After speaking with Duke Roufus about CM Punk picking Roufusport as his home for training (story coming to MMAmania.com shortly) I couldn't resist the urge to ask him who he liked in the UFC 182 main event between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier.
Aside from all the typical writer predictions that are all too common on fight week, I really find it fascinating to hear from a current or former fighter, or from a coach with the caliber and pedigree of Roufus, who himself was once a champion. Those are the opinions that I am most drawn to. Especially when it is unbiased and objective.
I asked Roufus, who has both competed in and coached others in big title fights, who would prevail in arguably the biggest championship fight in UFC history.
"Man that is a tough one and I'm connected to both sides of it. I've gotten to know 'DC' through Ben (Askren) because they were Olympic teammates. Daniel and Ben are very friendly and very close. I see an opportunity with Daniel's muscle and hustle to make some things happen. But Jon Jones, I really like the way Jon fights. One of the nicest compliments I've ever received is Jon said he learned how to strike from my DVDs when he first started striking and I was glad I had some small influence on him. I think Jon is just a special fighter and athlete. Speaking of the fights (we discussed Punk being used to being in front of huge crowds in WWE), he is a guy who when he gets in there, he does better. I think he is better in fights than he probably is in practice. That being said, I think the champion is going to get the toughest test of his career, but I think Jon can pull it out."
By what method will the champion rise to victory?
"Decision and him doing what he's done to a lot of guys," said Roufus, referring to how Jones has dismantled many an opponent. "The factor is him dealing with his range. He is a very rangy, long guy and uses it very well. But, unlike most long, rangy guys, he is a long, rangy guy who wrestled. A lot of people don't realize just because Jon doesn't have huge wrestling credentials. He was in Junior College making the transition to NCAAs. I think it was academic or something along those lines that he was in Junior College so he could make the transition to a big wrestling school. He had the arrival of his child and Jon 'Bones' Jones was created."
Lastly, we touched on the buildup of the fight: the trash talk, brawl and everything else that has pushed the rivalry to a fever pitch.
"Me, I'm not against the way they behaved before the fight," Roufus says. "That is raw human emotion. Some times you are not going to like the guys you get into the Octagon with. That is fighting. Sometimes you get in the ring with guys you respect and guys you are buddies with and you throw down just as hard. As human beings we love that tension. Tension builds great, legendary fights. Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran, Ali and Frazier, those legendary rivalries is what this sport is about."
Will UFC 182 live up to the hype?
Remember: MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 182 fight card tonight (Jan. 3, 2015) RIGHT HERE, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, and then the remaining under card balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET before the PPV start time at 10 p.m. ET.
For much more on tonight's UFC 182 mixed martial arts (MMA) extravaganza, check out our complete "Jones vs. Cormier" news archive by clicking here.