There is a large number of MMA fans and pundits picking Jon “Bones” Jones (12-1) to defeat UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (19-4) in their upcoming UFC 128 title fight on March 19.
Many believe the ease in which the 23-year-old Jones has handled recent opponents such as Brandon Vera, Vladimir Matyushenko, and most recently, Ryan Bader, proves he is not only deserving of a title shot, but he will be too much for “Shogun”.
Even the odds-makers have Jones the favorite at -225 and Rua at +185.
There is one person who is not riding the Jon Jones hype train all the way to the title though, and that is former light heavyweight champ Lyoto Machida (16-2), the last person to defeat Rua.
Rua took Machida’s title with a first round knockout in May of last year at UFC 113. Just six months earlier Machida had gone five full rounds with Rua, winning a highly controversial unanimous decision.
He has stood across the cage and battled “Shogun” Rua toe-to-toe for nearly 30-minutes total, and he is not convinced the young superstar Jones is ready for this level, not yet.
Machida explained during an interview with Tatame:
“When you enter the cage, specially against a guy like Jones, of course he can win, but I believe Shogun is more prepared and plays harder. Technically, he’s more complete than Jon Jones. He has a good ground game, he’s a good striker, he knows everything. Everybody’s looking at Jon Jones’ side, who’s a young guy, but I don’t agree. He just seems to have an advantage because of his conditioning. Shogun is also young and has conditions to do a great fight. Shogun is more likely to win then Jon Jones.”
Machida believes Jones may have better conditioning than “Shogun” but feels “Shogun” is technically the more complete fighter. Both of those statements are probably true.
He also reminds us that “Shogun” has a good ground game, and that is true. He is a BJJ black belt and could be a danger off his back. The only thing is, he has only ever submitted one person, and that was Kevin Randleman via kneebar back in 2006.
So, what do you think, is “Shogun” really more likely to win, as Machida believes, or is Jon Jones going to run through the champion like he has everyone else lately? Or will Jones truly get tested by the leg kicks and Muay Thai of “Shogun, or maybe even submitted”?