Posts Tagged ‘UFC 135’

Experts’ predictions for Velasquez-Dos Santos

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Enlarge fontEnlarge font analysts Ben Fowlkes, Steven Marrocco, Jeff Wagenheim and Jon Wertheim provide their predictions for Saturday’s UFC heavyweight championship fight between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos in Anaheim, Calif.


If Velasquez is just as quick and as sharp now as he was before his long layoff following shoulder surgery, he has all the necessary tools to beat Dos Santos. The Brazilian excels when he can stand on the outside and box, but if Velasquez succeeds at getting in his face and pushing him at a higher pace than he likes, it’s going to be very difficult for him to get comfortable. That is, of course, if Velasquez fights smart and resists the urge to get away from his strengths just so he can put on a show for the network audience. I think he’ll avoid that particular pitfall, and I think dos Santos will find out that it’s a different fight when a guy like Velasquez is right on top of you for every minute of every round. Velasquez by TKO.


Whatever disadvantage Cain brings into the fight with a year-plus layoff, he makes up in the ability to take Dos Santos down and gradually grind him down over 25 minutes. If he takes a punch, that’s just going to speed Dos Santos’ trip to the mat. If Dos Santos goes for the surprise and puts Cain on his back, it’s doubtful he’ll be able to keep the position. In all but one area of the fight, Velasquez has the advantage. Velasquez by TKO.


Curious to see what the UFC and Fox, having committed to airing just this one fight, would do with the rest of the hour-long time slot, I’m almost rooting for a 10-second knockout. Almost. This clash is just too appealing to not want more and more — and I do expect to see more than a flash knockout. I foresee a little circling and stalking, then a few dangerously exhilarating exchanges, then a Velasquez takedown into ground control. Will Junior get up? If so, we’ll have a fight on our hands. Either way, I think Cain can do too much in too many positions for dos Santos to handle. Velasquez by TKO.


This has the potential to be a smashing network debut — a lively, multidemensional fight. Or a technical, stall-and-sprawl ground game special — “Wait, who’s doing what to who?” — that could confuse and turn off the casual fan. Obviously, if you root for the sport, you root for the former scenario. One of the best boxers in the UFC, JDS could score an early KO. But assuming Velasquez can avert danger and take the fight to the ground where his wrestling kicks in, I like him especially the longer the fight goes. Velasquez by decision.

  • Published On Nov 11, 2011
  • Stock Watch: UFC 135

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    Jon Jones (above) made his first defense of the UFC light heavyweight title on Saturday, dispensing of Quinton Jackson. (Hector Acevedo/

    As expected, 24-year-old phenom Jon Jones is still the man after UFC 135. In the first defense of his title, he beat an in-shape and motivated Quinton “Rampage” Jackson to keep his strap, six months after he throttled Mauricio “Shogun” Rua to become the youngest champ in the UFC’s modern era.

    Like all of Jones’ fights in the octagon, the fight was one-sided. At no point was there imminent danger and at no point was Jackson able, as he’d hoped, to test the champ’s untested chin.

    Jackson had posited Jones would crumble to exhaustion in later rounds. Instead, it was he who crumbled and quit, overwhelmed in the fourth by a relentless procession of kicks, punches, and elbows. He tapped to a choke in that championship frame. But it was an afterthought; he checked out at the end of the third when he started clock-watching.

    So begins the Jon Jones era. Or does it? A crew like The Usual Suspects is just waiting to cut the kid from his perch and take his gold loot. So far, he’s given us no reason to believe he won’t parallel, and perhaps eclipse, the rise of welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre. There are significant threats, but at the moment, Jones’ 84-and-a-half-inch wingspan casts a long shadow over the division.

    Let’s take a brief look at the murderer’s row:

    Rashad Evans: The former champ, who’s next in line, is in his physical prime and has the speed to get inside and do damage with quick hands. With his wrestling, he could be the first person to put Jones on his back. Moreover, he could keep the champ there. It’s the foundation of Evans’ confidence leading into the yet-unscheduled bout, a do-over from a ill-fated meeting at UFC 133 that fractured the camp in which both trained. What happened under Greg Jackson’s roof when they sparred, before Evans accused Jones of betrayal and flew the coop, is a truth that will only be uncovered if walls talk. Evans says he made Jones quit. Jones says he could have handled Evans had he gone full speed. Training partners won’t break the code of silence endemic to MMA gyms, at least for now. So we’re left to what we’ve seen thus far from Evans. And if that’s any indication of the damage he could do to Jones, he could make things interesting.

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  • Published On Sep 26, 2011
  • Jones heads UFC’s charge into mainstream

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    The UFC is banking on the dynamic athleticism of light heavyweight champ Jon Jones to help take the organization to the next level. (Greg Nelson/SI)

    Is the sports world ready for Jon Jones?

    This is not a question that will be answered in the main event of Saturday night’s UFC 135 in Denver, a fight in which the 24-year-old will put his shiny new UFC light heavyweight championship belt on the line for the first time against Quinton Jackson. This is not a question about “Bones” the fighter.

    OK, sure, what Jones does in the octagon does ultimately matter. This young man who breezed from phenom to champion in about the time it takes him to wheel through a spinning backfist could, with a loss or even an ordinary performance, instantly lose his mojo. But let’s not even go there. At this point, the mixed martial arts world is utterly transfixed by Jones, whose presence transcends his skills in striking and grappling. We’re going to assume, for the sake of argument, that that does not change this weekend.

    But when we investigate the readiness of the sports world to latch onto the star of Jones, we’re not talking about the MMA world. We’re looking at the bigger picture, the sports world splashed across flat screens 24/7 showing enough flavors of sports channels to make Baskin-Robbins jealous. The UFC has been creeping onto that stage for a while now — a highlight clip here and a quick Q&A there. But emergence into the sports mainstream shifts into high gear in November when the Dana White Athletic Club makes its network TV debut on Fox.

    Even though he’s fighting this weekend, not on the UFC on Fox 1 card Nov. 12 in Anaheim, Calif., Jon Jones is a big part of the push into the hearts and souls of the sporting public. He is an athlete unlike any who have come before in his sport. He’s not merely a skilled, dangerous fighter. You watch him perform in the cage and you get the feeling he just as well could be excelling on a basketball court or football field, as do both his older brother, who plays in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens, and his younger bro, who plays college ball at Syracuse. Heck, he’s from upstate New York, so hockey isn’t out of the question. Nor is baseball, really, with Cooperstown being a couple hours’ drive from where he grew up.

    It’s not that Bones has demonstrated an aptitude for any of those sports. In fact, at a fan’s suggestion on Twitter that he’s got the body and athleticism to play wide receiver, Jones responded, “Haha I can’t catch.” But that’s OK. He doesn’t have to catch. He just has to perform and carry himself like enough of an athlete to be measured alongside the stars who shine in all of the other prominent sports venues.

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  • Published On Sep 23, 2011
  • Experts’ predictions for UFC 135

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    Jon Jones (above) is favored in his first defense of the UFC light heavyweight championship against Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. (Greg Nelson/SI) analysts Ben Fowlkes, Steven Marrocco, Jeff Wagenheim and Jon Wertheim provide their predictions for UFC 135 on Saturday in Denver.

    Jon Jones vs. Quinton Jackson

    FOWLKES: Jackson won’t even get within hooking distance of the faster, lankier Jones. If he lasts as long as Rua did before getting rolled up, I’ll be slightly amazed. Jones by TKO.

    MARROCCO: Jones has three dimensions to Jackson’s two. Jackson fancies a knockout, but it’s doubtful he’ll ever get close enough to land. Jones by TKO. 

    WAGENHEIM: “Rampage” trash talks a good game, but when the jawing stops and the jostling starts, “Bones” will have his say … and have his way. Jones by TKO.

    WERTHEIM: Feels a bit like Evans-Tito (and Jones-Shogun): a versatile contender versus a thirtysomething name far from his prime. Jones is too young, versatile and athletic. Jones by TKO.

    Matt Hughes vs. Josh Koscheck

    FOWLKES: I just don’t see what tools Hughes has to threaten Koscheck with at this point. He’ll get out-Hughes’d in what could very well be his final UFC fight. Koscheck by TKO.

    MARROCCO: The urgency isn’t there for Hughes, and his speed and power are on the decline. Could be curtains on Saturday. Koscheck by TKO.

    WAGENHEIM: Five years ago, fighting Hughes would have meant a long night for Kos. But at this point he should make short work of the past champ. Koscheck by TKO.

    WERTHEIM: Long layoff for two veterans and wrestling-based fighters. Though coming on short notice, Koscheck is younger and faster. Koscheck by decision.

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  • Published On Sep 22, 2011
  • Hughes preps for last stand at UFC 135

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    Two-time UFC welterweight champion Matt Hughes, who turns 38 in October, fights Josh Koscheck on Saturday night. (Mark J. Rebilas/US Presswire)

    DENVER — Matt Hughes won’t say whether his bout with Josh Koscheck at UFC 135 will be his last. He’ll hint at it. He’ll tell you his wife thinks he should hang it up. He’ll claim that he’s not looking for another long-term contract with the UFC once this one is fulfilled on Saturday night. But he won’t come out and say it.

    Maybe that’s because, somewhere deep in that obstinate fighter’s heart of his, he still dreams of glory. If Hughes gets a taste of it this weekend, UFC president Dana White predicted, don’t expect him to go anywhere just yet.

    “There is no way in hell he will retire if he beats Koscheck on Saturday night,” White said following Wednesday’s pre-fight press conference inside the Pepsi Center.

    Of course, that’s a big if.

    On paper, Koscheck is a lot like the Hughes of five or six years ago, and not just because of their shared penchant for needling opponents through sly, smirking lips. Koscheck, like Hughes, is a work horse in the gym who believes in being tough first and everything else second. He’s a powerful, accomplished wrestler (probably a better wrestler than Hughes even in his prime, if we’re being totally honest) who can do everything else well enough to keep opponents guessing.

    Koscheck first aimed for a fight with the former UFC welterweight champ about two years ago, and he wasn’t exactly delicate about it. The fight never materialized, but Hughes insisted that was because the UFC hadn’t offered it to him. Then a broken hand scratched Diego Sanchez from the UFC 135 fight card and Koscheck stepped in on three weeks’ notice for the fight with Hughes that he had long since stopped asking for.

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  • Published On Sep 22, 2011