UFC 214 was a not a night of upsets, but it was definitely a night that did not go to expectations on many accounts. Evinger surviving into the third round, Oezdemir’s prompt knock out of odds favourite Manuwa and the satisfyingly close, long awaited Cerrone vs Lawler war. But of course, the shocker and the curtain call for the night, Jon Jones’ knockout win of long time rival Daniel Cormier is the one that has people talking. Not only was this DC’s first time being finished, but against a long time bitter rival, the loss could not have been any worse. Jones’ methodical approach to the finish and the initial success of DC’s game plan came together for a dramatic fight. The genius levels of vision Jones possesses in high pressure situations and his ability to modify his game plan on the fly is, in my opinion, his greatest attribute. To predict how Jones will fight on any given day is, for the most part, a fool’s endeavour. He has tools that he uses often and with great success, but in this fight we saw what he does when those tools are accounted for.
The Fight Plan
By all narratives, DC had a perfect training camp for UFC 214, he had all the help he could get. He had employed the help of a kick-boxer who had both Jones’ physical attributes and striking style (long and unorthodox techniques), he worked on what he lacked and he seemed to have very little but this fight on his mind for 2 years. The biggest obstacle to overcome, Jon’s distance control and reach, both were actually quite effectively dealt with. When Jon fired the teeps to the knees, DC did his best to punish those attempts by firing leg kicks straight back. Getting kicked while on one leg is not optimal, to put it lightly, and Bones had to pick his knee teeps more carefully as the fight went on. DC also did a good job of attenuating the annoyance of Jones’ outstretched lead hand, by effectively hand fighting and coming in with heavy leather. DC effectively evaded the first line of defense and landed hefty combinations behind them on multiple occasions which gave DC and his thousands of fans a glimmer of hope. But Jones was not high and dry without his two bread and butter tools.
Working on the assumption that DC had effective counters for his usual game plan, Jones manipulated the rhythm of his movement and got to work looking for DC’s tendencies. The disadvantage of being an aggressor in a fight against Jon Jones is you are basically showing him your cards “This is what i have, this is how it will feel”. Quite early on, Jones began backing up and recruiting one of my favourite tactics in martial arts ‘rhythm manipulation. Jones constantly backing up would stop short with no warning and fire a combination at DC to see how he would react. The rhythm disruption came in the back up, he showed no real pattern to when he would stop and it would often be at times when DC was mid-step or mid strike. Not only would this disrupt DC’s attack but it also helped Jones gather information. Throw a combination, watch the counter, throw a combination, watch the counter. Over and over until Jones decided he saw a good enough opening. This opening was found during effective use of sharp body shot combinations which forced DC to lower his guard and lean in anticipation for these strikes until Jon decided he was ‘conditioned’ enough for the head kick he had planned. Jones backs up and stops short, DC lowers hands to brace for body impact and Jones punishes swiftly with a head kick. The well placed trip, while DC struggled for stability, into the ensuing ground and pound brought to fruition a beautiful display of ring IQ overpowering a solid game plan.
Article written by Kangaroo