We are going to keep this train rolling with previews of the main card for “UFC 126: Silva vs. Belfort” which takes place this Saturday, Feb. 5.
You can read yesterday’s preview of the Ellenberger vs. Rocha right here: UFC 126 Preview: Is Carlos Rocha a trap fight for Jake Ellenberger?
Initially, it was a fight that I wasn’t that big of a fan of when it was announced. Simply because I felt that the UFC would be using one rising star to eliminate another, but whichever tastes defeat on Saturday night is young enough to rebound from a loss.
Let’s get it.
Jon Jones comes into this fight with a 11-1 record, with the one loss being a ‘disqualification’ loss due to using illegal blows against Matt Hamill back in December 2009. He has amassed seven KO/TKO’s and two wins via submission.
Jones brings great athleticism, great length, solid wrestling, and unorthodox strikes into this match up. Jones has won his last two fights in a row, dismantling MMA veterans Brandon Vera and Vladimir Matyushenko in the very first round.
Ryan Bader comes into this fight with a perfect 12-0 record, and is also the season eight winner of The Ultimate Ffighter reality show. He has amassed five KO/TKO’s and three wins via submission. Bader brings solid wrestling, KO power, and athleticism into the match-up as well. Bader has won two of his UFC fights via decision and the other two via KO/TKO.
Both guys have wrestling backgrounds with Jones being a New York state champion in high school. He also won a junior college national championship in New York. Bader was a two time state champion in high school and went on to wrestle in college at Arizona State University.
The winner of this fight is certainly in title contention, probably needing one more win before getting a shot at the light heavyweight championship. So this fight is huge in the grand scheme of things. Let’s look at the keys to victory for each fighter.
Keys To Victory
At LinesMaker (www.linesmaker.com) Jon Jones is the (-325) betting favorite. Jones’ path to victory is fairly simple in my opinion. He needs to avoid the power of Ryan Bader, and avoid being put on his back via Bader’s take-downs. At the same time he’ll need to utilize that 84″ reach of his to set up take-downs of his own.
We’ve seen how vicious Jones can be in someone’s guard with those elbows, just ask Matt Hamill, Brandon Vera and Matyushenko. Jones has been very aggressive in his past few fights, and he’ll want to continue that to keep Bader on the defensive.
Bader will want to get inside at all costs, or he’ll be eating punches and kicks from a distance all night. If he’s able to get inside, he could potentially put Jones on his back or throw power shots from inside that could do some damage.
He’d probably be better served by using the cage to accomplish this strategy. He needs to keep the pressure on Jones at all times (provided Bader knows his cardio is up to par), because Jones hasn’t gone past the first round since June 2009.
How Will It End?
Jones has Greg Jackson in his corner, so I’m sure that they have a game-plan for Bader. I think Jones is going to come out and try to set the pace of this fight early as he did against Matyushenko in his last fight.
If Bader is in shape and can weather the early storm, he has a shot with the power he possesses. However, I think the game-plan, Jones’ length, and his aggressiveness will pay off on Saturday night.
I see Jones putting the pressure on Bader early on, and finishing him late in the fight. However, if Bader is able to take advantage of Jones being overly aggressive he could certainly land some take-downs and steal some rounds. This fight should be great. Who you got?