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September 30, 2011

UFC's Demetrious Johnson wants to be top dog

The Ultimate Fighting Championship comes to the nation’s capital on Saturday at UFC on Versus 6 from Washington. In the main event, champion Dominick Cruz (18-1) takes on Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson (10-1) in a UFC bantamweight title fight.

Many consider Cruz to be one of the top five pound-for-pound fighters in the world. He recently avenged his only career loss by defeating Urijah Faber at UFC 132 in July.

A quote from Mark Twain best describes his next opponent, Johnson, “It's not the size of the dog in the fight; it's the size of the fight in the dog.” Johnson is the smallest fighter in the UFC at 5 feet 3 and 135 pounds. But don’t let his size fool you: He has dominated taller fighters his entire career. He is best known for his body slams and relentless energy in the cage.

"I’m a smaller guy, so I train at a high pace," Johnson said. “I’m really a hype person, so after training for three months for a UFC fight, I’m ready to go.”

Johnson was scheduled to face Renan Barão at UFC 130, but Johnson's opponent was changed to top contender Miguel Torres after Torres' originally scheduled opponent, Brad Pickett, was forced off the card because of an injury. Torres was a huge step up in competition for Johnson, but he used his superior wrestling ability to win a 29-28 unanimous decision. Johnson broke his fibula in the second round from a checked leg kick but continued to fight.

After beating Torres, the former WEC bantamweight champion, Johnson was given a UFC title shot against Cruz.

"Dominick Cruz has been beating everybody in the weight class, and I have been beating the majority of the guys, too," Johnson said. "I just been climbing the ladder, and it’s awesome that the UFC has gave me the opportunity to fight for a title."

To have a shot at taking the title from Cruz, he must sustain a feverish pace for all five rounds. With his cardio training, he’s capable of doing so.

"I do a lot of swimming, weightlifting, cross-fit and Muay Thai," Johnson said. "I do a lot of things that make me a better athlete. So when I step into the octagon, my speed is through the roof, my cardio is good, my heart is really strong and my lungs have gone through hell."

Johnson finished by saying, "I’m going to go out there and solve the puzzle and see what happens."

Posted by Kevin Richardson at 5:07 AM | | Comments (0)
        

September 25, 2011

UFC champion Jon Jones dominates Rampage

UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones defended his title Saturday for the first time against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at UFC 135 in Denver. Jones outfought Jackson for three rounds before he submitted him at 1:14 of the fourth round. 

Jackson didn’t make any excuses for the loss. “I’m in the best shape of my life,” he said. “I thought he was all hype, but the kid is good. My hat is off to him. I did my best. This is the best Rampage ever, and he had me memorized.”

You could see from the start of the fight that Jackson's game plan was flawed. Between rounds his corner would yell out instructions for him to get within punching range.  

How can you get within punching range when your opponent has an 11-inch reach advantage? 

From the start of the fight Jones used his legs, hands and elbows to dominate Jackson.

Jones came out in the first round in a low wrestling crouch, hoping to take Jackson down. “I had a little epiphany last night,” Jones said. “I have a really good misdirection single-leg takedown, where you fake to the right leg and shoot to the left leg, but it didn’t workout the way I planned. 

Jones was able to get Jackson against the cage in the first round and throw elbows and knees. Jackson complained to referee Josh Rosenthal that he was hit in the groin, but the ref took no action. Jones ended the round with a wheel kick that didn’t connect, but it showed Jackson his arsenal of kicks. 

In the second, Jones continued to land outside leg kicks and straight jabs on Jackson. In the round, Jones landed a sidekick to the midsection of Rampage. Just before the end of the round, Jones tried to land a triangle choke, but Jackson is saved by the end of the round.

Jackson team's didn’t adjust its game plan when it was obvious that he couldn’t win trying to get within punching range to connect a big punch. This was the difference in the fight.

In the third, Jones once again dominated the round with kicks and takedowns. Jackson was able to land some leg kicks, but Jones had an answered by taking him down and mounting him. Jones landed an elbow on Jackson, creating a large cut of his right eye. Jones missed a flying knee attempt but landed a fast left.  

“I was very confident and a couple of times I was getting desperate cause I wasn’t sticking to my game plan like I was trained to do,” Jackson said. “It was frustrating me. Jon’s presence and his reach is really hard to deal with.”

In the fourth round, Jones drove Jackson down against the base of the cage. Jackson tried to turn so that Jones wouldn’t reopen the cut over his eye, but Jones took his back. He sunk in his hooks to flatten Jackson out and executed a rear-naked choke. Jackson tapped at 1:14 of the fourth round. It’s was the first time Jackson had been submitted since Kazushi Sakuraba submitted him in 2001. 

After the fight ring commentator Joe Rogan had Jon Jones and his next opponent, Rashad Evans, in the ring to talk about their bout.

“I’m not gonna say much leading up to this fight, I’m just gonna prove it,” Jones said. “He (Evans) has ruined my special night twice in a row now.”   

During the post fight press conference, UFC president Dana White was asked about who he thought in the 205-pound division could handle Jones. He mentioned Evans and then Dan Anderson and Maurício “Shogun” Rua. "Rashad Evans looked terrific against Tito Ortiz in their last fight," White said.

 

Really, Evans looked terrific over an old Tito Ortiz, who took the fight on late notice.

The one fighter White failed to mention was Lyoto Machida. He beat Shogun and Tito Ortiz, he knocked out Evans and he lost a bad decision to Rampage. Rampage even thought he lost that fight. Machida has an unorthodox style which would work well against Jones and he has great defense. He trains at times with Anderson Silva, so it would be a good fight before the fans call for a Super Fight between Silva and Jones.

Who do you think should be Jon Jones' next opponent? 

Posted by Kevin Richardson at 9:06 AM | | Comments (12)
        

September 20, 2011

Jon Jones: Brotherly love

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                                                                                                 Getty Images

 

Long before UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones had dreams of winning a title belt or goals of becoming a mixed martial artist, his religion and his older brother Arthur Jones motivated him to strive to be the best. When he was in high school competing for a New York state wrestling championship, it was Arthur -- a defensive lineman on the Ravens -- who gave him words of encouragement and motivation.

So, when Jon set out to win the light heavyweight championship, it was only fitting that Arthur was once again in his corner.

“It was great to have my brother to motivate me to win my first world title, because it was him that motivated me to win my first state championship,” Jon said.

As a professional football player, Arthur would normally spend his off-season at the Ravens' training facility in Owings Mills. But because of the lockout he had to workout on his own and prepare himself for the upcoming season. 

Arthur had also set goals for himself this year, and it was his little brother Jon who kept him motivated.

Jon is an avid reader of motivational books and quotes. You can often find him quoting verses from the Bible to quotes from Bruce Lee. So when Arthur was aiming to rekindle the dominance he had shown at Syracuse, it was no surprise who he talked to.

“Basically knowing where I came from when I was at Syracuse, I've always been that guy that the coach could depend on to be out there to dominate," Arthur said. "Last year I was playing and healing up from injuries from college. Learning a new system, it was like being in college all over again as a freshman. Watching our last game against Pittsburgh from the sideline, knowing that I felt that I could help. So, I didn’t take anytime off and went straight into training and hopefully it pays off this year."

Jon had just won the biggest fight of his MMA career, defeating Ryan Bader, who at the time was 12-0. Jon won the fight in exciting fashion, taking home the “Submission of the Night” bonus by landing a guillotine choke in the second round. After the fight, Jon was given opportunity to fight for the World Light-Heavyweight Championship against Mauricio Rua. But, he would have only 41 days to train for the fight.

Around the same time the Ravens football season had just wrapped up and Arthur was told what the team was expecting from him during the NFL lockout.

“He knew what he had to do in the off-season when he left here," Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said. " Especially with the lockout, [defensive line] coach [Clarence] Brooks made it perfectly clear, here is what we expect you."

Arthur joined Jon in Albuquerque, N.M., in the high attitudes of the desert, to cross train at Greg Jackson’s mixed martial arts gym. Arthur intended to get in better shape, but still try and take it as a vacation.

“But [Jon] didn’t let me do that," Arthur said. "After missing a workout one day, Jon told me that, ‘laziness is contagious’. Our daily routine was boxing in the morning, wrestling in the afternoon, followed by weightlifting. On Fridays, we ran the sand dunes for cardio, which was a mountain full of sand. We did that about 4-5 times, and it was rough. We did so many different things that my body feels so alive now. I was able to drop around 9 percent body fat.”

Along with that, Jon shared with Arthur a lesson he learned from Jackson, an MMA guru.

“Greg Jackson taught me how to dig deep and embrace pain and suffering, and the warrior spirit," Jon said. "So that’s something I got to show [Arthur]. That’s something he would not have gotten at a college football practice. I gave him a little bit of what Ray Lewis has.

"Ray Lewis doesn’t look at football as a football game or running sprints and lifting heavy weights. Ray Lewis looks at it as warfare. It’s surprising that he has that mentality because he’s never been a martial artist. With Arthur being around Greg Jackson’s and this high altitude training and this desert, it taught him how to look at football as more than a game but as warfare.”

So, in some ways, the lockout it turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the brothers.

“This summer we got to combine our work ethics together and our lifestyles together," Jon said. "Arthur and me we were together everyday in high school, we walked to school together, we had our first job together being paperboys in the winter. We’ve done everything together. Even throughout our wrestling careers we both made it to the finals together.”

Jon is the youngest UFC champion ever and many believe that when his career over, he maybe be one of the greatest MMA fighters ever.

But despite all the glitz and glamour Jon has experience as a mixed martial artist, His life has not been without it’s low points.

“I hold so strong to my religion, even though I’m not the best person or the cleanest person and I have my dirt and I do things that are unnecessary at times," he said. "Despite of all my downfalls, that’s what keeps me strong and believing in God. I’ve been in so many lows and horrible spots in my life and I’ve always come out and things always work out for me. Even when I was at my lowest low, a college drop out that got his girlfriend pregnant. I always believe that God wouldn’t put too much on me that I couldn’t bare. So, I just kept on believing in God and believe that as long as I had good will, good intentions and that I was working hard as well, that it would come true for me. I always try to do the right things and I try to give him the glory, he continues to bless me and let good things happen in my life."

On Saturday, Jon makes his first title defense against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at UFC 135 in Denver.

His biggest fan will be 782 miles away in St. Louis, cheering him on before the Ravens face the Rams the following day.

Posted by Kevin Richardson at 11:20 AM | | Comments (2)
        
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Kevin Richardson has been a fan of mixed martial arts competition ever since UFC 3, when 600-pound sumo wrestler Emmanuel Yarborough was beaten by Keith Hackney. Kevin will cover the world of MMA — in Baltimore, nationally and internationally. He plans to take readers into the locker rooms and MMA schools, where they'll hear from local fighters and trainers. If you have a news tip or suggestions for the blog, please e-mail him.

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