UFC light heavyweight Jimi Manuwa made comments earlier this week in regards to former champion Jon Jones, as reported by MMA News. Manuwa expressed his confidence in the division, and when prompted as to the caliber of Jones’ ability as an opponent, Manuwa sounded off.
“I think I could knock him out. He’s fought Teixeira, who is one-dimensional and doesn’t have the variety of striking that I’ve got. Jones has never fought a knockout specialist. I’d like to see him fight me or ‘Rumble,’ and see how he puts up with getting hit on the chin.”
UFC Fight Night 107 just finished up, and displayed another showcase of fireworks, as the event came to a close tonight with a pair of knockouts and a submission. The main event featured fearless kickboxer Jimi Manuwa and The Ultimate Fighter 19 winner Corey Anderson. The two clashed for barely three minutes before Manuwa secured a walkaway knockout victory in the very first round. Manuwa is currently riding back-to-back wins, after being knocked out in 2015 by the number one title contender, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson.
— MMAHEYDAY (@MMAHEYDAY) March 18, 2017
Jon Jones hasn’t been as active, as the former champion was stripped of his interim title and has been serving a one year suspension ever since. Jones tested positive for banned substances by USADA, and has been sidelined in the UFC until July of this year. As Jones’ suspension nears its end, people have been wondering who he’ll face upon his return, as reported by MMA Fighting. UFC President Dana White first stated that he’d “never risk a main event with Jon Jones again,” but later retracted his comment and explained that “Jones would probably try to get his title back.”
Light heavyweight contender Jimi Manuwa doesn’t agree. Stepping off yet another knockout victory, Manuwa likes the idea of a No. 1 contender eliminator bout to see who should get the opportunity to challenge the champion for the title. Manuwa was a champion himself, having earned the UCMMA light heavyweight title in 2009, which he defended five times over the following two-and-half-years. Manuwa briefly fought for the BAMMA organization before stepping into the UFC, where he’s competed ever since.
Manuwa only has two losses across his career, a pair of KOs coming from title challengers Alexander Gustafsson and Rumble Johnson. Gustafsson is a longtime kickboxer who’s known for his five-round war with Jon Jones. Rumble is fighting current light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier at UFC 210 this April.
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Jimi Manuwa has learned from those defeats, reported Sky Sports. In an interview, Manuwa explained that when he was an unbeaten prospect he was “fighting blind,” not taking his opponents seriously. When questioned about his loss to Gustafsson, Manuwa elaborated.
“I hadn’t even watched any of his fights. Those little fine details, when you get to the top, you’ve got to pay attention to.”
Manuwa recognized that he was competing at the highest level and tweaked his game plan accordingly. On his loss to Rumble, Manuwa was even more critical of his performance.
“I took a lot of good stuff from the ‘Rumble’ fight like my weight, my strength. I made a silly mistake by throwing a head kick without putting anything behind it, which cost me the fight. One little mistake at the highest level costs you a fight, which I’ve learned.”
— Josh Custer (@CusterJosh) March 6, 2017
Jon Jones is known as an incredible athlete, having never been legitimately defeated and having dismantled most of his opposition with surprising ease. With his time away from the Octagon, Jones has taken up other ventures such as weightlifting and running marathons, per Sherdog. Jones slimmed down for his return fight against OSP, which Jones won via decision, so making weight for a fight this summer certainly won’t be an issue. Whether Manuwa will get his wish to welcome Jon Jones back to the Octagon himself is still up in the air. His knockout over Anderson today is certainly a step in the right direction.
[Featured Image by Steve Marcus/Getty Images]