The champion is here to stay.
With four victories over four former champions, Jon Jones has now completed what was lingering as his toughest task – he has defeated Rashad Evans. Jones bested Evans in a five-round Unanimous Decision at UFC 145 at the Phillips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia on April 21st, 2012. The pair headlined a stacked six-fight main-card infront of a sold-out audience, and though they went the distance, the fight surely did not dissappoint.
Jon “Bones” Jones is the first ever UFC sponsored fighter, and he came through. Jones out-struck Evans in all five-rounds of action. He took a few speed bombs from Evans, as well as a head-kick at the end of the first round – but the champion proved too long and crafty for Evans to deal with. Numerous front kicks, long punches, and sneeky, vicious elbows kept Evans at bay, rocking him on multiple occasions.
Possibly the most interesting things about the fight was Evans unwillingness to wrestle. Almost everyone, including Jones, expected him to be hunting for take-downs. A few brief clinches and a couple of moderate commitments to a double are about all we saw from Evans. I personally expected him to run Jones down and attach himself to Jones’ hips, making the fight a tight fence-clinching take-down battle.
His choice to strike was probably very thought out – maybe he felt, “as if”, to use a Jones term, he wouldn’t be able to win the wrestling match? It appears that he had no confidence in his abilities to take Jones down even once. This speaks volumes on just how good Jones’ Greco-Roman style of wrestling really is. It shows us that the common “hold him down” game-plan forseen to defeat Anderson Silva may not apply to Jones, and that he may be excelling to new levels unforeseen in MMA.
Next up for Jones will be an old, tough veteran in Dan Henderson. A big right hand is all Jones really has to worry about in this match-up, and it is likely that he will be a very heavy favorite. Looking beyond Henderson, there really aren’t many light-heavyweights that seem like they will be able to challenge Jones. He has already defeated Ryan Bader, Shogun Rua, Rampage Jackson, Lyoto Machida, and now Rashad Evans.
Alexander Gustafsson has been a hot topic, but can he deal with the wrestling? Phil Davis may be a threat, but will his striking and MMA wrestling ever get to that level? One must look to Strikeforce to find top 205′ers like Gegard Mousasi, King Mo Lawal, and Rafael Feijao Cavalcante to find possible competitive match-ups. Based on the landscape of the division under Jones, he is going to be the reigning champion for a long, long time. Welcome to the Jones era.