New blood emerges at UFC on Versus 1

March, 22, 2010
3/22/10
5:45
PM CT
So often over the past year we have spoken of the mainstays in the heavyweight divisions: Machida, Rua, Velasquez, Lesnar, Mir, Carwin, Evans or Jackson, not to mention the old school warriors Ortiz, Couture and Liddell. It is refreshing to see an event where the focus was on the next generation of mixed martial artists. There’s no question that both Junior dos Santos and Jon Jones made resounding statements about their future with UFC on Versus 1. Both vanquished their opponents with virtually little resistance on Saturday night.

As for dos Santos, he bested Gabriel Gonzaga, a fighter who only a couple of years ago faced off against Randy Couture for the heavyweight title and was looking for a second crack at the belt. With one left hook by dos Santos, that opportunity for Gonzaga disappeared. Dos Santos, still undefeated in the UFC, has beaten several worthy opponents. Cro Cop, Fabricio Werdum, Gilbert Yvel, and now Gonzaga have all succumbed to his powerful fists. So, what’s next for the heavyweight? I think the division will need to settle a bit before we know that answer entirely. Frank Mir faces Shane Carwin at UFC 111 this weekend and Brock Lesnar will likely take on the winner in July. Or if the winner needs more recoup time, Cain Velasquez will step in against Lesnar. Regardless, I see dos Santos fighting Mir, Carwin or Velasquez for his next bout. With a win, he will surely earn a title shot.

[+] EnlargeJon Jones & Brandon Vera
Jon Kopaloff/Getty ImagesJon Jones made a strong impression in his win over Brandon Vera.
Jon Jones, known for his dynamic fighting style, made the biggest statement of the evening in his bout against Brandon Vera. Maybe it was his training camp with Greg Jackson, but Jones wasn’t the dynamic stand-up fighter that we’ve seen in the past throwing spinning back elbows or flying switch kicks. Instead, he strategically went to his core strength, wrestling, to minimize Vera’s proven muay thai and kickboxing abilities. Jones immediately put Vera on his back in round one and punished him in the guard position for the entire fight. With one final elbow to the side of head, Vera quickly “turtled-up,” allowing Jones to land a final flurry of punches that ended the fight. While Vera has been beaten by some very tough opponents, including former heavyweight champs Randy Couture and Tim Sylvia, I’ve never seen him dominated like he was on Saturday night.

Although the Jones hype train has been rolling for a while now, I’m finally ready to come on board. I’d love to see him compete for the title immediately against the winner of the Lyoto Machida-Mauricio Rua title bout scheduled for UFC 113. I realize that’s a bit premature, and it’s likely that he is at least a fight or two away from a realistic light heavyweight title shot. Even with that said, I don’t see anything in his game that tells me he won’t be wearing the belt around his waist a year from now ... at the ripe old age of 23!

UFC on Versus 1: Fight Results
  • Brandon Vera vs. Jon Jones: Jones defeated Vera via TKO (elbow) at 3:19 of round 1
  • Junior Dos Santos vs. Gabriel Gonzaga: Dos Santos defeated Gonzaga via KO (punches) at 3:53 of round 1
  • Cheick Kongo vs. Paul Buentello: Kongo defeated Buentello via submission (strikes) at 1:16 of round 3
  • Alessio Sakara vs. James Irvin: Sakara defeated Irvin via TKO (punch) at 3:01 of round 1
  • Clay Guida vs. Shannon Gugerty: Guida defeated Gugerty via submission (arm-triangle choke) at 3:40 of round 2
  • Eliot Marshall vs. Vladimir Matyushenko: Matyushenko defeated Marshall via split decision
  • Duane Ludwig vs. Darren Elkins: Elkins defeated Ludwig via TKO (ankle injury) at 0:44 of round 1.
  • John Howard vs. Daniel Roberts: Howard defeated Roberts via KO (punch) at 2:01 of round 1
  • Brendan Schaub vs. Chase Gormley: Schaub defeated Gormley via TKO (punches) at 0:47 of round 1
  • Mike Pierce vs. Julio Paulino: Pierce defeated Paulino via unanimous decision
  • Erik Schafer vs. Jason Brilz: Brilz defeated Schafer via unanimous decision
  • Andrew Plante

    ESPNDallas.com
    Andrew Plante covers Mixed Martial Arts for ESPNDallas.com.

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