Jones (top) file photo: Dave Mandel | Sherdog.com
As the MMA masses slowly rock back and forth in anticipation of this Sunday’s UFC on Versus 2: Jones vs. Matyushenko event, it’s time to get back into full-on fight mode.
Besides stocking up on alcohol and all manner of processed foodstuffs, that means getting your knowledge squared up proper. So get ready for another round of grown man analysis. Where exactly you’ll get it, I don’t know.
Jon Jones vs. Vladimir Matyushenko
In a stunning change of pace, the UFC is actually handling one of their many all-universe prospects with care. Instead of feeding Jones to the mutant wolf pack waiting at the top of the light heavyweight division, they’re giving him a quality test against Matyushenko.
The test isn’t so much whether or not Jones can beat Matyushenko -- he clearly can -- but rather just how good Jones is at this point. It may seem unusual to dismiss Matyushenko, but he doesn’t have much to offer Jones at this point in their respective careers. Even at his best, Matyushenko couldn’t out-wrestle Tito Ortiz and Jones exists in a different fistic universe than Ortiz.
Jones is a brilliant clinch artist who has a strong fundamental understanding of clinch wrestling that allows him to execute techniques you simply don’t see at this level. Once he gets people down, it has a tendency to turn ugly as his telephone pole limbs allow him to generate massive downward power from unusual angles. Compare that to Matyushenko, who has never had much to offer from top control and has lost much of his physical abilities after well over a decade of combat sport competition.
No one has come anywhere close to getting Jones down, and Matyushenko is going to have major problems with his young counterpart’s movement. In his bout with Jake O’Brien especially, it was clear that Jones’ speedy footwork will present major issues for “The Janitor.” Given Matyushenko’s plodding footwork and overall lack of athleticism, the supposed wrestling battle seems to be more of a wrestling massacre in the making.
A stand-up fight looks even worse for the Belarusian, as the differential in speed will be most apparent in exchanges. Even assuming anything resembling an exchange will take place seems like a stretch. Jones will have an almost unfair reach advantage that will only further enhance his ability to remain elusive on the feet. This leaves Matyushenko no choice but to get into risky exchanges and hope he can ferret out a takedown opportunity.
That’s the sort of game plan that almost never works out. It surely isn’t going to work against someone of Jones’ caliber. Expect something only a few steps removed from a sparring match as Jones takes the opportunity to test out his ever-evolving game against a live opponent.