Tonight, the cage door will close and Jon Jones will finally fight Rashad Evans for the Light Heavyweight title. This fight has been nearly two years in the making and fueled by drama surrounding Evans’ sudden departure from Greg Jackson’s camp. I will be brief with my commentary on the Soap Opera surrounding these two; Jackson picked Jones as his horse in the Light Heavyweight division and left Evans hanging out to dry. To me, Jackson contradicted his whole philosophy that his team is a “family” and that his fighters will never have to fight each other. (Dana White reiterates my point a little more colorfully here) Rashad is now training with the “Blackzilians” in Florida and seems to be in a positive place in his career. After watching the weigh ins last night, these two are
ready to BRAWL. Jones walked to the scale with a fire that I have never really seen out of the young champ. The two then had a tense nose to nose face off, differing from Jones’ usual stare-off-into-space-like-I’m-too-cool-for-this approach. Oddly enough, the crowd loudly booed the Champ and seemed to favor Rashad, a trend I am seeing carry into the online MMA community.
This card has been panned by some for resembling a high profile boxing Pay-Per-View. To the untrained eye, this card features only one marquee bout and a whole bunch of “filler” beneath it. I highly disagree, this card will surely feature some explosive finishes and absolute wars. Matt Brown and “Wonderboy” Thompson will surely be throwing bombs at each other until one of them is staring at the roof of the arena. Both will be looking to strike, but I think the Wonderboy will come out on top with a highlight KO. I am excited to see what Rory MacDonald has in store for us in the co-Main Event. GSP proclaimed the young Canuck to be a future champ this week; it is hard to disagree.
Rory’s opponent, Che Mills, seems to be a little below his skill level and I expect a spectacular finish for MacDonald in this one. Hopefully setting him up for a run to the upper echelon of the sport. Ben Rothwell and Brendan Schaub are set for an old fashioned slobberknocker with the fourth fight of the night. Rothwell came into the weigh-in in unbelievable shape, he may surprise those that picked the TUF-alum Schaub to roll over him. My picks for the undercard are in bold below:
MAIN CARD (Pay-per-view)
- Rory MacDonald vs. Che Mills
- Ben Rothwell vs. Brendan Schaub
- Michael McDonald vs. Miguel Torres
- Mark Hominick vs. Eddie Yagin
- John Alessio vs. Mark Bocek
PRELIMINARY CARD (FX)
- Travis Browne vs. Chad Griggs
- Matt Brown vs. Stephen Thompson
- John Makdessi vs. Anthony Njokuani
- Mac Danzig vs. Efrain Escudero
Now on to the main course…
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE BOUT
Champion Jon “Bones” Jones vs. “Suga” Rashad Evans
I wrote out three different previews for this fights. Each increasing in length and each increasing in depth. Though, when I started analyzing Jones relationship with his brother, and Rashad’s recent marital troubles, I told myself to stop. Every aspect of this fight OUTSIDE of the cage has been analyzed. We know they trained together, we know Jackson will be in Jones’ corner, and we know that these guys don’t like eachother. People believe that it is a foregone conclusion that Jones is winning this fight (especially the guys in Vegas). Therefore, the story about this match up has focused on the extensive history between these two outside of the cage. Don’t get me wrong, it is great that this drama has made this bout one of the most anticipated in the 205 lb. division since Ortiz and Liddell were the kings, but not many people have talked about the fight itself…
Both guys are great strikers. Rashad has shown one punch KO power, Jones does not. Both are great on the ground, Jones has shown the ability to submit opponents, Rashad has not. Bones has lost once, Rashad has lost once. Both guys are freakishly athletic. Both have had the Light Heavyweight belt around their waist’s and have multiple wins over top tier fighters and former champs. But somehow Jones is a 6 to 1 favorite???? I just don’t understand it. This is going to be a battle, the fighter that wins is going to have to force his gameplan early and make the other guy uncomfortable. I think Rashad could win if he presses Jones early and establishes the center of the cage as his own. Rashad hits like a freakin’ freight train and Jones could be in for a early night if Rashad connects with a right hand. Jones’ path to victory lies on the ground. Rashad has rarely been put on his back and Jones can easily make Evans a beached turtle. If he puts Evans’ in defensive mode, I can see Jones working a submission win similiar to the Rampage fight.
After watching the Primetime special leading up to this scrap, I think Rashad has a great chance to spoil Bones (and the UFC’s) party tonight. He is in a great place mentally and doesn’t seem as fixated on all of the crap outside of the ring as Jones is. Jones had a focus on Rashad’s thoughts and words that was a little odd to me. Just days before the biggest fight of his career and he was worried about what the other guy was thinking? I think Rashad enters this fight with a clear mind and nothing to lose. On Primetime, he said something about wanting to “change the way Jon Jones lives his life”, these words struck me, they showed true determination. I think Rashad will succeed in that task tonight and once again become the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion.
(Not for long though, make sure to pay attention to who ends up in the cage after the winner’s hand is raised!!!)
Who do you have in tonight’s big fight? Let us know in the comment section.