Hyoung Chang, Denver Post
Sunday, March 21, 2010 | 3 p.m.
BROOMFIELD, Colo. — The best word for the hype surrounding 22-year-old Jon Jones?
Jones (10-1) delivered arguably the best performance of his career against arguably the toughest test of his career, destroying Brandon Vera (11-5) in the first round of their light heavyweight bout en route to a TKO victory at 1stBank Center.
After the fight, Jones said he's obviously aware of the hype surrounding him, however, he hasn't allowed it to affect his work ethic.
"I try not to pay attention to the hype but I recognize it's there," Jones said. "It makes me want to live up to my potential. I think potential is the worst thing in the world to waste and I'm working hard to make sure that doesn't happen."
Jones wasted no time gaining momentum Sunday, taking down Vera in the first 10 seconds of the fight and applying constant pressure from the top position.
Vera was penalized a point midway through the first round when he threw an illegal upkick that knocked Jones's head back. However, the illegal blow had little effect on the outcome of the fight.
The win should catapult Jones toward the top of the talented light heavyweight division, although UFC president Dana White said he'd like to see the young prospect put another year of experience under his belt before taking a title shot.
It was another setback for Vera, who now has back-to-back losses, including a unanimous decision loss to Randy Couture in November.
Jon Jones (10-1) vs. Brandon Vera (11-5)
Round One: Jones looks to trip immediately and puts Vera on his back in the first five seconds of the fight. Jones in Vera's guard looking to land shots, Vera with a great move kicks Jones off him and gets back to his feet. Jones gets the Muay Thai clinch and looks for a takedown, Vera defends initially but Jones shoves him to the cage and body slams him. Jones again in Vera's guard, looking to cause damage. He lands his first big shot of the night with a hard left hand. Vera throws a vicious upkick to Jones's face, an illegal blow. Referee Herb Dean stops the action, Vera apologizes. Jones will be able to continue, but Vera loses a point and has to go right back to his back. Dean puts them back in position and Jones is back to work in Vera's guard with 2:30 to go. Good left hand from Jones and a good elbow. Vera kicks him off but the elbow hurt him. He's covering up and Dean steps in. Jones is legit, first round TKO win over Vera.
Gabriel Gonzaga (11-5) vs. Junior Dos Santos (11-1)
Round One: Gonzaga throws a leg kick to get action started in first round. Gonzaga throws a hard right and follows with a takedown attempt that Dos Santos scrambles out of. Lots of feeling out going on, as both guys stay patient in looking for an opening. Dos Santos lands two good right hands as Gonzaga comes forward. Gonzaga kicks and Dos Santos lands a left hook that floors him. Gonzaga trying to cover up but Dos Santos stands over him and finishes the job, ending Gonzaga's night at 3:53 of the first round.
Paul Buentello (25-12) vs. Cheick Kongo (25-6-1)
Round One: Buentello comes out with a lot of movement and throws a huge overhand right that misses its mark. Kongo looks for a takedown following an exchange and Buentello backs up to the cage looking to defend, but eventually gets dragged down. Kongo looking to keep Buentello trapped on the ground against the fence. Buentello gets back to his feet but leave himself open to a body slam from Kongo. Not a ton of offense from Kongo yet in this position, with Buentello sitting against the fence, but it's got to be emptying Buentello's gas tank. Now action stops as Buentello starts shaking his right hand, looks like from a dislocated pinkie. Doctor comes in, works on the hand, and Buentello signals he's good to go. Finally action resumes. The ordeal has seemed to energize Buentello, but he can't defend another takedown from Kongo and ends up sitting back against the cage almost immediately. Kongo again can't seem to turn it into offense and referee Herb Dean stands it up. Buentello falls over again near the end of a weird round.
Round Two: Buentello eats a right hook at the start of the round, defends a takedown but Kongo is relentless. He flattens him against the cage and starts landing shots with his left hand. Dean is warning Buentello he's in trouble. Buentello survives the attack but is in bad shape. He's crouched against the cage and now takes several knees to the midsection before one grazes his head and that's an illegal shot because Buentello was officially a 'downed opponent.' Action stops for a second time as Dean checks on Buentello. Dean takes his time but eventually takes a point away from Kongo for the infraction. Still 3:15 to go in the round after all that. Kongo looking for the takedown right away and gets it. Buentello taking major damage from knees from Kongo. He's able to work to his feet and land a combination as Kongo is throwing, but he's immediately taken down again. Buentello doing little more than curling his body and covering up now. He gets to his feet after warnings from Dean but continues taking hard knees. Buentello keeps playing dead before trying to surprise Kongo with a flurry.
Round Three: Final round starts off same as last two. Kongo shoots in and puts Buentello down. Buentello again in fetal position taking shots and he taps on his own. Kongo's takedowns prove to be key as he cruises to a tapout win at 1:16 of final round.
James Irvin (14-6) vs. Alessio Sakara (19-7)
Round One: Sakara lands a straight left to welcome Irvin to the middleweight division. Good straight right lands for Sakara. Irvin weathers a left hook from Sakara. All Sakara to this point. Another big left hook from Sakara. Now a strong, straight right. Now a left hook lands for Sakara and Irvin goes down holding his right eye. Sakara swarms him and referee Josh Rosenthal stops the fight and gives Sakara the TKO win. It looks on the replay like it was not an eye poke but crowd boos as Rosenthal again signals the fight is over.
Shannon Gugerty (22-6) vs. Clay Guida (26-8)
Round One: Guida makes the first strong move, letting his hands go as Gugerty backs up to the cage. Gugerty sets up a beautiful triangle submission attempt though. Guida slams him down to break free from it. Guida looking to posture up and he moves from full guard to half guard. He's trying to pass guard but Gugerty doing a nice job to prevent it. As Gugerty ties up both his arms, Guida actually using his shoulder as an effective weapon, driving it into Gugerty from top position. Round ends with Gugerty covering up as Guida lands some final shots.
Round Two: Gugerty looks for an early takedown but Guida defends and reverses it into a takedown of his own. Gugerty tries to sink in a guillotine and it was deep enough for referee Herb Dean to double take on Guida, but Guida breaks free. Guida back on top and landing effective elbows. Now Guida lands a few nice shots with his left hand with 2:30 to go in the round. More good ground and pound from Guida as he postures up from inside Gugerty's guard. Now he traps Gugerty's right arm and sinks in the arm triangle for the submission win at 3:40 of second round.
Vladimir Matyushenko (24-4) vs. Eliot Marshall (8-3)
Round One: Fighters come out and touch gloves to start first round. Long feeling out process follows, as both fighters feinting a lot without throwing. Marshall lands a nice leg kick, answered by the same from Matyushenko. Crowd breaks into 'Marshall' chant. Marshall throws a big overhand right that is blocked and Matyushenko lands first big shot of the night with a counter left hook. Marshall stumbles but clinches and regains his composure. Marshall lands a nice left hook that staggers Matyushenko now. Matyushenko very patient right now, he looks comfortable just looking to counter. One minute to go. Matyushenko comes forward with a three-punch combo but Marshall makes him miss.
Round Two: Matyushenko staggers Marshall with a left hook early in second round but Marshall survives. Matyushenko still throwing far less strikes but when he does, he's landing more of them. Crowd boos as fight becomes inactive. Matyushenko lets his hands go and puts Marshall against the cage but they break quickly. Right uppercut lands for Marshall but Matyushenko lands a takedown shortly after. Marshall on his back but Matyushenko doesn't want to follow him there. Marshall gets back to his feet.
Round Three: Matyushenko lands two good leg kicks in otherwise quiet opening minutes of final round. Crowd becoming restless and starts to boo. More leg kicks from Matyushenko and Marshall has no answer. His standup hasn't been able to get through Matyushenko's defense and he's been unable to score points. Two minutes to go and Marshall defends a takedown attempt from Matyushenko. More missed strikes from both fighters and Matyushenko finally lands a takedown as Marshall misses on a left hook. Marshall gets back to his feet and the crowd is urging him to do something with 30 seconds left but it's quiet the rest of the way. Matyushenko earns a split decision win, winning 30-27 on two of the three scorecards.
Darren Elkins (12-1) vs. Duane Ludwig (27-11)
Round One: Ludwig draws first blood as he throws a few straight hands right through Elkins's defense. Elkins goes for a takedown but great sprawl by Ludwig keeps him up. Elkins continues going for the takedown though and he body slams Ludwig. Ludwig taps immediately and its unclear what happened at first. On the replay, it shows Ludwig's ankle came down wrong and was completely turned around as Elkins slammed him. Elkins wins by TKO in first round.
Daniel Roberts (9-1) vs. John Howard (14-4)
Round One: Howard lets his hands go to start the fight but it left him wide open for a takedown attempt from Roberts. Howard goes down for a second but is quickly back to his feet. He goes down again though and is taking some damage from his back. Howards gets to his knees to get away from the strikes and in a great move picks Roberts off the floor and body slams him to the mat. Roberts showing great work from the bottom as he works for Howard's arm but Howard lands a huge left hook that puts Roberts immediately out. Howard lands a few more before the referee can step in, what a shot to end Roberts's unbeaten streak. Howard wins by knockout.
Chase Gormley (6-2) vs. Brendan Schaub (6-1)
Round One: Pretty quick start to this one as both fighters come out swinging. Schaub is landing the better of the exchanges. He rocks Gormley with a few right ahnds and then more knees. Crowd is going wild as Gormley covers up and Schaub jumps on him against the cage. Schaub scores big time TKO win in front of home crowd at :47 seconds of first round.
Julio Paulino (18-3) vs. Mike Pierce (10-3)
Round One: Pierce strong takedown to start the fight and puts Paulino on his back immediately. Paulino goes head-hunting with a choke but it doesn't look too deep at the moment. He's not giving up on it though and it's making it difficult for Pierce to do anything from top position. Pierce finally breaks it and goes to work from side control. Paulino is defending pretty well from his back but he's not even close to being able to get up. Pierce is a great wrestler and he's just smothering him here early. Good elbows here from Pierce at the two-minute mark. With 50 seconds left, referee stands them up even though Pierce was still working from top position. Doesn't matter though, Pierce puts Paulino down again with a body slam that gets a good reaction from the crowd to finish the round.
Round Two: Good left jab by Paulino opens round. Pierce throws a right hand that misses and follows it with a single leg takedown attempt. Paulino backs up to the cage and stays standing. Pierce continues working for the takedown and the referee stops the action because Paulino's foot gets stuck in the cage. Pierce comes out from the break aggressively and lands a nice body slam to get Paulino back to the mat. Paulino in a bad spot here as Pierce puts his back to the mat and his head against the cage. Two minutes to go, Pierce looking to land elbows from top position and keep Paulino stuck against the fence. Again, referee makes a questionable standup as Pierce was working out of half-guard and clearly dominating the fight. Pierce comes forward again and works to a clinch against the cage to end the round.
Round Three: Pierce ducks under a right hook from Paulino and throws him to the mat with yet another body slam. Pierce lands a big right hand as he comes down on Paulino. Similar to last round, as Pierce puts Paulino against the fence again and works ground and pound. Paulino gets back to his feet at 1:20 mark but he's only looking to defend takedowns at this point. No offense whatsoever from Paulino. Fight gets stood up again and Paulino is swinging for fences as he's only got a minute left. Pierce is firing back but he catches a few hooks from Paulino before taking him down a final time before the final horn. Pierce takes a clear-cut unanimous decision win.
Jason Brilz (18-2-1) vs. Eric Schafer (13-5-2):
Round One: Schafer caught immediately with a left jab but doesn't look like there was much behind it. Brilz clinches and puts Schafer's back to the cage. Neither fighter lands anything significant and Schafer shrugs him off with four minutes to go. Now Brilz letting his hands go and lands a few clean shots but Schafer responds with a knee from the Muay Thai clinch. Brilz looks for the takedown and drags Schafer to the mat for the first time tonight. He's only got hold of one leg though and Schafer works his way back up easily. Schafer looking to push the action on his feet but Brilz is reading them and countering beautifully. Schafer lands a left uppercut now and Brilz is wobbly. Brilz trying to recover and now Schafer lands a big knee. Brilz still trying to recover and he grabs a leg. Schafer looks to finish but Brilz staying alive, back to his feet and it looks like he has legs back under him. Good left jab by Schafer and Brilz clinches again to end the round.
Round Two: Brilz opens up a with a big counter left hook that staggers Schafer but he recovers and it's back to the clinch with Schafer's back to the cage. Schafer breaks away and lands a few straight hands before tripping Brilz and putting him on his back. Schafer rolls into submission attempt but Brilz avoids it and gets back to his feet and lands a great right hook as Schafer was still off-balance. Brilz coming forward now as Schafer looks to be low on energy. Brilz lands the takedown and looks for a late choke before the round ends.
Round Three: Schafer's gas tank looks empty here in final round. He's backing up and Brilz is landing one hook after another as Schafer can barely keep his hands up. Brilz looks tired too though, so while he's landing punches they're not enough to finish the fight. Brilz looks for the takedown and is successful but Schafer manages to get him off and put Brilz in a sitting position against the cage. It's getting sloppy here, as Brilz gets to his feet and drags an exhausted Schafer towards the middle of the octagon. Schafer ends up on his back and Brilz is landing some decent elbows from half guard. Easy round for Brilz, he takes the unanimous decision win.