UFC 126 is set to be an exciting card. With the big time matchup between Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort, the world is waiting in anticipation to know exactly what will happen. With the entire buzz that is surrounding the card’s main event, the most important matchup may actually occur well before we find out if we have a new champion or not.
Ryan Bader versus Jon Jones is the blueprint for how a mixed martial arts organization should bring up rising young talent. The executives within UFC noticed that they have two young and marketable stars in their mists and they acted accordingly on how to foster the development of their talent.
Bader (27) and Jones (23) were both brought up very slowly through the UFC ranks. Jones became better known for his highlight reel clips, such as the spinning back elbow against Stephan Bonnar, which caught the eye of numerous fans. Bader, on the other hand, grinded out victories to climb to a 12-0 record. Jones is 11-1; however that single loss is due to a technical mistake of using “12 to 6” elbow strikes against Matt Hamill. Even in this fight he was dominating Hamill at every stage.
The winner of this fight is set for a major push throughout 2011. The loser takes a serious step back in their career and may not get the shot at big name competitors that he wants. Momentum plays a big part in combat sports match making and the UFC has used it very well in deciding when to make what matches. That same factor will play a in the career whoever wins this fight.
A victory for Jones and he is almost immediately placed in the title hunt. I personally believe that Joe Silva and Dana White would put him against the winner of Rashad Evans versus Mauricio Rua for the UFC Light Heavyweight title. Fans have taken to Jones and that type of marketability is worth money to the organization. A victory for Bader and I believe he is placed one fight out for the belt. His next opponent would be the winner of Thiago Silva versus Quinton Jackson.
No matter the outcome of the battle, the UFC has built up two young fighters that can and will continue to grow for years to come. Other organizations that are looking to take their place in the mixed martial arts community should take heed as to how to develop young talent.
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