Pros Pick: Vera vs. Jones

The UFC picked a splendid battle to punctuate its first telecast on the Versus network Sunday with what should be a thrilling affair between contender Brandon Vera and rising sensation Jon Jones.

It’s a perfect duel between the flashy, younger fighter who improvises on the fly and the seasoned veteran who tends to do everything with textbook technique. Jones poses a threat to anyone with his unorthodox style. He throws kicks from all angles and also sends opponents flying with Greco throws. Still a relative novice to the sport, the sky appears to be the limit for him.

Vera marks the biggest test of Jones’ career. Once on the same meteoric rise that Jones is enjoying, Vera was derailed but remains a quality light heavyweight fighting to get back into title contention.

How will the fight play out? Sherdog.com caught up with several professional trainers and fighters to gauge their opinion on the matchup.

Dean Lister: Jones by KO.

Stephane Vigneault: Jon Jones by unanimous decision (due to) his unorthodox style and his reach and speed. He will dominate the three rounds of the fight.

Jay Hieron: Double knockout. Vera high kick and Jones spinning back fist (at the same time).

Gabe Ruediger: This matchup is really a toss-up. Both guys have been hyped up as "the next big thing." It’s hard to gauge how good Vera is because he seems to fight at his opponents’ level. Jones, on the other, hand has looked great, but hasn’t fought top competition. It should be interesting to see, and I like the matchup. I’m going to flip a coin … tails, it’s Jones (and I really flipped a coin).

James Zikic: Jon Jones by close decision in a mostly stand-up fight because Vera may be able to counter Jones' Greco-Roman wrestling somewhat.

Tom Gavrilos: It has the ability to be exciting on the feet. Jones has power and crazy reach. That being said, Vera has more technical stand-up, amazing Greco clinch and very, very underrated submissions.

Michael Guymon: I know people are gonna be all over the Jon Jones freight train, but I'm going with B-Vera on this one by second-round TKO.

Mike Ciesnolevicz: I think Brandon Vera is a very well-rounded fighter and has the skill set to beat just about anyone out there on a given night and I won’t be surprised if he wins this fight. But I think “Bones” Jones is gonna be too much for him. The X factor is Jones’ athleticism and unorthodox style. He is not a traditional Thai striker or boxer. He comes at you from weird angles and with good fakes, which not only set up his strikes but make his takedowns look way too easy. I have to pick Jones by TKO or decision.

Ray Elbe: Vera wins this with cleaner technique. Jones is explosive and will have his moments, but Vera has the crisper technique (and he’ll be) celebrating with a San Miguel and a plate of Adobo. Vera by decision (after) landing several brutal body kicks to win the rounds.

Ben Saunders: Man, this is one fight I can't pick because I am a really big fan of both. Vera's age and experience gives him the advantage in my opinion, but in this crazy game, anything can happen. I just know it's gonna be FIREWORKS start to finish, probably with Jones keeping the pressure.

Robin Black: That Jones fella really is unpredictable and athletic and crazy, but, theoretically, the way to counter that is with strong basics and sharp fundamentals. So many guys at this weight are dangerous for an up-and-coming super talent like Jones to face at this point in his development, but I believe Vera is a particularly tough matchup for him. Vera is fundamentally strong enough to make the right decisions when Jones brings some of his crazy heat, and talented enough to capitalize when he gets the chance. Vera has so many weapons: technical striking, high enough level wrestling to counter Jones, crazy leg kicks, dangerous clinch. And Jones is not gonna shake Vera. Vera is tough. I say Vera by decision.

Ryan White: I would like to see Jones win this fight, as I think he is a very entertaining fighter. I think the fight will start out a stand-up war with Jones taking it to the ground and working his ground-and-pound. Jones via TKO.

Jason Lambert: Vera by decision.

Matt Mitrione: Each of Bones’ extremities is like a two-week vacation. Vera is no punk, but he’s going to have to dirty box his ass off and watch out for Jon’s timely impressions of the whirling dervish. That being said, Bones (wins) by some kind of crazy-ass spinning attack followed by a bone-crushing Greco throw.

Patrick Cote: I’ll go with Jones. He’s a better wrestler and faster than Vera.

Lee Mein: I pick Vera in three, (via) inside cut kick to right elbow KO.

Juanito Ibarra: It’s a toss-up. They are looking in the mirror when they fight each other. They are a lot alike. I think Vera has the experience and he probably has the focus because of his past losses, and I see Vera edging him. But it can go either way. I expect a great fight. Not a good fight -- a great fight if they execute.

Shamar Bailey: If Vera can keep up with Jones’ speed and adapt to his funk in the cage, I think Vera will win. But if Vera is constantly trying to match Jones’ attack and not establishing his own, Vera will lose. Vera by decision.

Charlie Brenneman: I’m gonna go with Vera on this one. He is very seasoned, and he has been in there against some of the best. Although Jones is unbelievably dynamic, I don’t think he has what it takes to beat Vera. Vera’s wrestling is too good, and I think, as the grind of the fight becomes evident, Vera will take care of Jones on their feet. I’m going with a unanimous decision for Vera.

Adam Singer: I have to go with Vera on this one. I like Jones and can see him as a future champ. I think Vera is too well-rounded and experienced at this point. Vera by unanimous decision.

Pros who picked Vera: 9
Pros who picked Jones: 8
Pros who couldn’t decide: 3

You can also contact Mike Sloan at www.facebook.com/mikesloan19
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