The Hit List: The Top 5 Moments from UFC 182
Daniel Cormier surprised Jon Jones by effectively striking on the outside and inside with him. Jones shocked Cormier by out-wrestling him. The champion made public his plan to finally get serious about his career, and Donald Cerrone kept his incredible streak going.
And so we focus on those two fights. Here are our five top moments from the headliners of UFC 182. Check them out and let us know yours in the comments section and on Twitter.
Jon Jones’ wrestling
We wondered out loud before this bout if Jones’ wrestling may be a lot better than we realized, and good enough to make life difficult for the two-time Olympic wrestler Cormier. However you scored the fight Saturday night, Jones’ wrestling was indeed indisputably excellent.
Cormier landed one big slam in the fifth round but other than that, the takedowns all belonged to Jones, including several consecutive ones in the fourth round up against the cage. Jon Jones may never have made it to Division-I NCAA wrestling or international competition as he intended, but he clearly has world-class wrestling skills, and he applies them expertly in the world of MMA.
Daniel Cormier’s striking
If observers were shocked at Jones’ wrestling success against Cormier, they should have also been astounded at Cormier’s striking success against the defending champion.
Cormier out-struck Jones on the outside with a crisp and accurate jab.
Cormier out-struck Jones on the inside by hitting first and last in clinch exchanges with nasty uppercuts.
The wrestler’s all-around game continued to shine, even in defeat, at UFC 182.
Jon Jones commits to (finally) training like a professional
Consider Jon Jones’ historic accomplishments in the sport of MMA thus far. The record number of title defenses, the stack of wins over all-time greats.
Now, consider that he’s done all this without working very hard. Sure, Jones would find that last statement offensive, as there’s no doubt that the champ gives it his all every training camp.
Heck, he’s got the gas tank to show for it. However, time and again, it’s been revealed that Jones’ comprehensive preparation is sorely lacking.
After nearly getting submitted in the first round by Vitor Belfort in 2012, Jones’ coach admitted that the champ rarely trained in jiu-jitsu. Yes, jiu-jitsu, the base style of the entire sport of mixed martial arts.
Fight after fight, we’ve watched Jones go into training camp out of shape. This time around, he explained that it’s because he simply does not train in between fights.
Fighters push so hard in training camps that they certainly need to take time to rest their nervous systems and adrenal glands — to say nothing of muscles, ligaments, and joints — when they don’t have a fight signed. That said, most champions in any sport who manage to sustain their greatness over a long period of time do skill work year-round and take great care of their health.
Jon Jones is spectacular, and he has managed to do great things despite not eating well, partying too much and not doing a ton of skill work or exercise in between fights. As such, it may be impossible to tell at this point, but he’s not reaching his full development potential.
If Jones wants to join the likes of Randy Couture and other athletes who have extended their greatness into athletic old age, he’ll need to follow the leads of champions like that, and stay in shape all year round, eat healthy, and work on his weaknesses every day, whether or not he’s got a fight coming up.
Thankfully, Jones says he’s going to do just that. In the post-fight press conference, Jones said he’s moved his family to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he does his training camps, and that he can’t wait to jump right back into the gym to stay in shape and improve his skills.
The greats know that there is no "offseason." Now that Jones understands that, scary as it may sound, he might just get a whole lot better, or at least last longer in the sport.
Heavyweights eyeing Jon Jones
You know you’re doing some special things when fighters in other weight divisions start taunting you. That’s what’s happening to Jon Jones.
Despite the fact that Jones says he has no trouble making 205 pounds, and that he has many stiff challenges left in the division, many are calling for him to move up in weight. "Bones" says he’d fight Cormier teammate and UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez in "a heartbeat."
Interim UFC heavyweight champ Fabricio Werdum took to Twitter Saturday night to give a backhanded compliment to the 205-pounder: "@JonnyBones good fight tonight against @dc_mma but better you stay there at your division," Werdum wrote.
The bad news for Jones is that he’s got some bigger, scary guys chomping at the bit to fight him. The good news for Jones is that he’s got plenty of options and is in-demand.
Donald Cerrone wins sixth straight
We’d already chosen Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone as one of our comeback fighters of 2014 before he beat Myles Jury in impressive fashion at UFC 182 to start off 2015. The unanimous decision was Cerrone’s sixth straight win, and it solidified his position as the hottest lightweight in the division.
With Rafael Dos Anjos (the last man to beat Cerrone) getting the next shot at champ Anthony Pettis and the injured Khabib Nuramagomedov already deserving the next one after that, Cerrone may have to keep winning for a while before he gets his crack at gold. But the fighter has already asked to move up in weight class in just a few weeks to fight top welterweight contender Matt Brown in Colorado, so he doesn’t seem to mind.
It will be a thrill to continue to watch just how far Cerrone can take this streak of his.