Mixed martial arts trainer Lloyd Irvin is high on Jon Jones and told the Wall Street Journal, that Jones at 23 is a “next-generation fighter.”
The sensational talent made his professional debut slightly less than three years ago on April 12, 2008.
Stephan Bonnar, of Ultimate Fighter fame, dropped a decision to Jones at UFC 94 back in Jan. 2009, and he knows a couple of things about the fight game:
“I’ve never seen anyone throw anything like that. I didn’t even know it hit me. I was laying there thinking someone from the audience threw a bottle or something….
He was like 10 feet away from me and he threw this step-forward back kick and it landed.
I went to counter him and I’m like 10 feet away from him. It’s something you’re not used to dealing with. I mean, 85-inch reach? That’s incredible.”
Jonathan Snowden has much the same take on Jones’ abilities:
“Looking at a snapshot of Jones’s career, provided by the amazing team at FightMetric, the numbers are staggering. Jones has landed twice as many strikes as his opponents in a seven fight UFC tenure. He’s taken down opponents with an almost 70 percent accuracy rate, one of the best in UFC history.
Almost a third of those takedowns were “slams” a takedown that sees a fighter take an opponent completely off both feet before depositing him on the mat. Conversely, no opponent has managed to put Jones on the mat. This includes a collection of great wrestlers like Ryan Bader, Matt Hamill, and Vladimir Matyushenko.”
Jones squares off with light-heavyweight champ Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 128 this weekend, and while his training partner, Rashad Evans, waited months for his shot at Rua, Jones had been playing the part of Rua in training with Evans.
That all adds up to a hell of a donnybrook in our estimation…
1:05pm — Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta and Scott Coker on the call.
1:06pm — Scott, what prompted you to make the deal? Coker: It was a long and hard decision but investors (SVSE) wanted to get back to their hockey business so we looked at new offers/investors.
1:08pm — Dana, will you merge brands down the road? White: Anything is possible, but as of now the plan is to run Strikeforce on Showtime like it has been. Showtime runs the production including choice of announcers.
1:09pm — Coker: Approximately 140 fighters under contract with Strikeforce.
1:10pm — Dana, is no competition a bad thing? White: There will always be competition, this is about growing the sport. It’s a great day for fans and fighters. Lorenzo: We have vast financial resources and it’s good for fighters to be with a big, healthy promotion. There are literally thousands of promotions worldwide so fighters still have plenty of options.
1:11pm — Lorenzo says acquisition is in “early stages” and he hasn’t talked to Showtime yet. If they want to pursue a new deal after current Strikeforce contract expires (in 2014) he would be willing to talk.
1:12pm — UFC will implement unified rules of MMA in Strikeforce shows (including elbows on the ground) effective immediately.
1:13pm — Dana says “superfights” are possible but it’s too early to forecast fantasy match-ups. It’s a work in progress.
1:15pm — Fertitta: How quickly the UFC expands may dictate how they use newly acquired fighters.
1:17pm — White: UFC anticipates no fallout from Canadian outcry against head injuries (RE: NHL).
1:20pm — Will Strikeforce come to Canada? Coker: There was dialog with a casino and arena in Canada but we’re still a few weeks away from any kind of announcement.
1:21pm — White: There is a demand for MMA and it does not compete with other major sports like NFL and MLB. UFC has its own demand.
1:22pm — What about comments from Paul Daley and Josh Barnett who have past issues with UFC? White: This is a business, if you don’t like me you can always deal with Lorenzo but as of now we will honor all contracts.
1:23pm — Another fantasy match-up question. Same answer: Work in progress and brands will run separately for now. Lorenzo: There is still unfinished business in Strikeforce (RE: Grand Prix, other upcoming events).
1:25pm — Will the UFC open themselves up to anti-trust suits with new acquisition? Fertitta: Doubtful, plenty of promotions already exist and there are no barriers to new promotions starting and signing fighters. White: All you need is big balls and big money.
1:26pm — White: No plans to do Strikeforce “Ultimate Fighter” but you never know.
1:27pm — Does the Strikeforce purchase help the UFC get into Japan? Lorenzo: Too early to tell but Coker has good relationship there and it warrants future consideration.
1:28pm — Coker: UFC purchase had no effect on delay of heavyweight tournament.
1:29pm — White: UFC will not counter-program Strikeforce events moving forward but will continue to air old UFC pay-per-views on Spike TV.
1:30pm — Dana White has not changed his opinion of female fighting (not a fan) and calls it “Scott’s deal.”
1:31pm — How much closer does this acquisition put you to a Zuffa “On Demand” channel? Lorenzo: Nothing to report on that but we will use the Strikeforce library like we have for PRIDE and WEC. UFC has 4000+ library of fights.
1:33pm — Coker: Strikeforce still interested in Hispanic market and can now use Zuffa backing to help capitalize on that demand.
1:34pm — White: It’s up to the fighters if they want to do a union but the problem is MMA isn’t a team sport and top paying guys may not want to kick some of that money to guys coming up or who might not make it — but that is entirely up to the fighters.
1:35pm — Another fantasy match-up question and (surprise) same answer: “Business as usual.” Coker cannot comment on specific contracts but reiterates that Fedor Emelianenko fights for Strikeforce on Showtime.
1:36pm — Was Strikeforce purchase a defensive move to keep it from other investors? White and Fertitta: No, and they hadn’t heard the rumor of other interested parties until today.
1:39pm — White: This will be the biggest sport in the world because everyone likes fighting and we have big International plans. We need more fighters as we continue to grow the sport worldwide. We’re in half a billion homes so we’re doing a pretty good job.
1:40pm — How does the UFC keep the championship picture from getting messy like boxing now that UFC owns two promotions with two sets of champs? White: Nothing has changed. Two separate brands and each has its own set of champions to represent it.
1:41pm — Fertitta: We’re growing our brand through increased presence like new “Prelim” specials on TV and Facebook and want to introduce new fighters and build talent overseas and in different markets through more content like “Fight Nights” and related programming. White: There is a ton of demand worldwide and we’re trying to keep up.
1:42pm — Fertitta: We don’t feel like we have a year-round presence overseas and now it’s just a “special event” type of approach. Goal is to make it a full-time presence.
1:45pm — Call ends.
Las Vegas, Nevada –Forza, LLC, a subsidiary of Zuffa, LLC, which owns the Ultimate Fighting Championship® brand, announced today that it has purchased the assets of Explosion Entertainment, LLC dba Strikeforce®. Under the terms of the deal, all Strikeforce fighter contracts will be honored, as will its broadcast agreement with Showtime® Networks, Inc. Strikeforce will continue to operate as a separate business and current Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker has signed a long-term employment agreement with the company.
“We have worked hard to make mixed martial arts the fastest growing sport in the world,” UFC President Dana White said. “We’ve spent countless hours getting this sport regulated and taking the Octagon® all over the world. Acquiring the Strikeforce assets allows us to continue to develop this sport into a global force.”
“We intend to operate Strikeforce as a separate business much like we did with the WEC for many years,” Lorenzo Fertitta, Chairman and CEO of Zuffa, said. “We look forward to working with Scott Coker, and the entire Strikeforce and Showtime teams to continue to provide quality content for mixed martial arts fans.
“We’ve long admired Scott Coker and the Strikeforce business he launched and developed,” Fertitta continued. “We feel that together with Scott, we can continue to build both Strikeforce and the UFC.”
Currently, Strikeforce holds 16 events annually across the United States. The organization will continue to do so under new ownership and fans can look forward to exciting fights featuring their favorite Strikeforce athletes. While there are currently no plans to bring Strikeforce fighters to the UFC, a new strategy to strengthen Strikeforce’s talented roster is being developed.
“This is an important day for the sport of mixed martial arts,” Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said. “We are excited to work with Lorenzo Fertitta, Frank Fertitta, Dana White and everyone at the UFC on the quest to make MMA the biggest sport in the world. Fans can continue to expect quality Strikeforce shows and we look forward to giving our athletes an even broader platform on which to perform.”
Strikeforce was represented in the transaction by Evolution Media Capital, a media and sports investment bank affiliated with Creative Artists Agency.
The next Strikeforce event is planned for Friday, April 1 in Stockton, Calif. In the main event of the Strikeforce Challengers card held at the Stockton Arena, lightweights Justin Wilcox (10-3) and Rodrigo Damm (9-4) are set to collide. The fight will air on Showtime at 11 p.m. ET/PT.
Strikeforce also has an event on April 9 at the Valley View Casino Arena in San Diego featuring a welterweight title fight between Nick Diaz (24-7-1) and Paul Daley (27-9-2). Then, in June, Strikeforce continues its Heavyweight Grand Prix at the American Airlines Center in Dallas with a much anticipated heavyweight clash pitting Alistair Overeem (34-11-1) vs. Fabricio Werdum (14-4-1). All bouts live and subject to change.
“I’m a positive guy. I see things through a positive lens. It can be really, really the best thing that ever happened to the sport, if it’s used positive, and I see that happening.
If it’s used negative, then it’s going to be a downfall. But I don’t see that happening. I see this as a good thing, a good development.
We’re going to have to wait and see how it works out.
The fans are going to get to see the fights that are most appealing to them. I think this is what the sport needs to grow… “
While ZUFFA’s recent purchase of Strikeforce has the the MMA community on edge, Alistair Overeem is optimistic about the future implications of the new ownership.
Overeem said he expects the deal to produce exciting match-ups for fans and says his focus remains on Fabricio Werdum. Overeem faces Werdum in June as part of the ongoing Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix.
Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum is set to take place June 18th from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.
That card will be headlined by the quarterfinal elimination bout between Heavyweight Champ Alistair Overeem and Fabricio Werdum.
The co-main event will feature Josh Barnett and Brett Rogers going head to head in their own quarterfinal match-up.
Here’s a list of fighters sure to benefit from the additional exposure the UFC/Strikeforce merger will bring them.
Some of them may not be too happy about this latest development, but given time for things to shake out, it’s pretty likely that they’ll enjoy the effect the acquisition will have on their bank accounts…
1. Nick Diaz, Welterweight (23-7, 5-0 Strikeforce, 6-4 UFC)
Outside the cage, the former UFC fighter is a wild man, but White is the first to admit he’s a talented kid. The current Strikeforce welterweight champion hasn’t lost since 2007. He’s also one of the only welterweights outside of the UFC that fans would love to see take on Georges St. Pierre. In less than a month at Strikeforce’s next scheduled event in San Diego on Apr. 9, he defends his title against Paul Daley. His brother Nate is currently fighting at 170 pounds in the UFC.
He wasn’t the first name on the lips of many MMA fans, but he probably should be. He’s the most legitimate threat to any of the UFC title holders. Melendez’s mix of wrestling, striking, strategy and stamina puts him immediately in the mix with Gray Maynard and Anthony Pettis to challenge for Frank Edgar’s title. Just as important, he wants to fight the best and is an easy guy to manage.
3. Dan Henderson. Light heavyweight (27-8, Strikeforce 2-1, UFC 5-2)
With just one fight left on his deal, Henderson could be the first Strikeforce star to crossover. His 2009 exit from the UFC was more about ancillary concerns than his performance in the cage.
With his win last weekend over Strikeforce light heavyweight champ Rafael Cavalcante, the 40-year-old proved again that he’s a top 10 fighter at light heavyweight. He could also go back down to middleweight if he wants to and the UFC thought that was the best spot.
“I don’t know what to feel about it, I don’t necessarily think, it might not be the best thing for the sport. But then again you’re going to start being able to see all these match-ups that everyone wants to see. Who knows,” Henderson said. “I had no plans of leaving, but I don’t know what this is going to do those plans, but I have one fight left on my deal and we’ll see what happens,”
Henderson is cool with White.
“I’ve never said anything bad about them. I always appreciated everything they’ve done for me and for the sport. It’s just I was paid more money to go elsewhere, and that’s what I did. Dana’s the type that needs to talk a little smack if he doesn’t get his way, but I’ve got no hard feelings about anything.”
Strikeforce paid Hendo a healthy salary and allowed him to promote his clothing line, Clinch Gear. Hopefully, this time around the Clinch Gear issue can be resolved so we can see Henderson face the likes of Mauricio Rua, Rashad Evans, Quinton Jackson, Jon Jones and Lyoto Machida.
If everything is cool on the pre-fight drug testing front, Overeem would be an awesome addition to the UFC heavyweight division. His pure power, look and striking is very promotable. An Overeem fight against Cain Velasquez, Brock Lesnar, Junior dos Santos, Frank Mir or Shane Carwin would be a seat-filler. That said, he’ll have to drop the desire to compete in K-1 competitions.
5. Antonio Silva, Heavyweight (16-2, 3-1 Strikeforce)
This seems high, right? That’s how good Silva is now and can be down the road. “Big Foot” is one of the biggest heavyweights in the world and is quickly developing one of the more well-rounded games in the division. His size overwhelmed Fedor Emelianenko and now that he’s better managing the weight cut, he’s got his stamina up to snuff.
6. Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal, Light heavyweight (7-1, 2-1 Strikeforce)
From a selling standpoint, King Mo has as much potential as anyone on the Strikeforce roster. His amateur wrestling background makes him competitive with any 205-pounder in the world. Once he cleans up his striking and learns how to manage his gas tank, sky’s the limit. His personality and willingness to bond with the fans and haters alike, makes him a promotional dream.
7. Tim Kennedy, Middleweight (13-3, 4-1 Strikeforce)
Strikeforce is onto something here with Kennedy. Think Brian Stann, but a lot better in most facets of the game. The Army Special Forces veteran wants to fight all the time and he’s a great role model to push to casual and non-MMA fans. More than any other division, the UFC’s middleweight class is in need a new blood. Kennedy is a great pickup.
I’d love to have Fedor on top of this list, but the relationship is so frayed between M-1, his management team and White, it’s difficult to imagine seeing him the Octagon anytime soon. He also needs to win some fights to rebuild his brand and reputation.
In his first comments about Fedor, White didn’t seem optomistic:
“I don’t see any irony in that,” White told Yahoo!’s Kevin Iole, chuckling. “Even though Fedor is now under contract with Zuffa, I still have a hard time imagining he’ll ever fight in the UFC. We’ll see, but that’s my bet right now.”
“You know me,” White said. “I’m as big a fan of this as anybody and I love making the fights that everyone wants to see. At the end of the day, it’s all about making great fights and the fights the people want to see. That’s what we’re doing.”
9. Jason Miller, Middleweight (24-7, 1-1 Strikeforce, 0-1 UFC)
Miller is far from the best fighter on this list, but he’s the most media savvy. His MTV show “Bully Beatdown” and appearances all over satellite radio give him exposure more MMA fighters can’t even sniff. He fought for the UFC back in 2005 against GSP, but simply wasn’t ready for that level and was draining himself way down at 170 pounds.
I’m still a backer of Mousasi. His calculated style and killer instinct makes him an attractive addition. He just needs to strategize a little more against top level fighters and must shore up his takedown defense. Don’t sleep on the Armenian’s future. UFC may talk to him about going back down to middleweight. An Anderson Silva-Mousasi fight would be dynamite.
We’re still not sure what went down when Werdum was sent packing by the UFC back in 2009. His talent is undeniable. Werdum is a huge dude at 6-5, 245 and his jiu-jitsu is some of the best in the world for the weight class. The win over Fedor was no fluke and don’t forget he avoided dangerous situations in getting the win over Antonio Silva too. Grappling matchups against Lesnar, Mir, Carwin and even Roy Nelson would be awesome.
12. Paul Daley, Welterweight (27-9, 1-0 Strikeforce, 2-1 UFC)
The villain of all villains. Whether Daley should’ve been cut from the UFC is still debatable. His questionable attitude is not. We all have bosses and sometimes have to swallow our pride to co-exist. Daley was supposedly posting today on the Underground Forum today that he needs to “think” about fighting for the UFC and making money for White. Frankly, it’s not his decision. It’s also pretty stupid to push for your options to only include Japan’s DREAM, BAMMA, Shark Fights, Titan Fighting, Bellator and MFC.
13. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Middleweight (14-2, 4-0 Strikeforce)
Jacare is very intriguing. His submission game is off the charts and would be a great anti-dote against the UFC’s wrestlers/grapplers like Chael Sonnen and Yushin Okami. As the Strikeforce middleweight champ, he controls his own destiny. If he keeps winning under the “business as usual” operation, he’ll force the hand of the UFC to put him in the mix with the big company.
14. Rafael Cavalcante, Light heavyweight (10-3, 3-2 Strikeforce)
“Feijao” lost to Henderson, but it’s just one fight. The guy comes to bang and has an excellent ground game. The UFC could certainly find a home for another huge, well-rounded light heavyweight.
It would be shocking to see Lawler on the outside looking in. He’s a favorite of White’s. His style is exactly what fans and the promotion latch onto. Lawler’s one-punch knockout power makes him a more talented version of Chris Lytle and we know he’s got a job for life with the promotion as long as he remain around .500.
Rewind the clock to UFC 113 on May 8, 2010. The co-main event of the evening was a welterweight title eliminator bout pitting notorious loudmouth Josh Koscheck against Paul Daley.
“Kos” used his superior wrestling to grapple his way to a unanimous decision win and an eventual shot against Georges St. Pierre. The war of words between the AKA fighter and “Semtex” continued throughout the bout and came to a head when the final horn sounded.
Daley, so frustrated at his loss and the various trash talk, sucker punched Koscheck and was subsequently kicked out of the UFC. Company President Dana White commented at the time that the British banger would never again fight for his promotion, something he reiterated today.
As it turns out, Daley might not have any interest in working for Mr. White again — even if that means forfeiting his upcoming welterweight title shot against Nick Diaz on April 9 in San Diego. He took to the Underground to voice his thoughts (and frustrations) on the situation earlier today:
“Business as usual, what if i dont wanna fight for DANA WHITE/ZUFFA?……Dana white bans me for life from the UFC, Then buys STRIKEFORCE, and thinks im still gonna be EASY and fight on one of the most anticipated fights of the year (vs Diaz)? Which will no doubt make ZUFFA/Dana White money. Daley vs Diaz still on?…..Someone better holla at my manager real quick.”
Trouble in paradise? That’s not all he had to say.
“Not sure what im gonna do right now, honestly…fight for the Strikeforce and be Strikeforce champ, put money in ZUFFA/Dana Whites pockets? Or fight here in the UK for BAMMA, who appreciate my brand, and have my loyal fans, family and media support me. For real.”
With the April 9 show in San Diego just under a month away, this could present quite the problem to all involved.
Is Bellator Fighting Championships going to be the next block to tumble in the way of ZUFFA’s quest to own the sport of MMA?
Well, maybe not.
“No,” Rebney told MMAjunkie.com prior to Saturday’s Bellator 36 event on MTV2. “My answer to that is based on our entire philosophy. It’s one where fighters control their own destiny. The organization that puts the cage down and puts up the lights, and puts all the cameras together and puts on the show on MTV, has the same exact philosophy of the fighters who step into the cage.
“I am a big fan of controlling one’s own destiny. It’s what got me to this point. … It’s that type of control of controlling your destiny that is everything our organization is about. It’s our very, very core.”
Four bouts on the UFC 131 fight card have been verbally agreed to, including a matchup of rising middleweights:
* Mark Munoz vs. Demian Maia “Heavy handed Mark Munoz will take on Demian Maia, one of the top Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belts in MMA,” says UFC president Dana White. * Anthony Perosh vs. Krzysztof Soszynski * Jesse Bongfeldt vs. Court McGee * Darren Elkins vs. Michihiro Omigawa (at featherweight)
More details about UFC 131 including ticket information will be announced soon.