone through his two-month camp, made the cross-country flight to Las Vegas and sat in his locker room, preparing to go out before the world. It was supposed to be showtime. He warmed up and walked out to the cage and looked across at his opponent. He heard the referee intone him to fight.

And then?

“It was just weird because I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t feel anything at all,” Rashad Evans said on Monday, before flying to Winnipeg, the site of this weekend’s UFC 161. “I felt nothing. I felt blank. That never happened to me before. I was always able to feel something. But I couldn’t even feel anything. I couldn’t feel nervous. I couldn’t feel.”

That was Evans talking about his last fight, a February matchup with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. But, he also admitted, in his bout before that against Jon Jones, he had not quite been himself, either.

“Disconnected” was the precise word that he used to describe the foreign phenomenon he experienced, the one separating him from the sensory world surrounding him. You’ve heard of an athlete being in “the zone”? This is the exact opposite, a purgatory from which there is no escape, in which there are no impactful actions or movements.

This is what he’s trying to come back from now, with an all-time great, Dan Henderson waiting on the other side. On Saturday night, in the main event, Evans isn’t just fighting Hendo and the mother of all right hands. He’s also fighting himself, to regain his foothold as an elite, to rediscover the confidence and the fire that carried him to a UFC light heavyweight championship in 2008. That’s obvious to everybody who watches him. Even his mother.

Evans’ mom Shirley has become a quasi-celebrity in the MMA world, partly for the impressions of her that her son does. Most of the time, he impersonates her imparting her unique fight wisdom. Asked what advice she offered for this fight, he goes right into it, but her brief guidance boils down to her final words: “Bring some of that swag back.”

But is it quite that simple? We like to think that there is an imaginary force field that keeps personal problems away from the professional arena of competition, some magical earphones that tune out the noise and static. That’s a myth. For Evans, for a time, it was downright impossible to feel like a success in his professional life when his personal life was crumbling around him.

In early 2012, Evans and his wife divorced. The child of a broken home himself, Evans didn’t take the split lightly.

“When you go through a thing like divorce and dealing with all of that, I felt like a failure in life,” he said. “I felt like I failed my kids and I failed a lot of things. It took a lot for me mentally to put myself in a place where I was able to compete. I had to forgive myself and let myself know it was OK that things didn’t work out, and move on from that. It was definitely something that I had to put my mind to and focus on and do.”

Some people will chalk this up as an excuse. Evans is smart enough to know that, but he is nothing if not candid; he can’t stop himself from offering up his reality whether it’s joyful or melancholy. And at the time, everything was new and raw. He had switched gyms, he had moved to a different part of the country, and he was apart from his family for the first time. It was all foreign. He tried to fake his way through it, tried to shut his mouth and plow forward. But the tightly wound ball unravels the quickest, and before long, Evans was struggling in a way that he never had.

When you’re a young kid starting out in the fight business, the fire burns brightly, especially when you come from a place of struggle as Evans had. As a child, he’d had his heat turned off at times, electricity at others, as his mom tried to keep up with bills. He grew up wanting what the other, better-off kids had. Even before he came into the UFC, he was working security at a hospital. He often had to wheel dead bodies to the morgue, and as he did so, he’d wonder what kind of life those people had. Had they chased their dreams? Had they accomplished anything?

As a young man with little to his name, that was plenty of fuel for motivation. He could still remember the feeling of the cold air in his home, could close his eyes and pace the hospital walkways. But now, years later, time has dulled those memories, and the money he’s made had given him all those things he’d wanted as a youth and then some. He had those things, so what was his motivation now?

“I thought a lot about what happened,” he said. “I’ve harnessed the fight inside me. I’ve done the things that bring out the fight inside of me. Everybody has those things that make them fight, those triggers and stuff. For me, I’ve been working a lot on what makes me fight. What’s my motivating factor and those things. I’ve been all through camp steady working to improve my triggers so the minute I decide to fight, I’m going to be ready to fight. I’ll be able to pull and draw from that. For me it’s about waking up early in the morning and going for my morning runs, like 5 in the morning. Doing my heavy bag work in the garage, or doing a little extra work. Sitting and thinking about the fight, writing down what I’m going to do, different attacks. It’s to harness the fight inside of me and in my mind.”

Evans feels in some ways he won’t have a choice but to fight. He knows it’s good to feel scared, and Henderson certainly brings something to have fear in. Evans acknowledges that Henderson is one of the best fighters the U.S. has ever produced. He admires him and admits he’s dangerous. Someone’s going to get knocked out, he says. It’s just not going to be him, not when he still has things he wants to do. At 33 years old, Evans can’t see the end nearing. Not yet, despite the fact that he once brought up the possibility of retirement.

To his core, he says, he still identifies himself as a fighter. Even though he has a FUEL TV gig to fall back on, even though he made the money he wanted as a child, the structure of a fight camp is still the purpose he desires. The label of being a fighter is still necessary to him. Perhaps in his changing world, now more than ever.

As a kid, he was a Mike Tyson fan, and like millions, hung on every moment of Tyson’s fights, knowing something jaw-dropping was going to happen. Something that drew his eyes like magnets. Those are the same types of moments he wants to produce now. As an adult, he got to meet Tyson. They didn’t talk about fighting, but about life. Tyson is a man who’s lived through things and gained a lot of wisdom along the way, wisdom that Evans still thinks about.

Evans wants to be champion again. He’s not afraid to say it. But more than that, he wants to create memorable moments. He wants to throw himself into the best matchups with the most dangerous people. He wants to feel the heat of the fire again.

“Life in general, sometimes you take a few steps back just to go further than you would have before,” he said. “It’s hard to find the perspective of why you had the setbacks and failures, but it happens. Once you’re able to accept it, to internalize it and get a feel for what happened, then you’re able to move past it and maybe go further and project yourself further than you would have if you didn’t. I’m not going to put myself in a box and say I have to win. I want to win, I’m going to win, and inside of me, I want to go out there and perform and put on a great show for myself and the fans. But for the most part, I don’t feel the pressure.”