For a fighter on an eight-fight winning streak and who owns three consecutive UFC victories, UFC Fight Night 32 competitor Rony Jason is especially critical of his own skills. But there’s one area where he feels exceptionally confident.
Jason (13-3 MMA, 3-0 UFC), who kicks off tonight’s FOX Sports 1 main-card broadcast opposite featherweight Jeremy Stephens (21-9 MMA, 8-8 UFC), has scored stoppage wins over Sam Sicilia and Mike Wilkinson since winning “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” with a decision victory over Godofredo Castro in 2012.
While he’s showing steady improvement, Jason’s far from a braggart.
“I wouldn’t say there are a few things that I need to improve; there are actually a lot of things that I need to improve,” he told MMAjunkie.com. “I think my striking is not as advanced as that of the ‘Pitbull’ (Freire) brothers. My wrestling is not as good as (Team Nogueira’s) Bruno Machado, I have long way to go in my wrestling, boxing, kickboxing, takedowns and takedown defense. I almost don’t use my knees and feet when striking. Hands, elbows, knees and feet, each pair represents 25 percent of your striking potential. So, altogether, I’ve only been using 50 percent of my potential.”
It’s a blunt and potentially overly pessimistic self-evaluation. However, there’s one area in which Jason takes great pride.
“I just feel my way through a fight, trying to win in one way or another,” he said. “But my one skill that I’m OK with is my jiu-jitsu. I constantly train to keep it sharp, but I’m looking to improve everywhere else. I wouldn’t say my jiu-jitsu is the best there is, but I feel it’s sufficient to keep up with anyone else in my weight class.”
Stephens’ ground game has improved in recent years, but the slugger is best known for his knockout power, which has carried him to 14 KO victories in 21 career wins. Jason knows it’s his opponent’s best avenue to a win, but if Stephens takes it to the ground, you won’t hear any complaints.
“People often comment that wrestling isn’t my best skill and that I might be easy to take down,” Jason said. “If someone takes me down, I should kiss them since I am very competent on the ground. But it just so happens that I enjoy striking. Sincerely speaking, a knockout is a beautiful thing.”
Jason, who’s never fought outside his home country, could make a nice jump up the featherweight ranks with a victory over a 16-fight UFC vet. But if he gets by Stephens, the 29-year-old hopes it’ll take him back in time. Specifically, Jason would love to someday serve as a head coach on “TUF,” and he’d like to avenge his first career defeat.
Back in 2006, in just his third pro fight, Jason suffered a split-decision defeat to current UFC interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao. On paper, it’s the closest Barao has come to defeat during his current 32-fight unbeaten streak. So even if it requires a drop in weight class, Jason would like a chance to rematch the dominant interim titleholder.
“I don’t really feel either one of us won that fight, and I hope to have the chance to face him for a belt in the future,” he said. “I feel he won the decision because the judges were from Nova Uniao. Renan is a great fighter, and I’m sure he’ll agree that a champion should win before the final bell, and not by the opinion of judges.
“I would love to be a ‘TUF’ coach opposite Renan Barao so we could fight at 135 pounds.”
For more on UFC Fight Night 32, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.