Hype is a double edged sword. If you can’t live up to it, you’re quickly cast aside in favor of the next big thing. If you do live up to it, you get your week of hero worship and it’s on to the next big fight, and you’re forced to ride the hype train again.
Jon Jones is a frequent passenger on that train and he’ll continue to be after yet another impressive performance last night after a first round destruction of veteran Vladimir Matyushenko. Let’s go to the recap
Jon Jones def. Vladimir Matyushenko (TKO, Round One)
What did we learn?: Jones called this fight a solid step sideways in the week leading up to it, it may have been Jones’ one slip up in interviews leading up to the fight, but it was also the truth. Matyushenko is a veteran who hadn’t been stopped in a fight in 6 years, Jones did it in two minutes. A quick takedown, and a couple of guard passes was all it took for Jones. After gaining the Salaverry position, he rained down unanswered elbows until Herb Dean pulled him off at the 1:53 mark.
What’s Next for Jon Jones: Dana White said Jones was now a top 8 fighter in his weight class, Jones, perhaps getting ahead of himself said he wanted a top 3 fighter in the light-heavyweight division. One thing is clear though after last night, Joe Silva and White can’t baby Jones any longer.
I wouldn’t want to run my contenders into each other quite yet until I absolutely had to, so avoid giving Jones the winner of Ryan Bader/Rogerio Noguiera. Forrest Griffin and Rich Franklin are two viable choices for Jones, both of them former champion, and both available to fight as the co-main event for GSP vs. Koscheck in December.
What’s Next for Matyushenko: The retirement home. Matyushenko looked more uncomfortable on his back than a turtle, and is in a division full of decent wrestlers.
Yushin Okami def. Mark Munoz (Split decision)
What did we learn?: That there’s a reason that we don’t see Okami on TV too often. While you have to resepct Okami’s takedown defense and his toughness he just isn’t that exciting of a fighter. Munoz had one opportunity all fight after clipping Okami in the second round, and quickly found himself on his back after trying to swoop in for the kill. Munoz clearly took the second, Okami easily took the third over a clearly gassed Munoz. While the first round was debatable, I had Okami as the winner.
What’s next for Okami?: The guy is a grinder in every sense of the word, he should also be in some type of contention for a title shot. He’s now 10-2 in the UFC with his only loses coming to Rich Franklin and Chael Sonnen. Give him Chris Leben, or if Okami isn’t too banged up why not let him fill in for Alan Belcher against Demian Maia next month?
What’s next for Munoz?: I always thought Munoz had suspect stand up, he looked lost when he couldn’t get Okami to the floor. Opting to throw big shots in favor of attempting to pick Okami apart. Aaron Simpson would present an interesting Wrestler vs. Wrestler fight for Munoz.
Jake Ellenberger def. John Howard (TKO, Doctor Stoppage, RD 3)
What did we learn?: More of what we already knew with Ellenberger. That he’s an excellent wrestler with some pretty scary elbows and ground and pound. We learned that Howard has an insane amount of heart for even answering the bell for the third round after probably having his orbital broken in the second round. Also that he has no game off of his back whatsoever.
What’s Next for Ellenberger?: A step up in competition. Give Ellenberger a top ten opponent, perhaps a shot against John Hathaway or Dong Hyung Kim.
What’s Next for Howard: Some Jiu-Jitsu classes to go along with his heavy hands. A fight against Ben Saunders could be very entertaining.
Takinori Gomi def. Tyson Griffin (KO RD 1)
What did we learn?: That JMMA isn’t quite dead yet. Gomi looked like “The Fireball Kid” of old, when he connected with a huge right hook right on Griffin’s chin after peppering him with body shots. That Griffin needs to get over the fact that he thinks he’s a better striker than a wrestler, because it’s gotten him taken down against Evan Dunham and now knocked unconscious against Gomi.
What’s next for Gomi: The former Pride FC lightweight champ looked like he regained some of his former swagger last night. He chalked the win up to finally understanding how to fight in America and picked up a Knockout of the Night bonus for it. The UFC seems content with giving Gomi top 8 guys in the division so why not match him up with George Sotiropoulos.
What’s next for Griffin: Getting back to his wrestling roots that helped him to look at times unstoppable. Griffin’s boxing is excellent, but it’s not his strongest suit. Make his opponents fear the takedown and then let the hands go. Give him Gomi’s old opponent Joe Stevenson.
Other things of note: Charles Oliveira scored a 41 second submission win over Darren Elkins. It was the 20 year old’s UFC debut and moved his professional record to 13-0.
Oliveira quickly recovered after being slammed, locking Elkins up in a triangle choke. From there Oliveira quickly transitioned to an armbar and picked up the victory in his UFC debut.
What’s Next for Oliveria?: Expect the UFC to bring Oliveira along, much in the same way they’ve brought up Jones. Feed him a steady stream of talent that will only pose a minor threat.