Heading into UFC 182 much has been made of Daniel Cormier’s wrestling game, and for good reason, but Jon Jones believes folks are overlooking his own, extensive background in the sport.
Cormier, of course, is a former Olympic wrestler, who clearly has had little difficulties incorporating his grappling skills into MMA. Jones may not have the same level of wrestling creds as “DC”, but as the light-heavyweight champ recently told UFC.com, his path to MMA stardom also came through wrestling.
“I want to show off my capabilities on the mat,” said Jones. “From the time I was a kid, wrestling meant everything to me. I changed my focus to mixed martial arts and my career showed what kind of focus I have. It doesn’t mean my love of wrestling has gone away.”
“I almost feel the whole wrestling community is backing Cormier,” Jones said. “It’s as if I’m not a guy who has come from that community. I’ve been to the Fargo (National Wrestling Championships) and so many other national tournaments. I really feel like I should still be associated with being a wrestler. One guy in eight years (Gustafsson) has been able to take me to the ground. His (Cormier’s) accolades shouldn’t overshadow the fact that my heart is still on the mat.”
In the story, Jones’ wrestling coach at Union-Endicott (N.Y.) High, Jack “J.J” Stanbro, was quoted saying he believes the fighter could have wrestled in the Olympics. Stanbro cited the fact that “Bones” won a national junior college championship as a freshman.
And of course, the wrestling side to this fight is one of the reasons it’s so compelling. Jones hasn’t had to fight off his back throughout his storied reign as champion, and if Cormier can take him down and keep him there, it will be fascinating to see how the light-heavyweight performs. Of course, the same could be said for Cormier, who has been able to dominate his opponents in the wrestling department thus far.
Then, there’s also a chance that the wrestling skills of both men negate one another, and the fight ends up being a stand-up war. Thankfully, we’ll get to see what unfolds soon enough.
UFC 182 will be take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, tomorrow night.