Pedro Carrasco, BJPENN.COM MMA News Director, Writes of Jon Jones’ Speculation About Youth Vs. Experience As Factor In Upcoming Fight Against Belfort:September 20th, 2012 by Joshua Scott Beranis
I can only think back to UFC 107 in 2009, when Penn and Sanchez faced off. Sanchez, 26 at the time,entered the cage and put on as gnarly a war-face as possible, even growling at Penn from across the octagon, bobbing from left to right. Penn, then 29, calmly absorbed the chaotic expressions of “The Nightmare” (as Sanchez was called), making no ridiculous faces, and reserving himself for the start of the bout.
Calmness, and a respectful professionalism (at least post-bout) is more along the lines of what I seem to be observing from the saltier MMA competitor locally. It’s the same among those competing in the UFC. These guys have just as much access to information about their opponents as the hardcore MMA fan. I’d like to believe that in preparation for a bout, a certain amount of respect is healthy for a fighter. I’m referring to the type of respect a bull-rider might have for a bull.
Three years is not so much of an age difference, as in the case of Diego Sanchez and BJ Penn, but when it comes to a training regiment, and wisdom in the cage, even a month can mean a huge change in perception for a fighter, regardless of age. Just consider the first amazing book you ever read, unbelievable painting you ever saw, or the greatest rock and roll song you ever heard. How quickly did they change your life? That is the speed at which the MMA devotee is absorbing their most celebrated or deeply significant experiences. This rule of absorption is certainly relative. Regardless, whether it is the smell of blood during a tense bout, the moment a maneuver finally makes sense and finds form in the gym, or when they feel the strange flush of surprise and disbelief while being put back on their feet after a loss, these experiences are tremendous.
However, this is not “The Highlander” starring Christopher Lambert. No matter how many opponents you take down, no matter how skilled they are, a list of those fallen in your path will not compare to the application of a fighter’s experience. Not to mention, three years really is a long time. For BJ Penn, it was obviously what seperated and distinguished him from a young and ambitious Diego “The Nightmare” Sanchez, during that historic bout. Penn’s feet were planted as firmly as two blocks of lead in a puddle of mud as Sanchez resembled a toddler attempting to uplift The Incredible Hulk.
Looking at the local amateurs as they make the transition into the professional circuit, faced with more scrutiny, receiving more personal obstacles as the leaps toward their goals become farther from their immediate reach, the chasms becoming deeper, the pressure of sponsorship rising, even an hour can be ultimate.
In the cage, all that is needed is a split second for life-changing events to take place. The fighter either wreathes their way out of the slumber of defeat, often kicking and screaming inside, or they are placed on that fragile pedestal, temporarily relieved of that throbbing instinct, so ancient and fundamental. Kill or be killed. **
If Jon Jones is saying that he feels his youth will play a major role in his victory, I am going to agree. I just don’t think it will be as much to his advantage as he is dreaming. The chance for Jones’ defeat sparkles loud and clear for me in this quote from Carrasco’s article on BJPENN.COM, where Jones says : I believe that with my youth and lack of experience comes a certain amount of ambition and drive. I’m excited about being the younger fighter, and I think it plays to my advantage, tremendously.”
This is striking me from an angle similar to a villain in Charles Frazier’s ”Cold Mountain”, who tells the protagonist that he has “the confidence of youth” on his side, as the two then snap a bullet out of the muzzle of their guns at the same time toward one another.
We are talking almost ten years difference between the fighters, but the age difference between himself and Rashad Evans may be lending some confidence to Jones’ pre-concieved victory.
Belfort was once a similar embodiment to Jones, and that could be where Jones’ weakness is hidden. Having been the youngest fighter to win a sanctioned match in the cage at the age of 19, Belfort has a bit of an edge, and could very well know what to be expecting from Jones. If Jones gains victory over Belfort, it could be related more to the intelligence which Dana White admires so much in him. Attempting to be wild or unpredictable could prove a careless mistake, as Vitor Belfort is all too familiar with the aspect of being an auspicious youth. It might also piss him off that he is basically being called an old fart by his opponent.
Link to Pedro Carrasco’s article: http://www.bjpenn.com/mmanews/2012/09/18/jones-jones-believes-his-youth-is-a-huge-advantage-over-belfort-ufc-news-36960.html