Jon Jones (center) file photo: Dave Mandel | Sherdog.com
The Weekly Wrap walks readers through the last seven days in MMA, recapping and putting into context the week's top story, important news and notable quotes.
Jon Jones shed the prospect tag in his latest outing for the second consecutive time, stopping a veteran fighter in a fashion few ever have. His Aug. 1 win over Vladimir Matyushenko, positioned as a main attraction on a Versus special that drew extensive coverage and landed Jones on ESPN’s “Sportscenter,” drove home the point to people who didn’t already know: “Bones” is inevitably a force. The television ratings for the fight, though, indicated there’s more work to do before the general public is fully invested in his rise.
Jones, 23, stopped Matyushenko faster than any opponent the Belarusian has faced in 30 fights, needing just 1:52 to land a spin kick to the body, take the former title challenger down with a knee tap, pass into side control, and drop 10 elbows from the crucifix position until referee Herb Dean stepped in and waved it off. Jones deferred from calling a particular person out after the fight, but did say he hopes UFC matchmakers “really kick it up with me.” Trainer Greg Jackson tried to temper expectations, feeling Jones has more room to develop; Jones said his jiu-jitsu needs the most work.
UFC President Dana White said Jones is now among the top eight light heavyweights in his mind, but said it wouldn’t be clear who he faces until the dust settles on an upcoming slate of relevant 205-pound fights. White also tagged Jones "smart, good looking and badass, and he's going to make a lot of money." Jones, who only started training for MMA two years ago, took home $46,000 for the win. Matyushenko made $31,000 in defeat.
The bout headlined the UFC’s second offering on Versus, emanating from San Diego. The television audience shrunk from the UFC’s debut on the network in March, from an average audience of 1.24 million to 991,000 viewers. Jones headlined the March event against Brandon Vera. The event drew 8,132 to the San Diego Sports Arena for a $490,000 gate. Versus devoted its post-fight “Daily Line” talk show to coverage of the event, lauding Jones from all angles and bringing him on for an interview. During commercials, the network ran a split screen featuring footage of fighters in their corners and statistics like their average fight times. The show was also notable for the return of referee “Big” John McCarthy to the Octagon, his first UFC assignment in nearly three years.
A subplot of the evening was Takanori Gomi and Yushin Okami making impressive stands after a series of recent stateside fights had cast Japanese fighters as a downtrodden lot.
After showing little spark in being shut out in his UFC debut against Kenny Florian, Gomi came to San Diego with a better cage comfort level and a fuller frame. He was anything but flat, uncorking a fast, wide right hook as opponent Tyson Griffin let go a right leg kick. The shot landed flush and sent Griffin down hard in just over one minute, the only time the Xtreme Couture product has been stopped. Gomi took home a $40,000 bonus for best knockout on top of his $80,000 purse, making his $120,000 haul the biggest of the evening. Okami also proved game, taking a split decision that many had 30-27 in his favor against Mark Munoz. Okami appeared to easily stuff the NCAA national champion’s shot and get up when he was taken off his feet. Both fighters dropped each other with punches during the fight, which judge Cecil Peoples gave to Munoz 29-28.
The live televised card was rounded out by a win by Jake Ellenberger creating a brutal hematoma on the side of John Howard’s head that led to a third-round doctor’s stoppage. Ellenberger had worked a steady diet of double-legs to take the hard-charging Howard out of his element and landed a series of short elbows that did the fight-ending damage. The athletic commission shelved Howard for 180 days due to a possible facial fracture.
Also picking up wins at UFC on Versus 2 were Jacob Volkmann (unanimous decision over Paul Kelly); Matt Riddle (second-round TKO over DaMarques Johnson); Igor Pokrajac (first-round rear-naked choke submission over James Irvin); Brian Stann (third-round triangle choke submission over Mike Massenzio); Charles Oliveira (first-round armbar submission over Darren Elkins) and Rob Kimmons (unanimous decision over Steve Steinbeiss).
Oliveira banked the $40,000 bonus and made the Versus broadcast for his swift tapping of Elkins, while Stann and Massenzio -- returning to the cage after an injury and illness-induced 20-month absence -- were deemed the fight of the night bonus recipients after Stann overcame a two-round deficit to catch the triangle.