How would Strikeforce's Lightheavy weights fare against Jon Jones?Posted on March 30, 2011, 06:27 AM by Daniel Cassidy
With the recent announcement of Zuffa's purchase of Strikeforce, fans have speculated over how the merger will eventually work, despite Dana White promising "business as usual". With the announcement, every dream match up comes a step closer to reality. Now instead of fans asking if two fighters will ever fight, we are wondering WHEN we get to see these fights under the Zuffa banner.
Following on from his sheer destruction of now Former UFC Champion and PRIDE legend, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, fans and writers alike are left scratching their heads as to who could give the new Lightheavy Weight Champion a run for his money. At just 23 years of age, Jones has shown very few chinks in his armour. With a future bout with former Greg Jackson team mate Rashad Evans lined up, if "Suga" joins the likes of Shogun is falling to "Bones", who then is left? Rampage Jackson, despite having killer hands, has been shown to struggle against wrestlers. Randy Couture, despite being so well rounded, is 47 years old. Lyoto Machida might have an elusiveness that could trouble Jones, but ultimately would fall in similar fashion. Even Phil Davis proved this weekend that despite having such a high level of wrestling, he still needs to make big adjustments to his MMA game to be considered a worthy challenger.
So with the UFC division, in my humble opinion at least, struggling to find an answer to the Jon Jones enigma, perhaps newly acquired Strikeforce could provide some worthy challengers for Jones?
Despite being 40 years old, Rings, UFC, PRIDE and now Strikeforce legend Dan Henderson proved just a few weeks ago that he has what it takes to hang with todays top tier of Lightheavy weights. Weathering an early storm, Hendo put his Olympic calibre wrestling to good use to wear down Feijao Cavalcante is their bout at the start of March. Henderson proved that his skill set is still dangerous inside the cage. He proved many doubters wrong, especially when he was written off following a loss to Jake Shields at Middleweight. He then made the right decision to once again move to Lightheavy weight, where he demolished "Babalu", before he faced Cavalcante for the title.
In a bout against the UFC Champ, Jones would no doubt struggle with Henderson's wrestling. He may have faced Ryan Bader, but has never faced anyone with the wrestling quality of Henderson. As well as this, he is known for what Mauro Ranallo calls "The H-Bomb". Alongside his heavy hands and wrestling skills, Hendo has never once, in his 35 fight career been knocked out.
"King Mo" Lawal is a similar fighter to Henderson, albeit with a few differences. Like the veteran, Lawal is known for his wrestling credentials, coupled with massive knockout power. Lawal holds a disturbingly large number of wrestling awards, and is regarded as one of the best wrestlers in MMA today. At 30 years old, no longer regarded as a prospect, Mo has had 8 fights, only losing by KO against Feijao Cavalcante in an upset. In his past bouts Mo has used his superior wrestling to wear down his opponents, including a dominating 5 round decision over Gegard Mousasi. In his first MMA fight, he faced veteran Travis Wiuff, and knocked him out in the first round. Of his 7 wins, only two come from decision, while 4 of his knockout wins have come in the first round.
Against Jones, Lawal would have the options of trying to wrestle of strike, giving him an edge in unpredictability. I have no doubt that the NCAA champ would have little problems putting Jones on his back, and proved against Mousasi, that he has no problem keeping an opponent there.
At just 25, the Dutch-Armenian has fought a very impressive 34 fights, with 30 wins, 3 losses and 1 draw. Already a veteran by those standards, despite his young age, Mousasi has a definite edge against most opponents he will ever face. Skilled with submissions as well as on his feet, and holds a variety of title belts. He is the DREAM Middleweight and Lightheavy weight Champ, and Former Strikeforce Lightheavy weight Champion. He most recently proved his stand up skills were on par with K1 levels, when he defeated K1 stand out Kayataro.
In a fight with Jones, while Mousasi might have the better striking, he proved he struggles against wrestlers, and that could be a big factor. If he could keep it standing, I would favour Mousasi, but as soon as it goes to the ground the fight would be all Jones.
Training out of Black House is a big thing in MMA, and the world renowned training camp would no doubt have the Former Strikeforce Champion well prepared for a bout against Jones. With a record of 10-3, Feijao might not seem out of the ordinary, especially given he has lost against Mike Kyle via KO, but make no mistake, he is a master of the clinch, and possesses sledgehammer like hands, seen in his loss against Dan Henderson, where he dropped his opponent. He troubled the veteran a number of times before succumbing to a trademark "H-Bomb" in the third round. Using his vicious Muay Thai skills, Feijao broke King Mo in two, displaying his exceptional clinch work, and knocking out an opponent who has never been beat.
In a potential fight with Jones, Feijao has proved time and time again that he has extreme power is his hands, and on the right day could stop anyone. However, with Jones' reach and power, he could struggle to use his clinch to full effect. While he has a decent chance, Jones would be too well rounded for Feijao, unless Cavalcante can keep it standing, where he could trouble Bones.
Call this one the wild card, if you will. While his stand up credentials are sub par, he has an array of submission skills that could tap out almost any MMA fighter on the planet. Multi time ADCC Champion, Gracie is arguably the greatest grappler still active in the world. Currently 4-0 in his MMA career, the Strikeforce Lightheavy weight has won all four fights by submission, his last 3 by rear naked choke.
If he were to be paired with Jones,I have no doubt he would been picked apart in the stand up, and would struggle to take down Jones. But, and it's a big but, if the fight hit the matt, Roger would easily tap out Jones.
Image Source: Tracy Lee | Yahoo Sports