5 Takeaways From UFC 197: Jon Jones, the Disappearing Man

April 25, 2016

The big story coming out of UFC 197 was not the return of Jon “Bones” Jones, but the rise of Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson.

With Conor McGregor on the shelf, and Jones looking look a shell of his old self, Georges St-Pierre missing and Anderson Silva having faded, the UFC is looking for the next “big” thing.

Ovince Saint Preux got his UFC moment and squandered it. Henry Cejudo got a taste of what a body punch can do to even the toughest of tough, and please never let Daniel Cormier call a Jon Jones fight again. Like ever. This guy made Bobby “The Brain” Heenan look unbiased.

5. Ovince Saint Preux Underwhelms

Despite Daniel Cormier’s best efforts to make us think OSP was in the fight, he wasn’t and he squandered his big chance. OSP did not leave it all in the cage. He survived. Barely. Jones almost put OSP away in the third round. Now to Saint Preux’s credit, he took the fight on three week’s notice, and he was fighting a guy who just a year ago was considered the best in the world and greatest fighter of all time. Saint Preux took the “I am going to do my best to avoid getting Chael Sonnen’d” route in this fight. It’s not really his fault. OSP apparently broke his arm in the second round, so maybe that’s why he fought the way he did. He didn’t want to take many chances. He wanted to survive. But fighters who look to survive aren’t remembered as the greatest warriors of all time. Wanderlei Silva, Vitor Belfort, Mark Hunt, now those guys are fighters. Win or lose, they fight and that’s why people will remember their names. OSP at 33 years old will be hard-pressed to ever win the UFC light heavyweight championship. That’s OK. He was just happy to get the title shot.

4. Henry Cejudo Will Get Better

Henry Cejudo did not belong in the Octagon with Demetrious Johnson. Not yet, anyway. It’ doesn’t matter that Cejudo is an Olympic gold medalist. He was not ready, and the UFC wasted him and a promotional opportunity by throwing him in the cage with Johnson with just four UFC fights, all of them victories by decisions. In what world does this record deserve a title shot, much less against Johnson? It doesn’t matter that he won a gold medal. Cejudo was rushed and he paid the price.  Even though his answer to his embarrassing loss is to tell Johnson to move up to bantamweight, the real answer is for Cejudo to get a few fights under his belt, work on his Jiu-Jitsu inside the cage, and figure out how to finish a fight. Why hadn’t Cejudo fought guys like John Dodson, Joseph Benavidez or John Moraga? Cejudo needs to reset, fight more and then come back and fight Johnson again. The result might be much different.

3. The Fall of Anthony Pettis

Cejudo may come back, but Anthony Pettis may be done. Talk about a guy who has absolutely imploded. It makes no sense. He upset Benson Henderson and Gilbert Melendez. And he submitted those two guys, a remarkable feat. From 2011 to 2014, Pettis was looking like the top guy in MMA. Since then, he lost to Rafael Dos Anjos, Eddie Alvarez and now Edson Barboza. The loss to Barboza hits hard. He’s not in the same league as the two prior losses. Pettis, at 29, can come back, but the injury prone fighter needs a victory quickly, and he needs to avoid getting hurt. He fights like his heart isn’t into it anymore. He needs to bounce back quickly against a guy like Michael Johnson or Tony Ferguson. A win now, against anyone, is all that matters.

2. Mighty Mouse is Not the Best 

John Dodson twice. Ian McCall twice. Joseph Benavidez twice. Six fights with three guys. Demetrious Johnson has won 11 in a row, which is massively impressive, but let’s face it, the UFC flyweight division isn’t exactly the UFC middleweight division and booming with massive amounts of talent. The last fight Johnson lost was against Dominick Cruz, and that was in the bantamweight division. To test whether Johnson is truly the best he’s gonna have to move up and beat some larger guys. In boxing, you would never even think of calling a fighter the best in the world, or the greatest of all time, unless they were a heavyweight or unless they showed ability to win fights in multiple divisions. Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Oscar de la Hoya, Sugar Shane Mosely, Bernard Hopkins, Floyd Mayweather Jr., all jumped several divisions. Johnson has incredible speed, good power for a small guy and great in-cage, real-time reactions, but he hasn’t shown adversity under pressure, he hasn’t rallied back after losing a round, he hasn’t stepped up and taken someone’s title. Robbie Lawler deserves the title of best in the world before Johnson does. Compare the list of guys Lawler has beat compared to Johnson.

1. Jon Jones, the Disappearing Man

Jon Jones is not a shot fighter. He is still dangerous. But let’s be honest — this guy is NOT the Jon Jones who obliterated Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Lyoto Machida and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. In fact, Jones has not finished a fight since 2013. And that was Chael Sonnen, who talked his way into a fight that he didn’t deserve. Before that he defeated Vitor Belfort, who again, was way over the hill, even then. Jones may have won a disputed decision over Alexander Gustafsson in 2013, but he clearly came out of that fight a loser. He hasn’t been the same since. Yes, he manhandled Daniel Cormier, got by Glover Teixeira and then coasted to victory against Ovince Saint Preux. But he hasn’t looked incredible in those fights. He should have finished all three of those guys, and certainly OSP. Jones has logged 20 rounds in his past four fights.  It took him 12 fights and two years to log 20 rounds to start his career. Jones will be 29 later this year and he’s got a lot of miles under his belt. Coupled with his problems outside the cage, this is not a recipe for a fighter who has long career ahead of him. Daniel Cormier is in a perfect spot to defeat Jon Jones at UFC 200 or whenever. And if it is not Cormier, it will be the next guy, or someone soon. Jones was great, but he’s slowing down. OSP lost to Ryan Bader, Glover Teixeira and Gegard Mousasi. If we’re being honest, the old Jones wouldn’t have let OSP see the championship rounds.

Follow Joshua Molina on Twitter: @JECMolina.

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