Jon Jones vs. Tyson Fury? What are we doing here?

The Roundtable is now seated to offer some views on the week's shenanigans and flimflams, including a proposed Jon Jones vs. Tyson Fury fight.

By: Victor Rodriguez | 4 months ago
Jon Jones vs. Tyson Fury? What are we doing here?
Tyson Fury, probably laughing at the idea of fighting Jon Jones. IMAGO/ZUMA Wire

Welcome back, folks. The Roundtable has convened yet again. This week, we’ve got combat sports crossover absurdity thanks Jon Jones and Tyson Fury, Mackenzie Dern levelling up, the UFC’s shock announcements last week, and a fight for survival.

Mind you, that’s a hypothetical fight. None of us are actually gonna fight anyone. And that’s good, because we have a legit gang of tough dudes here. The crafty Jack Wannan, the handsome and dastardly Lucas Rezende, the always armed Evan Zivin, and Victor Rodriguez, who always fights dirty.

Cancel Jon Jones vs. Tyson Fury: A petition to end Wolf Ticket™ sales

Jon Jones went on a weird campaign to either fight Tyson Fury or provoke him in some manner. It seems to have evaporated with little fanfare, and doesn’t seem like a likely thing to happen. What keeps driving these “MMA vs boxing” conversations when it comes to both fighters and fans – especially when we all know they’re not going to happen?

Lucas: No such thing as bad publicity, I suppose? People will try to jump on a bandwagon and keep their names in the media even if nothing comes of it. I mean, it’s hardly any work to post a tweet calling a guy this or that and claiming you would kick their ass. Especially when there is no intention to even follow through with it. 

Had there been any intention, I guess that’s even better? If anyone can secure a fight against Tyson Fury, that’s a huge payday no matter the result, right? So it looks like a low-effort, win/win situation from where I’m standing. 

However, I do think you’re right when you say it’s not going to happen. Jon Jones took a decade to finally move to the heavyweight division and we all know he is not relying on his hands to thrive there. To face someone like Fury and not have the possibility to take him down sounds like a bad time for someone who cares so much about his legacy like Jon. He would still make a ton of money, though. 

Jack: Okay, I think I’m going to play Devil’s advocate here. Why do these conversations still happen? Because… They’re fun? Fighters, just like fans, love arguing about situations that don’t exist or will likely never exist. What drives sports talk all the time is hypotheticals we will never know the answer to. Who is better: Michael Jordan or LeBron James? Well, we’ll never have one singular metric to say who, so let’s spend more than a decade arguing (the answer is James). Who is on your all-time Pound For Pound list? What’s the superior combat sport? How would a champ in one sport do in another?

These questions, quite honestly, don’t matter and have zero consequences. But it allows fans and pundits to argue. These conversations, quite honestly, are never going anywhere.

Evan: To be fair to Jon, didn’t this all start because of Joe Rogan? He said what would happen if Jon Jones and Tyson Fury were locked in a room together, Fury took offense, and then it all spiralled from there? Not that it matters. The whole thing is just so stupid.

The top motivation is probably to get some headlines, since these major names know the MMA sites will run with anything if it causes enough of a stir on Twitter or Instagram. I don’t blame them. It’s good for Tyson to keep his name out there while we’re still waiting to see if he’s going to make the Usyk fight work or if he has to settle for somebody else.

Beyond that, I think it’s a pride thing. MMA fans still have a fringe sport mentality where we always feel like the sport is constantly under attack by the misinformed masses. Because of that, we feel the need to defend it all the time. One way to go about that is by demonstrating how boxers would get destroyed in a real-life fighting situation (i.e. one where kicks and takedowns are fair game). That’s the kind of question Rogan was answering, that, in a “real” fight, Jones beats Fury.

And he probably does but who cares? Boxers are better at boxing. MMA fighters are better at MMA. Can’t we all just get along and get back to making fun of Power Slap?

Victor: I hate all this talk, because these pissing matches lead nowhere. We saw James Toney in MMA, we saw Conor McGregor vs Floyd Mayweather. I don’t think this brings any actual publicity that can be productive in any way. Especially not that weak callout from Jon Jones for Tyson Fury to to fight him in MMA. That’s not financially good for Fury no matter who does the math, so it’s a non-starter.

I think it stems from something else, and that’s potential stagnation. MMA fans are seeing the product differently now and they see that fighters aren’t getting paid what they could in boxing. That much is known. The UFC has historically been allergic to doing big and weird carnival stuff, and when it has, it’s made money but been mostly duds. Whether it’s the aforementioned Toney or CM Punk, their attempts didn’t yield great results.

So fans gravitate to this regardless of the promotional and legal red tape that won’t allow for it to happen. It’s this, and the fact that a lot of people – fans and fighters alike – are dumb enough to be distracted by jangling keys. I’d love for it to stop.

She’s looking mighty mean, folks…

Mackenzie Dern showed a bunch of new wrinkles and put on a tremendous performance against a much more accomplished striker. Does this outing demonstrate that Dern (currently ranked #8) is finally ready for the top 5, or even top 3, in her division?

Lucas: Given the current top 5, I think she would only have a good chance against Carla Esparza, who’s currently pregnant and out of the picture for the year. This leaves us with Zhang, Namajunas, Xiaonan, Andrade and Lemos. 

All dangerous strikers, much more than Angela Hill. Of course Dern can catch all of them on the ground, but I think she’d have a pretty hard time getting the fight there. She did look good against Hill, but there are levels to this.

She does deserve a step-up in competition after her last win, but she’ll have a lot to prove coming into the top 5. 

Jack: It gets really dangerous once you get to the top five of the strawweight standings. I think those are all incredibly tough names for her to face. It comes down to this: Was Saturday a flash in the pan for Dern, or proof that she has made massive upgrades and is a significantly better fighter than before? If the latter is true, throw her in with those top names. But we can only know the answer to that question once she’s back in the cage again.

Evan: No because Angela Hill was ranked 14. I don’t see how Dern moves up by beating someone 6 spots below her. Then again, she has a win over one fighter ranked ahead of her (Virna Jandiroba) so maybe she should be higher anyway.

That’s not to say Dern didn’t perform well. She looked great. Very much improved in her standup. No question she’s moving in the right direction. Maybe she’s ready for another chance to prove she is a top 5 fighter in the division. I could see a fight with Rose Namajunas being a good option. It’s either that or another make busy fight while waiting for Zhang Weili to fight Amanda Lemos (and waiting to see if Yan Xiaonan gets dibs on the winner).

Victor: I love what I saw from Dern, even if it wasn’t the prettiest striking. She bullied her way inside against a better striker to overwhelm with pressure and volume, survived the clinch against a better clinch fighter, and used superior ground control. Given that she fought someone ranked behind her, it may not look like much. But this has to give her a lot more buzz and show that she’s turned a corner in a big way.

She should obviously get someone in the top 5 next, but I’d be fine with her fighting someone in the top 3 just by how dominant she looked and the state of the division. The rankings were just updated, with Esparza at #1. Problem is, she’s expecting. So she’s out for a good while. Rose Namajunas is at #2, and we have no idea what she’s up to other than staring at clouds. Yan Xiaonan is at #3, and that was the fighter Dern called out after the win. It’s smart and a good (and even likely!) next fight.

Other than that we’ve got Amanda Lemos at #4, which is another good option. Then it’s Andrade at #5 coming off a crushing loss and Virna Jandiroba at #6, whom as Evan noted was already defeated by Dern. So yeah, strike while the iron’s hot. Seems like the Roundtable agrees they should give her a bigger boost now.

That man dropped a smoke bomb

Dana White announced a handful of major fights and the promotions future plans for setting up events in Australia. That’s great! Problem is, not all of those fights were agreed to at the time and it’s hard to ignore the timing considering Francis Ngannou’s stellar media week after signing with the PFL. Was this a direct response, and if so, did it accomplish anything?

Lucas: I think it was pretty obvious that the UFC was trying to take the spotlight away from the Ngannou news. I don’t think it made people stop talking about that, but it made some headlines and at least had the UFC share the spotlight with Ngannou for a little bit.

The aftermath, with people like Sterling saying he never agreed to fight O’Malley does hurt Dana White’s credibility, but we should all be more than used to it by this point. Can anyone really believe anything that guy says? Especially in this context?

Also, it was a pretty short-lived attempt, right? Fight announcements for events that are so far away just don’t carry a lot of weight. It may get people excited in the moment, but it’s guaranteed at least one of those big fights will fall through based on stats alone. The UFC has been losing main events left and right for a number of reasons, so how thrilled can you get about a fight that’s supposed to happen in August, or even later, when it’s still May?

On the other hand, the Ngannou news has so many interesting factors that athletes, fans and pundits have enough topics to talk about for weeks, so there’s nothing the UFC can do to stop it. This is why Dana has been trying to make Ngannou look bad recently. Too much ego, man.

Jack: It would not surprise me in the least in Dana White was attempting to counter-program the Francis Ngannou news with his own announcements.

This isn’t the first time that we have had a weird situation with a fight being announced before a fighter agrees to it. We have actually seen this play out many, many times before. You could argue that this is a “bad look” for the UFC, but the unfortunate truth here, at least I think, is that the complications over fighters not agreeing never overshadows the fight announcements. A ton of fans go “wow, look at this fight, super cool!” And that wave of people building up hype for the fight drown out the few that go “hold on, I’m not entirely sure this fight was made official yet.”

So, I guess my sort of sad takeaway is that the announcements this week probably did everything they were meant to accomplish? It would take real pushback from the public for something like this to actually not work in UFC favor, and we really haven’t seen that before.

Evan: There’s no way that it wasn’t. Dana is still very salty about how things went down with Francis. He’s so worked up over it that, at Saturday’s post-fight presser, he was tearing into some of the other PFL heavyweights just to prove that Francis has no one to fight over there. He wanted to take some of the wind out of Francis’ sail and, while I can assume he was planning on making a big fight announcement anyway, doing it on Tuesday knowing that Francis was going to announce his fighting future on that same day could not have been a coincidence.

The announcement certainly accomplished something and that was pissing Aljamain Sterling off. It’s not like Dana hasn’t rushed out fight announcements before but it is annoying when he does it at the expense of his champions. Now Aljo is in a bad position where he either agrees to the fight even though he may not feel he’s 100% or he pulls out and ends up looking bad even though he may have never fully agreed to the date in the first place.

Throwing a current champion under the bus to spite a former one? Classic Dana!

Victor: The thing that makes me saddest is how tired and predictable all the Danaspeak is these days. “He doesn’t wanna fight”, etc. Come on. He announced a bunch of stuff that got immediate pushback and it was such a transparent attempt at yucking one guy’s yum. If indeed you state as White did that PFL sells no tickets and has no ratings, why run a full-court press announcing this stuff to suck up all the oxygen in the room? It’s petty and pathetic, especially when there’s no real competition to the massive market share the UFC controls.

And now you’re left with what? Fighters bickering because they didn’t agree to these bouts and getting shit on by fans calling them cowards or whatever. And one champ in particular finally just being tired of all the bullshit. Bang up job, chief. Way to stick it to Francis, no notes. That was rock-solid and totally went as expected. Christ alive. The Roundtable sees through your antics, man.

30 Floors of Chaos

You wake up, and are in The Raid. You’re part of the elite team trying to fight their way out of the Tower of Crime™ and can only choose three MMA fighters to help you get out. Who’s joining you?

Lucas: Francis Ngannou is the tank, Demetrious Johnson is the scout, Georges St-Pierre is the face. 

Jack: Okay, I just watched a trailer for The Raid (not to age you folks, but I was 10 when this came out). I think I have an idea of what my team could be here. 

First, I’m taking Francis Ngannou. If we’re going into combat, screw weight classes. I need the biggest guy possible, and that’s him. I also want Brock Lesnar, because I feel like he’s the type of fighter who would get scrappy and bite a dudes nose off if it came to that. I’m also taking Ryan Hall. He seems like a chill and relaxed guy, and I think having someone that chill there will stop me from freaking out about how I’m one wrong step away from death. The calm composure of Ngannou and Hall would likely balance out the chaos that is Lesnar. Yeah, there’s no way I’m surviving this Tower of Crime.

Evan: The Raid? Oh nice. Love that movie. Why have one hallway fight scene when you can have all of them?

So am I treating this as if it’s a real life thing or can I pretend I’m in the movie? Because I feel like, in a real-life scenario, most MMA fighters would get me killed. Dudes would be swinging machetes while the MMA guys are circling around trying to look for the takedown. Paddy Pimblett could get decapitated and still have his arms in the air thinking he won (gotta put on a show for the judges, amirite?).

Anyway, here’s who I’ll go with:

1.      Jon Jones, because he’s the GOAT and I hear he fights real well in small rooms.

2.      Demetrious Johnson, because he’s accurate and fast. He’ll probably have suplex-armbarred 10 guys by the time I’ve finished peeing my pants.

3.      Scott Voss (the lead character from Here Comes the Boom, as portrayed by Kevin James), because the dude somehow wins AND gets to kiss Salma Hayek. If some of that dumb luck rubs off on me, I might just make it out.

Victor: I’d start off with actual military experience. I don’t think Magny saw active combat, so probably not him. Tim Kennedy probably believes in little green men from Mars and would have a real-life Scanners moment the instant anyone said “trans rights” out loud. Kharitonov would probably be a good choice, but I’ll go with Oleg Taktarov. Then I need someone wily enough but capable of dealing with multiple opponents, and there’s no way Demetrious Johnson doesn’t fit that bill.

Finally, I need someone that’s off-the-charts nuts, and that’s gotta be Tank Abbott. He’s crazy enough to be effective and fight his way out, but controllable enough and not a malicious chaos monster like Datsik. Keep Datsik away from everything nice. Tank also has a bonus mascot, that thing he had on his head for years and attempting to pass off as his hair. I know that thing spits acid or is hiding a gun.

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About the author
Victor Rodriguez
Victor Rodriguez

Victor Rodriguez has been a writer and podcaster for Bloody Elbow since 2015. He started his way as a lowly commenter and moderator to become the miscreant he is now. He often does weekly bits on fringe martial arts items across the globe, oddball street combat pieces, previews, analysis, and some behind-the-scenes support. He has trained in wrestling, Karate, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and the occasional Muay Thai and Judo lesson here and there. Victor has also been involved with acting and audio editing projects. He lives in Pennsylvania where he plays way too many video games and is an S-rank dad.

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