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Posted on August 20, 2012 by Jack Thurman
UFC 151 will take place on September 1, 2012 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. The main event of the evening will be a light heavyweight title defense by current champion Jon ‘Bones’ Jones as he faces off against challenger Dan Henderson. Jones has been tabbed as a fighter that could dominate his weight class for years and this could be his toughest test to date. Henderson is a legitimate legend in the sport who has held titles in several organizations and weight classes.
The fundamental question in this fight: Can Henderson’s vast experience overcome the size and strength of the much younger Jones? The old adage suggests that fighting is a ‘young man’s game’ and although he’s in great shape Henderson is 41 years old. Jones is just 25 and may not yet have reached his physical prime, let alone his prime as a fighter. One of the few downside raps on Jones is Henderson’s greatest strength–Jones didn’t even start training for MMA until 2008. Aside from experience as a high school wrestler, he entered the sport with no technical foundation. Henderson was a high level Greco Roman at the collegiate level and competed in the Olympics. When he began his MMA career Jones was just 10 years old. He’ll bring a record of 37-8 into this bout with all of his losses coming to the very highest level of opponent.
A case can be made that there is ‘no substitute for experience’, but all of the experience in the world may not be enough to counter the freakish physical advantage of the champion. Jones has the size and frame of a heavyweight but manages to cut to the light heavyweight limit of 205. He’s 6’4″ but his most formidable weapon is a mind boggling 84.5″ reach. Let’s put that reach into perspective by looking at some of the greatest heavyweights in boxing history: Muhammad Ali had a 78″ reach. George Foreman had an 82″ reach. Lennox Lewis came close with an 84″ reach. The massive “Dr Steelhammer” Wladimir Klitschko has an 81″ reach to go along with his 6’6″ height. The only boxer that immediately comes to mind that had a longer reach than Jones is 7 foot tall Russian Nikolay Valuev.
That’s why Jones’ physical advantages are so absurd, and particularly at the light heavyweight level. He’s got the height and reach of not only a heavyweight boxer, but of the greatest and most physically imposing heavyweights in history. If he does have a weakness it is his rather limited technical striking skills. He can get away with it in MMA where technical striking excellence is in short supply, but Joe Rogan’s histrionics notwithstanding he’s still very raw in the standup game. To his credit, he’s becoming a more effective, albiet unorthodox, standup fighter but were he to dedicate himself to some serious boxing training he could leverage his reach into a completely insurmountable weapon.
Jones is currently one of the most hyped fighters in the UFC and that–along with his ridiculous size and strength–has made him a sizable betting favorite against Henderson. Jones is currently a -700 UFC betting favorite with takeback on the challenger at +500. The over/under round prop on the fight is set at 2′ with the ‘under’ priced at -180 and the ‘over’ at +140.