The dust has settled, Jon Jones (20-1) is still UFC light heavyweight — sans the controversy — and we still don’t if the champ has reached his full potential yet.
But, here are 5 things we do know following a night of fights near our capital in Baltimore, Maryland…
5. Don’t underestimate the undercard: In the first fight of the night on UFC Fight Pass, fans learned a new name — Chris Beal. Beal took on Patrick Williams in a fight that could have been considered Fight of the Night had it not been for Takanori Gomi and Isaac Vallie-Flagg taking the honors. Beal and Williams went back and forth in the first round and part of the second; until Beal caught Williams with a beautiful flying knee that put him out cold. That should get the attention of Joe Silva as Beal could move up quickly in the bantamweight division.
4. Being a UFC vet matters: In the first fight on the main card, featherweight Max Holloway was an underdog to Andre Fili who was making his second appearance in the UFC. It was the eighth time Holloway was in the Octagon and even though he was rocked in the first round, he came out strong in the next two, eventually forcing a tap-out by Fili late in the third. The next fight saw lightweight Jim Miller making his seventeenth appearance to Yancy Medeiros’ third. Miller submitted the Hawaiian in the first round, who had taken the fight on one week’s notice. I picked both Hawaiians to win, with the UFC veteran Holloway taking it. It pays to be a UFC vet.
3. Jiu-Jitsu is for everyone: Luke Rockhold’s three wins out of his last five victories came way via knockout. But once again Rockhold showed his jiu-jitsu game submitting Tim Boetsch with a kimura in the first. Boetsch had only been submitted once in his entire career, and Rockhold had him in an inverted triangle first before setting up the kimura to end the fight. That was Rockhold’s seventh win by submission and he will be a force to reckon with at the middleweight level. A rematch and win over Vitor Belfort could put him in the driver’s seat for a title shot.
2. Rumble is back: It’s been over two years since Anthony “Rumble” Johnson had been in the UFC, but all he did was go 6-0 while he was away. Instead of bringing Johnson back to fight at welterweight (which he had most of his career), Johnson’s return to the Octagon came at light heavyweight against Phil Davis, ranked #4 in the division’s standings. What did “Rumble” do? He made Davis look like he was the one returning, battering him for three rounds and cruising to an easy decision victory. The win should propel him into the top ten and into title contender talk.
1. A new prodigy?: Okay, there’s only one prodigy, B.J. Penn, but can we label Jon “Bones” Jones a prodigy as well? I say 100%! Even though he may be losing a few fans by the public’s new perception of him, all he does is win. With his lone loss being a disqualification, he trails only Tito Ortiz in UFC light heavyweight wins with 14 (Ortiz at 15.) He did break the record for title defenses for a light heavyweight and is still the youngest champion to ever become champion in the UFC. The scary thing is: he might be getting better. After taking a controversial win over Alexander Gustafsson, he beat up Glover Teixeira at UFC 172. Teixeira had won 20 straight before his fight with Jones, and the fight wasn’t even close. Let’s see how part two with Gustafsson pans out when the two are most likely to meet later this year.
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