Jon Jones Vs. Brandon Vera: Is The Hype Greater Than The Truth?
Next weekend's clash between Jon "Bones" Jones and Brandon "The Truth" Vera is supposed to be the big break through fight for Jon Jones, the man who many believe is the next big thing in the light-heavyweight division.
Should Jones beat Vera next Saturday all of that will cease, and Jones will be right in the mix of the light-heavyweight contender-ship.
Yet although Jones' stock is sky-high right now, his oponnent, Brandon Vera stands as a sharp reminder of the kind of slip that happens twixt the cup and the lip.
It wasn't too long ago that Vera was in a similar position to the one that Jones occupies now.
After a dominant victory over Frank Mir, many people were predicting a big future for Vera. Vera had shown great striking skills, a strong wrestling background and a natural ability in submission grappling.
Only a few years ago, people were taking Vera seriously when he said that he could hold titles in both the heavyweight and light-heavyweight divisions.
Now though, it looks unlikely that Vera will ever get close to those heights.
Despite his overall skill set, something was missing. While fights remain on the feet, Vera is often complacent, which allows him to get outworked by his opponents, and although he has good overall grappling skills, he's rarely been able to use them offensively.
The truth about Vera is that even after the Frank Mir fight, he had not yet truly been put to the test against the kind of fighters who could cause him problems.
Jon Jones might be a better overall prospect than Vera once was, but he still may yet encounter some of the obstacles that stopped the hype that once surrounded Vera.
Jones has been impressive in his last fights in making the most of his grappling opportunities against O'Brien and Hamill, but he's still got a lot of room for improvement.
Jones has some of the flashiest strikes in the UFC's light-heavyweight division, but he's still lacking in overall offensive out-put. So far, his attack on the feet has been wild and infrequent. Against the better strikers in the division, he may struggle to win rounds if he isn't able to increase the quantity of strikes he throws and stay away from some of the wild attacks that will leave him more open for counters.
Jones has done well on the ground, but he hasn't yet had to deal with a submission specialist who could really threaten him there.
Also, Jones has yet to absorb any really powerful punches, so it's still far too early to project exactly how high Jon Jones can climb.
The general feeling about this fight is that Jones should be able to out-hustle Vera on the feet, and possibly score some takedowns to score a decision victory.
Despite my feeling that Vera should still be the more technical striker in this fight, Vera also allowed himself to be out-struck for large sections of his fight against Keith Jardine, so I don't feel overly confident in his ability to dominate the striking.
Everything in my head points to this fight being a relatively good stylistic matchup for Jones, since Vera isn't the kind of opponent who seems likely to really test Jones' chin, his inconsistent offense, or submission savvy.
Jon Jones should win against Brandon Vera, and the only thing more predictable than that is that when he does win, people will be pouring praise upon Jones and declaring him to be the future king of the division.
For those people ready to crown Jones following his presumed win over Brandon Vera, I would urge caution, as we have yet to see him face the style of fighter who might be able to cause him problems.