Saturday, September 24, 2011

UFC 135: The Next Generation is now


It wasn't necessarily The Prodigal Son returning home, but UFC 135 taking place in Denver, Colorado where UFC 1 took place 18 years ago was a memorable occasion. For one, they had a lot more fans in The Pepsi Center than the approximately 2,500 people they had back in the McNichol's Arena in '93. The other reason had to do with reigning light-heavyweight champion Jon 'Bones' Jones (pictured).

Jones (14-1, 8 KO's 4 subs), only 24 years of age, put on a dominant display well beyond his years against former champ Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson (32-9, 14 KO's 7 subs). Just as I expected, Jones who is multi-faceted in his game, used a cerebral approach and pretty much toyed with the one-dimensional Jackson for three and a half rounds. Boxing, kick-boxing, wrestling, Muay-Thai clinch work and jiu-jitsu, Jones displayed it all until he ended up winning by submission with a rear naked choke against the always tough to finish Rampage.

Jackson may be one-dimensional, but that one dimension, his heavy hands, usually works against most opponents. However, this is not your average 205 pounder, as Jones stands at a lean 6'4" and has a freakish 84 inch reach. Thus, Rampage was trying in vain to land one of his patented haymakers as he couldn't reach his target. It's almost like fighting a human sized tarantula.

When asked by Joe Rogan after the fight what he thought about Jones, Rampage responded by saying, "He's the real deal; I don't know if there any light-heavyweights out there that can beat him." Yet, Jones next scheduled opponent, former teammate Rashad Evans feels otherwise as he told Joe Rogan afterwards in the cage, "I'm glad the UFC is making this fight, I'm looking forward to it." Jones response, "I'm not saying anything till the fight. This is the second time he's ruined my special moment in the cage."

In the co-main event, sadly it was another legend that has fallen prey to Father Time as welterweight (170 lbs.) Josh 'Kos' Koscheck (16-5, 5 KO's 5 subs) finished former two-time champion Matt Hughes (46-9, 17 KO's 18 subs) via TKO @ 4:59 of the first round. Although Hughes looked competitive early, it was only a matter of time once Koscheck opened up. That's two first round KO losses in a row for Hughes; yet when asked what's next by Joe Rogan, Hughes surprisingly said, "I'm not retiring; I'm going to ask the UFC to put me on the shelf and then we'll see what happens."

Finally, I hate to say I told you so, but in the first fight of the night that's just what happened. In my preview I said that Japanese icon Takanori 'The Fireball Kid' Gomi (32-8, 12 KO's 6 subs) would probably lose to Nate Diaz (14-7, 3 KO's 10 subs) in the first round either by triangle choke or arm bar; Diaz obliged by applying both before finishing him with an arm bar at the end of the first round. However, that was only after he owned Gomi on the feet with beautiful boxing combinations. Diaz looks great back at lightweight (155 lbs.) where he truly belongs.

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