In an interview on Inside MMA last night, Jon Jones said his camp has brought in “no one special” to train for this weekend’s title fight with Vitor Belfort. Quote:
“I’ve brought in no one special, no one new, to train for this fight. I just believe in mainly being prepared for certain positions you’re going to be in, certain techniques. I’m sure I’ll adjust to the timing when the fight starts. But as far as special partners, we just know what we need to prepare for, and that’s all we’ve done.”
It’s an odd claim when you consider how Jones wound up matched with Belfort in the first place. Shortly after the old gypsy brushed his hand across UFC 151 and said “suckier,” Jones refused to fight Chael Sonnen because he wouldn’t have time to train. Now that he’s gotten Belfort, UFC 152 and another three weeks, he says he’s been doing what he always does.
On paper, Sonnen and Belfort are similar opponents. Both are aging middleweights recently banished to the land of wind and ghosts by Anderson Silva. The difference may lie in those “certain positions” to which Jones alluded. Sonnen is much more likely to put Jones in the position of lying on his back and chewing ineffectual left hands, only to struggle up and get planted again. Belfort, by comparison, is likely to put Jones in a striking match.
That’s an important difference to the image-conscious champ. Shortly after he rejected Sonnen, Jones had this to say about a potential rematch with Lyoto Machida:
“I don’t want to fight Lyoto Machida. He was my lowest pay-per-view draw of last year. No one wants to see me fight Lyoto Machida. I don’t want to fight Lyoto again. Lyoto is high-risk and low-reward.”
It’s debatable which opponent presents a greater threat to Jones’s belt, but from a risk-reward standpoint, Belfort should be an even rawer deal than Machida. If Jones beats Vitor on Saturday, UFC fans will say “mm hm” in the same disdainfully unsurprised tone your grandmother used when she met your college girlfriend. Yet if he somehow drops the championship to a 35 year-old middleweight, the damage to his reputation will be enormous. At least Machida was in the same weight class.
Jones’s comments suggest, however, that he is less worried about losing and more worried about being in a boring fight. Belfort will likely come out swinging, whereas Machida tends to come out making odd foot and hand movements. Jones’s insistence that he hasn’t switched up his routine to prepare for The Phenom is a testament to the champion’s confidence, as well as to his peculiar insecurity.
(Dan Brooks runs Combat Blog, the bestest political commentary blog out there. We at Fightlinker have been popping major nerdboners over his work for a while, so it’s with great excitement that we have him here as a special guestblogger for the entire month of September.)