UFC 145: Jon Jones elbow-smashes Rashad Evans
The Phillips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia, played host to some of the best tailgate parties the UFC has seen, and the UFC light heavyweight championship, featuring champion Jon ‘Bones’ Jones (16-1) vs. ‘Suga’ Rashad Evans (17-2). Evans was touted as Bones’s toughest test to date, and proved it by going the distance. Barely.
Both men entered the ring and faced each other crouched, the last of the head games prior to the actual fight. Months of training and verbal assaults between these two former stable mates were in the past. Time to let technique flow.
Bones likes to keep opponents guessing, not only within a fight, but from fight to fight, so fans were left pondering his approach for Evans. From the first bell, Jones used distance and methodical forward movement to slow Evans down and stymie his usual fluid circling. Evans is extremely hard to pin down. Not so this night. Bones was hypnotizing Evans into his own pace.
Although both men are superb wrestlers, this is why the fight didn’t go to the ground. This fact did not benefit Evans, who Jones kept at bay: the challenger was only able to land a few dangerous punches throughout the fight.
Jones’s two main weapons were lead elbows and front kicks. The lead elbows were thrown almost like punches, something his long limbs and superb footwork allow. After the fight, Rashad Evans referred to them as “sneaky elbows”, and sneaky they were.
The front kick, when applied properly, lands anywhere from the belly to the breastplate, and even the mandible. The technique effectively stops an opponent dead. More than any other move, the front kick amplified Jones’s size advantage and control over the Octagon.
At moments in the fight Bones looked ready to finish Suga, but there was so much at stake in this fight---the title, bragging rights, months of back-and-forth banter---it was understandable there would be caution.
The pace of the fight was not furious---Bones ensured that---and neither fighter was significantly tired at the end. Evans trains in Florida, at sea level; Bones trains at 5000 feet in Albuquerque. It was the champ’s pinpoint accuracy and more than 2-1 advantage striking that sapped Evans, not altitude training.
Two judges scored the fight 49-46, and one scored it a shutout at 50-45. Considering the utter dominance throughout, two judges must have given Evans a sympathy round. The computer tallies, which are deadly accurate, should be used to judge MMA. Currently, boxing-type scoring is used, which is about as applicable to MMA as figure skating-type scoring. The athletic commissions should not be relying on human error to score fights where fighter’s careers and fan’s money are on the line.
Viewers wanted a faster fight, and a finish, but Jones’s took the bona fide #1 contender and made him look simple. Evans was, and still may be, the legit #1, and he was left twirling his jock.
At this date, there is no challenger to Bones, although the UFC will make one out of perennial tough-guy Dan Henderson, or Alexander Gustafsson, Sweden’s 6’5” entry in the 205 pound class. Till then, Bones can put this nasty chapter behind him.
Among several Canadians on the card, British Columbian standout Rory MacDonald (13-1) did not surprise with his demolition of British tough guy Che Mills (14-5). Rory is touted by many, including Georges St. Pierre, as the next phenom in MMA. MacDonald is the first fighter in the UFC to begin training in MMA, rather than having first specialized in a single art, such as karate or freestyle wrestling.
Mills’s father was imprisoned in Britain for 15 years, for a murder he didn’t commit, and released after it was proven police framed him. This would destroy many young men, but Che has become a successful and devastating mixed martial artist.
Che began taking the fight to MacDonald, and drove him to the fence with hard, accurate shots. Rory clinched and took the fight down, punishing his opponent with brutal ground control and pinpoint accuracy with shots to the downed Mills. The ref ended the fight at 2:20 of round 2.
So far, MacDonald’s only loss is to current interim champ Carlos Condit. MacDonald is only 22. He will be champ one day. You read it here.
To see further UFC 145 results, click here.
Follow Renko on Twittter @RenkoStyranka