Jon Jones (right) file photo: Sherdog.com
Thank the camera in the sky for an end to our violence drought and thank UFC matchmaking for the quality night of fights that was UFC on Versus 2: Jones vs. Matyushenko.
The fallout has made for some interesting questions in nearly every weight class and may be remembered as the night that many a future contender came into their own (I’m looking at you Matt Riddle and Charles Oliveira). Take your time and pick through the rubble, though, and there are three stories that will color the rest of 2010 and perhaps beyond.
Please Bones, Continue Hurting ‘Em
It felt almost perfunctory. Jon Jones tickled Vladimir Matyushenko’s ribs with a spinning back kick, hit an all-too-easy trip into top control and promptly cut loose on the Belarusian’s grill, forcing a stoppage at 1:52 of the first round.
One of the easiest ways to recognize a truly special prospect is to see what they do when a major organization picks them up. Looking at the way the UFC has matched Jones thus far, it’s clear that they’re desperate to see someone push him even if it’s for a moment or two.
The problem with the current version of “Bones” is that no one can seem to last more than a few minutes with him. It makes for an altogether unique problem from a matchmaking perspective and one that puts the UFC on a tight rope narrower than Ann Coulter’s worldview.
In the hours since Jones ran over Matyushenko like an invisible man, I’ve heard MMA media members call for matches with everyone from Chuck Liddell to Forrest Griffin. After what Jones did tonight, it’ll be awfully interesting to see who will step up to the plate against MMA’s wunderkind.
Stay on Script or Get Ignored
When Mark Munoz dropped Yushin Okami in the second round of their fight, Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan reacted like they had just witnessed Joe Louis lay out Max Schmeling in Yankee Stadium. In the third round Okami returned the favor, but it took several moments for the booth to even acknowledge the fact that Munoz had hit the deck.
Without a doubt odd, but I was ready to write it off as the usual incompetence instead of the byproduct of behind the scenes Machiavellianism. Then came the post-fight replay. Instead of focusing on the perfect counterpunch that sent Munoz into ballerina mode, Goldberg focused on the sloppy haymaker that Munoz supposedly “just missed.”
By now anyone who watches the UFC with any regularity is accustomed to misinformation from the booth whether it be overstating a fighter’s credentials or misrepresenting fights that took place outside the Octagon.
However, the commentary for this particular fight was insulting to the intelligence of anyone with even one functioning ear. Obviously Zuffa could put two monkeys wearing bowler hats in the booth and they’d still have the best product out there. That still doesn’t mean fans should be fine with the booth turning into some modern day “Ministry of Truth.”
The Fireball Kid Melts Griffin
There has never been any question about Takanori Gomi’s talent. He dominated Shooto’s lightweight division with his suffocating top control and turned into a kill-shot KO machine in Pride Bushido. What really nuked Gomi’s apple cart was his well-known preference for Sapporo and nightclubs over water and the gym.
The sight of an obviously in-shape Gomi peaked the attention of his ex-bandwagon members, but watching “The Fireball Kid” rip hooks to Tyson Griffin’s body and draw him further inside the pocket had me flashing back to late nights spent watching Bushido’s ace light up his contemporaries.
Just as my memory was trying to sync up with reality, Gomi absolutely leveled Griffin with a single punch. Quite the feat considering none of Griffin’s past opponents -- a murderer’s row that includes three past or present titleholders in Zuffa promotions -- had been able to stop him.
Hoping for a true renaissance from Gomi is a distinctly far-fetched possibility. I’d give it about the same chances as anyone outside of Miami ever liking LeBron James again, but at least now it’s a possibility. Considering this is the same guy that looked to be headed for the pink-slip chopping block, watching him flatten a world-class fighter was an altogether unexpected pleasure and one that could signal the genesis of a comeback story for the ages.