UFC light-heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (19-4 MMA, 3-2 UFC) may believe he’s faced opponents of similar stature to Jon Jones (12-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC). He may think he had no problems getting inside their long limbs and chopping away with kicks and punches.
But he’d be wrong, according to Jones.
The challenger said he’s a better version of two opponents – Cyrille “The Snake” Diabate and Alistair Overeem – to which Rua has compared him in the buildup to their meeting at UFC 128, which takes place Saturday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
Rua could claim otherwise until the dust clears from his first title defense. He iced the pair in question as a 23-year-old in the heyday of PRIDE. They both were longer than him and seasoned strikers in their own right, and it mattered little when matched against his intensity.
Now Jones is in Rua’s place as a 23-year-old who’s shot up the ranks with a freewheeling and aggressive style. The champ is now 29 years old, but he hasn’t lost much of the intensity that made him a breakout star.
Both agree there are several comparisons that can be made from their respective careers. But Jones said there are none when it comes to breaking down Saturday’s fight based on past competition.
“I’m not ‘Snake’ or Overeem,” Jones said. “Where ‘Snake’ was really good at striking, ‘Snake’ had zero physical strength. ‘Snake’ had zero wrestling, and ‘Snake’ had zero jiu-jitsu. So I’m not ‘Snake.’
“And when he says he’s fought Overeem? Me and Overeem have similarities in being tall. I think I’m taller than Overeem. I know that my arms are longer. I think my strength could match to Overeem to where Overeem was in that point in his career. I look at myself as an Overeem with better wrestling, and better jiu-jitsu, and (a) more unpredictable style.
“Where he’s mentioned he’s fought tall black guys before, (I’m) a lot different than both of those two.”
Whether or not Rua thinks he’s already got the answer for Jones, his approach isn’t going change, the challenger said. That’s when he’ll know he’s in for a different kind of fight.
“I think he’s going to rush me,” Jones said. “I think he’s going to rush me and look for that right knee. Maybe I’ll go for a shot, and maybe I’ll go for a face shot into an attack.
“But I think he’s going to rush me, and if he does, we’ll be ready for that.”