Bas Rutten admires the way Jon Jones is a student of the game. But in spite of that, he thinks the current light heavyweight kingpin will one day get caught – because everyone else does, the former UFC champ told MMAjunkie Radio.
Rutten sees Jones’ fight with Vitor Belfort at UFC 152 as an example of how one false move can change everything. And since Jones is logging more and more time in the cage, there are more chances for something to go wrong.
Jones, who’s now defended his title seven times, might have escaped from an armbar in the first round of his fight with Belfort. But eventually, Rutten said, that might not be the case.
“Jon is one of those guys who gets caught in an armbar, and this will probably never happen again now, because he’s the guy who goes back on Monday after the weekend and then he starts working on it so it will never happen again,” said the 49-year-old former champ. “So it made [Jones] a better fighter. But I’m just saying, if it happened with an armbar, it might happen with something else. And if somebody’s really fast, they might slip something on.
“Everybody’s beatable. Mixed martial arts, there’s many ways to win, and that also means there are many ways to lose, as well.”
So far, Jones has yet to get caught since taking the light heavyweight title from Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in 2011. He came close to losing his belt, though, in a fight with Alexander Gustafsson this past fall at UFC 165.
Jones, who this past April notched his seventh defense against Glover Teixeira at UFC 172, is now in a holding pattern as the UFC attempts to make a rematch with the Swedish fighter for UFC 177 in August. The champ, meanwhile, is instead expressing a preference to fight Daniel Cormier.
Rutten, though, said Jones might not be the champ today had he not held the belt in his first meeting with Gustafsson.
“That’s the rule – you really have to take it from the champ,” he said. “I personally think it has to be the other way around, because the champ has to be so good, he needs to be way better than the other person. That’s how I think about it. But unfortunately, it is like that.
“We saw some crazy decisions where we said, ‘Really?’ Because you have to really take it away from the champ in order to get the belt. If [Jones vs. Gustafsson] would have been a normal fight, it could have gone either way really easily. Maybe Gustafsson could have won that fight.”
Rutten made it clear he isn’t trying to go on the attack with Jones, despite earlier comments that not all of the fighter’s techniques in the cage are clean. He believes his observation about Jones’ repeated eyepokes of Teixeira were taken out of context and weren’t meant as a blanket assessment that the champ is a “dirty” fighter.
But while he made it clear he thinks Jones is a phenomenal fighter, he noted that one of the consequences of that is the champ might not be getting tested enough in the gym. That lack of resistance could provide a context for situations such as the one he found against Belfort, and eventually, the loss of the belt.
“Probably in training, he just dominates everybody on top,” Rutten said of the champ. “And he should have listened to Inside MMA, because I was talking about it. I saw Anthony Johnson, when he was fighting Vitor Belfort. Vitor did an armbar and I saw his hip move, and I go, ‘I don’t think I’ve ever seen somebody in that weight class move his hips so fast to get an armbar,’ and he did it in the last seconds of the ground.
“But I said, oh God, Jones better watch out for that hip movement, because that hip movement is ridiculously fast. People always think of Vitor as a striker, and they forget about him being a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. And I was really impressed with that, and sure enough, boom, he slipped it on (Jones) really fast.”
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