UFC 145: Jones vs. Evans went down in Atlanta last night, and was another entertaining and successful show for the UFC, finally settling the Jones/Evans feud that felt like it had been running for ever. Elsewhere on the card a great mix of knockouts, submissions and fights that made it to the final bell took place as new prospects established themselves and former contenders slipped further down their divisional ladders.
Jon Jones def. Rashad Evans via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 50-45) – retains UFC Light-heavyweight title
After a fairly even first round, Jon Jones took control of this fight and dominated Rashad Evans en route to a wide unanimous decision victory. Evans had some early success, and even if he didn’t win the first round he was very competitive coming forward, keeping Jones under pressure and landing with punches and kicks. He started to fall behind on the scorecards and get outstruck in the second round after he failed to heed the advice of his cornerman Tyrone Spong and started backing up. This allowed Jones to keep Evans on the end of kicks and punches as well as throwing in standing elbows that really seemed to hurt Evans when the opportunity arose.
In the later rounds Evans was noticeably tired and inactive. He could not figure out how to get inside and hit Jones, and looked content to simply survive rather than go for broke and swing for the fences. Jones was very comfortable and continued to land strikes almost at will until the final bell.
Jones will match up with Dan Henderson for his next fight where he could score a victory over his 6th top-10 light-heavyweight in a row and surely cement himself as the greatest of all time in the division. Evans is convinced that he will stay at 205 pounds where he will remain amongst the top five fighters in the world at the absolute worst. However, I would hope he would consider a move to middleweight. I expect Anderson Silva to retire soon, and Evans would have an excellent shot of becoming the champion there.
Full set of results and more analysis in the full post
Rory MacDonald def. Che Mills via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 2:20
As most fans would have predicted, Rory Macdonald ran through the helpless Che Mills, delivering a brutal beating to the helpless Brit. As soon as MacDonald got the first takedown it was obvious that Mills was going to be out of his depth and in for a rough night. MacDonald never looked like relinquishing control as he hammered punches repeatedly into Mills’ face leaving it a bloody, swollen mess. There can be no doubt that Mills is seriously tough as he persevered thought the 1st round, but the finish was obviously forthcoming and came in the 2nd after MacDonald ferociously persisted with ground-and-pound.
Despite Joe Rogan’s determined claims that Che Mills was a dangerous opponent for MacDonald, most educated observers knew this was not the case, and it certainly became immediately apparent early on in the fight that it wasn’t. For that reason we did not really learn anything new about Rory MacDonald. However, he did confirm that he is a dangerous welterweight who is going to positively run-over all bet the very best in the weight class, and he is deserving of another match-up with a top-10 fighter next time out. For my money Martin Kampmann would be an ideal candidate.
Ben Rothwell def. Brendan Schaub via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 1:10
It appears that I was wrong to write Ben Rothwell off. He came into this fight in excellent shape and silenced his doubters by answering a flurry of punches from Brendan Schaub with a left-hook that crumpled the young heavyweight into a heap.
It was easy to write Rothwell off after he was run over in his UFC debut by Cain Velasquez, then struggled to victory against Gilbert Yvel and finally slumped to a UD loss to Mark Hunt. However, it appears his scattered schedule and injury issued may well have had a lot to do with the low level of his performances over the last couple of years. An in-shape and focused Ben Rothwell can clearly withstand heavy punches and fire back with very hard punches of his own. He is big, even for a heavyweight, and he has an all-round MMA game that stacks up well enough to set himself up nicely in the middle of the UFC heavyweight division if he can develop some consistency.
Brendan Schaub has a problem. He is a good fighter who looks like he may continue to be let-down by an atrocious chin. Each of his 3 career losses have been knockouts thanks to single power punches. This is a serious liability for a fighter, especially at heavyweight, where there is a history of talented fighters (e.g. Andrei Arlovski) being constantly undermined by not being able to take a punch. I think he is talented enough to win fights in the UFC, and young enough to keep improving, but his progress may well be halted time and time again by an issue that is largely out of his control.
Rothwell won the $65,000 KO of the night bonus
Michael McDonald def. Miguel Torres via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 3:18
The bantamweight division has a new face at the elite level thanks to Michael ‘Mayday’ McDonald’s impressive display against former divisional kingpin Miguel Torres.
Coming into the fight I found it hard to believe that so many people had been writing Torres off, and I had put some money on him thanks to odds that I thought were tremendous value. I regretted that decision after about 30-40 seconds of the fight when McDonald appeared to manoeuvre around Torres’ jab get in close, and land strong uppercuts. Torres looked visibly rattled by this, and could not counter effectively each time McDonald closed in. Eventually McDonald landed cleanly enough to hurt Torres and, smelling blood, he pounced and landed the killer shot that closed the show rendering his follow-up punches academic.
Another promising young fighter is welcome in the contender-starved 135 p0und division, especially one so young who hits so hard. Fighters who have true fight-finishing power are rare in the lighter weight classes, and it seems like that is the kind of attribute that could be most threatening to champion Dominick Cruz seeing as no-one is going to outwork him. Though McDonald will not be getting a title shot yet, the fact that he is on a roll, and has such a valuable attribute as a part of his offence means that he should not be too far away.
Torres’ days as a contender are surely over. He still probably has the tools to beat a great deal of fighters in the division, but not fighters at the higher echelons of the rankings with serious striking ability
Eddie Yagin def. Mark Hominick via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Former title contender Mark Hominick lost his 3rd fight in a row in a tremendous upset that further reduces his status in the UFC featherweight division, and makes the possibility of a rematch with José Aldo seem more remote than ever. The victor Eddie Yagin picked up his first win inside The Octagon.
Hominick’s was unable to pick his opponent apart with technical striking as he would have liked as Yagin succeeded in turning the fight into a scrappy war. Yagin put constant pressure on Hominick dropped him in the first round, and again in the second, allowing him to take both rounds on 2 of the judges’ scorecards. Hominick started to land more often in the third, but it was too-little too-late as Yagin survived and took the decision. Both fighters were a bloody mess having left everything in the cage, and deservedly took home $65,000 each in fight-of-the-nigh bonuses.
This was a huge win for Eddie Yagin, but he’ll probably have to get a couple more wins under his belt before he starts to make a significant impact in the featherweight division. After 3 losses in a row, Hominick’s position in the UFC is looking to be at risk. However, he nearly always puts on good fights, and is unlikely to be cut without the chance of having one more do-or-die fight where he will probably be matched up favourably. On the other hand, this was supposed to be exactly that kind of fight so he certainly can’t take his next opponent lightly.
Mark Bocek def. John Alessio via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)
A convincing performance from one of the most underrated fighters in the UFC. Mark Bocek controlled this fight against John Alessio for almost the entirety of the 3 rounds and I’m frankly surprised that one of the judges gave Alessio a round on the scorecards.
The omens were never good for Alessio for this fight, brought back into the UFC as a late replacement against a rock solid, well-established fighter, but he’ll certainly get another shot in the promotion and it will be interesting to see whether this cut to 155 will have a positive enough effect as to allow him to compete in the shark-tank that is the UFC’s lightweight division.
Bocek should be matched up against another contender for his next fight. He has only lost to champion Ben Henderson and top-contender Jim Miller (thanks to a highly debatable decision) in the last couple of years. Luckily, the lightweight division is so stacked with talent, Joe Silva could pretty much pick any fighter coming off a victory and create an intriguing and potentially exciting match-up for Bocek.
Travis Browne def. Chad Griggs via submission (arm-triangle choke) – Round 1, 2:29. Browne wins $65,000 submission of-the-night-bonus
Matt Brown def. Stephen Thompson via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 29-28)
Anthony Njokuani def. John Makdessi via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Mac Danzig def. Efrain Escudero via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Chris Clements def. Keith Wisniewski via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
Marcus Brimage def. Maximo Blanco via split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)