UFC On Versus 1 Breakdown: Jon Jones vs. Brandon Vera
Jon “Bones” Jones, 22 years old, is on the verge of reaching light-heavyweight supremacy in the UFC. With just two years of professional MMA competition on his resume Jones is already drawing comparisons to some of the sport’s greatest champions, such as Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva.
On March 21, Jones will look to emerge as an instant title contender when he squares off against Brandon “The Truth” Vera in the main event of UFC on Versus 1.
Who has the advantage heading into this light-heavyweight battle? Let’s take a look.
Not many fighters can consistently pull off high-risk techniques, such as spinning elbows, inside the Octagon, but Jones does so with ease. It is hard to believe that Jones is still green in the striking department since he has effectively dominated the standup exchanges in all four of his UFC fights, but he has yet to compete against a striker of Vera’s caliber.
When it comes to pure stand-up fighting, few can match Vera’s ferocious Muay-Thai. He primarily fights as a southpaw but will switch his stance up often to keep his opponents guessing. Vera’s knee strikes from the Thai clinch are absolutely violent but his kicks, his leg kicks in particular, are so frightening that just the mere mention of them will have young children screaming for their mothers.
Jones has certainly impressed pundits with his diversity on the feet but his stand-up game is still in the developing stages. Vera on the other hand would hear his name mentioned on a list of the top strikers in the game today.
Brandon Vera has the advantage, 10-8
Due to his world renowned striking ability many forget that Vera is also a high-level Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu brown belt under Lloyd Irvin. While not quite the submission artist, Vera’s grappling credentials are very impressive. He was a two-time Pan American Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion and an Abu Dhabi world championship competitor.
That being said, Jones has been working diligently on his ground game with Greg Jackson and may surprise Vera on the ground. A guillotine choke submission victory over Jake O’Brian at the historic UFC 100 is proof that “Bones” does have the ability to submit his foes. Jones has also shown superb control on the mat in previous fights but that has more to do with his wrestling base than his Jiu-Jitsu.
Brandon Vera has the advantage, 10-9
A former Greco-Roman wrestling champion in high school and college, Jones is becoming synonymous for his suplexes and slams in MMA. Those who doubt Jones' strength need to look back to his most recent fight against Matt Hamill. Hamill was a three time three-time NCAA Division III National Champion and Jones tossed him around the Octagon as if he were a rag doll.
Vera also comes from a strong Greco-Roman background and he has great takedown defense to boot. In fact Randy Couture had a difficult time taking Vera down and Couture’s wrestling credentials are far superior to Jones's. Vera even managed to take Couture down late in that fight and mounted him so his takedowns should not be overlooked either.
Regardless, Vera is not the wrestler that Jones is. The freakish thing is, Jones has yet to reach his full potential and his wrestling ability improves with every fight.
Jon Jones has the advantage, 10-8
Even though he has dominated four straight opponents in the Octagon, Jones’ conditioning is questionable. In his fight with Stephan Bonnar at UFC 94, Jones appeared winded and out of breath towards the end of the fight.
Vera has always displayed excellent cardio throughout his career so it could prove disastrous for Jones should he gas out in the later rounds. On the flip side, since UFC 100, Jones has been working hard alongside cardio machines Georges St. Pierre and Rashad Evans so conditioning should not be a problem.
Brandon Vera has the advantage, 10-9
This is a much closer fight than fans are giving Vera credit for. Jones is an impressive athlete with limitless potential but Vera is not to be overlooked. As you can see “The Truth” holds advantages in three out of the four categories listed and if he ties them together correctly he should not have a problem defeating his young adversary.
However, Jones's Greco-Roman wrestling and pure explosiveness is what will win him this fight. Vera did a great job defending Couture’s takedowns but Jones is a different animal. “Bones” might not have Couture’s credentials but he pushes a much harder pace than the 46-year old UFC hall of famer.
Expect a close-exciting fight with Jones grinding out the decision or even possibly stunning Vera with a ground and pound stoppage. Either way, this will be Jones’ coming out party on his path to the UFC light-heavyweight championship.
Jon Jones by unanimous decision