The Severe Spotlight: Jon Jones

There can only be one. 1120 days elapsed between his last outing at UFC 247.  A dubious, unfamiliarly lacklustre performance from the emblem of dominance at 205lbs. At 35 years of age, with that amount of time out of the cage, looking to elevate to the heavyweight division, fighting a man in the style of Bon Gamin. The questions circled about how he would carry the weight, how would the time out affect him, does he even still want this?

Two minutes and four seconds of reminiscent, “Thanos” esc dominance answered a lot of those questions. Jones crouches in his usual pre-fight procession until Marc Goddard calls a start to the action, no sooner did he touch gloves with the number one contender Cyril Gane did he slam a left low kick to the calf of his opponent. Jones, if nothing more will refuse to relinquish any inch of dominance. The glove touch was a soft pat, almost a condescendingly small attribution of sportsmanship before a swift return to reality for both men was assumed by the low kick.

That domination continued with his footwork, he inched toward Gane, out flanking him, and out angling him at every turn. Gane, feeling crowded flicks out a low kick that’s low. Low kicks happen all the time in MMA, but the first strike that you throw landing low sends signals – and not good ones. The kick itself looked crowded, looked flustered, lacked power generation or angle, not a good start for the Frenchman. Jones continues to maraud forward with his high guard but long splayed stance, not only is he confident Gane will not initiate a grappling exchange, more interestingly he is using the long protrusion to split the centre line of Gane. This centre line disruption accentuates the pressure. Gane looks to go toward one of his best weapons, the body kick. Jones reads it early and slams a right hand down the pipe.

So right away Jones has dominated the footwork battle, the angle battle, dropped a strong low kick on Gane, and now shown in the very first instance of the body kick being thrown, that there is a big right hand coming down the pipe should he attempt to throw it. Dominance. Pure dominance. The next interesting thing Jones is choosing to do is to root himself to the spot when Gane is looking to throw; he does this for two reasons. The primary is to look big, to be dominant, to insinuate to Gane that nothing he has for him gives him enough of a cause for concern the move out of the way, this is something Gane is not used too one bit. The second, and the more technical point is that Jones is happy to root himself to the spot, allow Gane to throw and use it to counter. Counter he does when Gane opts for a low kick which is caught and countered with another right hand; Gane slips the right hand, but again the alarm bells are ringing.

Anything thrown is not only countered, but anything thrown is not even deemed worthy of a backstep. Mental battles are Jones’ forte and you can see that in full display here.

4:21 on the clock in round one and Jones looks to enter the pocket, as he steps in he steps on the toes of Gane. Gane had thrown a shot to entice Jones into the pocket, but the step on the toes is interesting. There is a chance that it is accidental, but this is Jon Jones; and it being a method to slow Gane’s retreat out of the pocket and to ensure Jones gets the angle he wants should not be a surprise either.

The standing of the ground and the belief of his ability to counter comes to fruition in what is the beginning of the end for Gane. Jones is deep on the penetration leg, Gane can feel the pressure and wants to find some space. He launches into a left hand, that again Jones see’s coming. A duck under gives Jones access to Gane’s hips. However I don’t think Jones had expected Gane to launch so much into the left hand, leaving himself off balance, and showing his back. Jones snatches up the back bodylock and begins to sag his weight through the centre of Gane’s gravity. Gane does not opt to four point, he does not opt to go to a knee, he is off balanced to his right hand side – Jones feels this and adjusts the sagging to Gane’s right hip. This causes Gane is faceplant, having to use energy to build up to a referee’s position.

As Gane builds, Jones wraps a leg torque around the right leg of Gane and lands some shots. In this dogfight position it is often commonly seen that the defensive fighter will put a whizzer in place to stop back exposure and to gain leverage. Jones places his head in the perfect position, sinking his weight into Gane to deny the use of the whizzer and keep Gane focussed on fighting for stability. Jones laces his right hand through to the left shin of Gane, looking to tip him. Here again, Gane makes a mistake and looks to gain a whizzer. This reach causes the centre of gravity to buckle and gives Jones the momentum he needs to tilt Gane back to a hip.

Gane builds to his hip, but in a full back bodylock. Jones laces in a single hook and feeds it to the far hamstring, made famous by Renzo Gracie. This gives a lower half cross-body control and allows for the attacker to have more use with their hands. Jones looks to climb the back of Gane, however the camera angle is in an awkward position to see how Gane is actually grounded. From this point on, the multiple steps behind Gane is in the grappling exchange is evident. Jones crowds him, and Gane does nothing to alleviate Jones from taking mount.

Jones goes searching for an arm-in guillotine, but Gane does a good job of hip posting and tucking his chin. Jones releases the choking hand from the chinstrap and punches his arm-in hand deeper. Landing a couple of shots on Gane with the choking hand, Gane is forced to move his head; in that moving, Jones laces the choking arm through, wraps up the choke, drags his lat and tricep over the cranium of Gane and squeezes. The tap comes quickly.

This type of choke is a difficult one to defend – the hips are so close it is difficult to post on them to create space, given that guillotines of the arm-in variation are commonly finished from the bottom and the counter being to drape the arm in the choke over the shoulder isn’t possible due to the method Jones uses to finish it, and the posture is severely disrupted due to being wedged against the cage.

Having said all of that, it is the perfect type of choke to punctuate Jones’ character as a fighter and the dominance of this performance. All hail the King.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.