UFC on Versus Preview: Has Brandon Vera Succeeded in Cracking Jon Jones’ Facade of Maturity?

Jon Jones is only 22 years old. He's a father of two. He's a professional mixed martial artist whose career is on the rise.…

By: Nate Wilcox | 14 years ago
UFC on Versus Preview: Has Brandon Vera Succeeded in Cracking Jon Jones’ Facade of Maturity?
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Jon Jones is only 22 years old. He’s a father of two. He’s a professional mixed martial artist whose career is on the rise. This Thomas Gerbasi piece from UFC.com paints a portrait of an almost preternaturally mature young man:

Yes, he’s only 22 years old. But maturity like that doesn’t come overnight; it’s developed over years and years, and for Jones it came from not only his family, but his mentors and coaches.

“It was just the way I was brought up,” he said. “My wrestling coach in high school, Mr. Jack Stanbro, he always taught us to act with class no matter what happens. I’ve taken losses before in my wrestling career, and he was the type of coach where every time we showed up at a meet we had to dress up in a suit and a tie and if we lost he would never want to see bad sportsmanship shown. It’s who I am, it’s embedded deep within me, and it’s what I’ve been raised around.”

“I have to realize that I’ve got kids at home, so it really keeps me in the house and keeps me grounded,” said Jones, who has two children with his fiancée Jessie. “If I don’t make it in this sport, I put my family in jeopardy. I can’t afford to lose, and I can’t afford to not take this seriously.”

He’s not just mature, but he’s also a student of the game. In a sport where too many fighters refuse to game plan or study tape on their opponents, Jones is a grind who logs hour after hour watching his opponents:

“I felt like I had Matt Hamill figured out,” said Jones. “I watched so much film on him that I knew his tendencies, then I got his timing down, and I knew when he’d drop his hands, or when he’d do this or that. I had a lot of faith in my training camp as well. We have great strategists and that started things off, and we’ve got guys who worked on specific techniques, attacked my weaknesses, and emulated my opponent.”

Jones also has a religious fervor when it comes to watching film, and with Vera having 11 UFC fights thus far, that’s plenty of footage for him to dig in to.

“That’s why the Brandon Vera fight is so exciting because I’ve watched every one of his fights,” he said. “I’ve watched all of his losses at least 50 times. I’ve studied his tendencies, what it takes to make him break, all that stuff.”

But Jones’ behavior at yesterday’s weigh-ins showed more in common with Diego Sanchez than Randy Couture, per Steve Cofield:

Jon Jones has been unflappable to this point in his young UFC career. The kid is only 22 years old and carries himself in and out of the cage like he’s had 15 fights with the promotion. There’s always a calm about him. That was until today when showed a little too much emotion during the weigh-in for his fight against Brandon Vera. Jones got in Vera’s face prompting UFC president Dana White to separate the fighters. Jones was still bouncing off the walls during a quickie interview with UFC analyst Joe Rogan.

Is there reason to worry about Jones? Is the pressure finally getting him? Jones said he’s fine, it’s just that Vera rubs him the wrong way.

If Brandon Vera truly has gotten inside the head of the much-hyped Jon Jones, he’s already landed the first scoring blow of the fight.

We’ll find out tonight if Jones can shrug it off or not.

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About the author
Nate Wilcox
Nate Wilcox

Nate Wilcox is the founding editor of BloodyElbow.com. As such he has hired every editor and writer to work for the site. Wilcox’s writing for BE is known for its emphasis on MMA history, the evolution of fighting techniques and strong opinions. Wilcox developed the SBN MMA consensus rankings which were featured in USA Today from 2009 to 2011. Before founding BE, Wilcox was a political operative working for such figures as Senators John Kerry and Mark Warner and an early political blogger. He is the co-author of Netroots Rising, a history of the political blogosphere from 2003 to 2007. Wilcox also hosts the Let It Roll podcast on music history for the Pantheon Podcast Network.

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