“Shogun” Rua (left) is the champion, but the pros like Jon Jones at UFC 128. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Considering how much success Mauricio “Shogun” Rua has enjoyed in his mixed martial arts career, it may come as a surprise to some to see him as an underdog to Jon Jones, a challenger with 13 professional appearances under his belt.
The two light heavyweights will square off in the UFC 128 main event on Saturday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., as Rua defends his crown for the first time since he captured it from Lyoto Machida 10 months ago. In June, the 29-year-old Brazilian underwent another knee surgery -- his third since joining the UFC in 2007.
Sherdog.com recently caught up with dozens of professional trainers and fighters to gauge their opinions on the Shogun-Jones showdown:
Nick Thompson: The fight between Jones and Rua reminds me of a struggle through which [Derrick] Noble and I once went. Noble and I were just boys at the time, and we were riding on a plane that crashed on an isolated island. Noble found a conch shell and used it to call together all of the fellow surviving boys. I was elected leader of the group, with the goals of having fun until rescue and maintaining a fire so as to be rescued. A rival faction, the hunters, however, quickly formed. Simultaneously, the boys began to believe a monster inhabited the island. The hunters went to catch a wild hog and did so, but in doing so doing, they abandoned the fire and we missed a chance at rescue. This -- and the fear of the monster -- only caused the division between my group and the hunters to grow until we were two separate camps. Eventually, the hunters raided our camp in order to steal Noble’s glasses -- the instrument my camp used to light our fire. In the raid, the hunters killed Noble by smashing his head with a rock, and I was forced to flee. Just as the hunters launched a manhunt for me, we were rescued. Yes sir, that was quite a struggle.
Fabricio Werdum: I believe in experience and Shogun’s victory.
Mike Constantino: Very tough fight to break down. Shogun has been in there and beaten the best, and he is Jones’ toughest test yet for standup and ferocity. Jones has all of the tools to be a champion. If I have to pick, I say Jones by ground-and-pound.
Keith Berry: Well, now that I just got a bunch of pain meds in my system, I feel like this is the perfect time for a Pros Pick; my appendix burst, and I’m in a hospital bed. Anyways, it’s time for a little truth on the Jones vs. Rua fight. There’s going to be a feeling-out period, then Rua will use kicks to score points and [there will be] a fourth-round Rua finish via TKO. But it will be a controversial stoppage, and their second fight will be even better.
Brian Warren: The new champ will be “Bones” Jones because he’s a Christian. Enough said, suckas.
Roy Arriola: When I put both side by side, there is no comparison. Rua equals confidence, experience, battle tested. Easy pick. But then you look at Jones. He is young [and] hungry but not yet ready for what comes with the huge spotlight. I don’t think Jones has what it takes to survive in the later rounds. Maybe this is gut-check time. I think so. Rua wins by TKO, round two. On this night, I will not be watching to see these two warriors do battle; it will only be to watch Urijah Faber make his UFC debut.
Marlon Sandro: I think that Shogun will submit him. He is more versatile on the ground and has more weapons, even underneath. Although Jones’ takedowns are good, I think he’ll end up submitted by Shogun.
Ron Foster: Out of all the Pros Picks I’ve done, this is the hardest one that I have had to do. Jones is a monster: great striking [and] great ground, but he has never faced a fighter like Shogun. The funny thing about it is I can say the exact same thing about Shogun. I can’t pick a winner in the fight, but the fans will win for sure. I think I’m going to keep my foot out of my mouth and say I can’t pick a winner.
Ricardo Liborio: Hard to believe that Shogun is an underdog. Shogun by TKO.
Georgi Karakhanyan: Jones by TKO in round four.
Shamar Bailey: I’m picking Shogun in this one. He has proven himself over and over against top competition. Jones hasn’t faced the same level of competition, but his talent is unlimited. It will be a test between unlimited talent on one side and experience on the other. I’m rollin’ the dice on experience. Shogun for the win, as long as he doesn’t get grounded-and-pounded.
Hank Marducas: Shogun, second-round TKO.
Billy MacDonald: Bones will get truly pressured for the first time in his professional fight career but will come up with something crazy and take it via TKO in round three.
Kultar Gill: This could be one of the most interesting and entertaining fights in UFC history; or I can see Jones holding Shogun down for the entire five rounds and winning a decision by superior wrestling. I can’t pick this time.
Tom Gavrilos: Jones is going to be champion -- one day. This could end in so many ways on either side, but I just have to go with Shogun. Shogun may have faded late in the past, but Jones has never seen a round four in his short career. Shogun is too much too early in Jones’ future stellar career. Reach [goes to] Jones, but striking [goes to] Shogun, wrestling [to] Jones but Brazilian jiu-jitsu [to] Shogun. I believe Shogun’s meteoric rise to Pride champion at 23 was based heavily on technique. In contrast, while Jones is very gifted and becoming better every day, he has more so been aided by his physical attributes and athleticism.
Pedro Rizzo: I think that Shogun wins by knockout in the second round.
Benji Radach: Well, it’s hard to stop the momentum Jones has going, but I gotta pull for Rua. I fought his brother, “Ninja,” and the dude was a tough SOB. Mauricio has been in there with the best, so I gotta pull for the champ.
Mike Ciesnolevicz: I am cheering for Shogun to win this fight, and I’m hoping his diverse skillset and experience in big fights will carry him through. I think Bones Jones comes off a bit too cocky and arrogant. I feel like most of the MMA world is cheering for Shogun, but the reality is Jones is really unorthodox, has solid wrestling, great athleticism and a strong lanky frame, which makes him a nightmare for most guys. He isn’t afraid to take risks and go for it, but I’m hoping Shogun can pull this one off by KO. Unfortunately, common sense tells me Bones Jones wins by TKO from elbows after securing a few takedowns.
Sergio Cunha: Shogun is better standing and on the ground, has more volume and fighting experience. He will win with heart.
Gabe Ruediger: Interesting match up. I lean towards Jones due to his wrestling. The only thing that Jones hasn’t proven is how he handles being behind. He has dominated every opponent, so there has been no chance [to do so]. I hope, regardless of the outcome, that he will have to battle some adversity.
Jason Von Flue: The last time [UFC President] Dana White made the rough comment, “This guy is the future of this weight class,” GSP went on to lose to Matt Hughes. But in doing so, he gained from it, and look at what he has accomplished since. That being said, Dana made similar comments about Jones, and I expect a similar outcome: Rua to win this fight, [with] Jones learning from the loss and becoming a better fighter for it.
Continue Reading » Bones Slightly Favored