(What? Is that ghost you’ve been staring at all these years on his lunch break?)
By Ryan Sarr
The time for talk is up. For over a year now, we’ve watched as Jon Jones and Rashad Evans’ relationship has deteriorated from training partners willing to fake injury to avoid fighting one another, to bitter enemies just waiting for the chance to beat the other into a living death. Is all the personal heat real? Can these two bury the hatchet after the fight? We’ll find out soon enough, but either way, this has all the makings of a can’t miss war that will not soon be forgotten. All signs point to a decisive victory for “Bones” in ATL tomorrow night, but as we all know, anything can happen in a fight. So join me as I break down all the main card fights taking place at UFC 145 and give you my street-certified predictions.
Jon Jones (15-1, 9-1 UFC) vs. Rashad Evans (17-1-1, 12-1-1 UFC)
At only 24 years old, Jones has already been in more title fights(3) than the 32 year-old Evans(2). So clearly, Jones should not be intimidated, for he is battle-tested and has proven himself worthy of carrying that UFC Light Heavyweight belt. And not only has Jones taken out three former UFC champions in his last three fights, he has done so in devastating fashion. In his last fight, Jones dropped Lyoto Machida (a.k.a the man who made Rashad do the cross-eyed stanky leg) face down on the mat after choking him unconscious. That type of win has to make Jones feel good going into his fight with Rashad.
While Jones comes into Saturday night riding a stratospheric surge of momentum, Rashad enters this fight following an unceremonious, workmanlike decision victory over Phil Davis at UFC on Fox in January. However, there are many positives to take away from that victory, the first of which being the decisive, dominant manner in which Rashad managed to defeat a very talented prospect in Davis. “Suga” overcame a significant reach disadvantage (like he will face with Jones) to close the gap and effectively control Davis with his superior wrestling and ground game. Second, Rashad finally had the chance to prove that he could go the full five rounds, and imposed his will on “Mr. Wonderful” from the start of round 1 to the end of the fifth. Most of the Potato Nation seems to agree that his fight with Jones will likely be a knock down, drag out war that tests the will, strength, and cardiac endurance of both men, so it’s good to know that Rashad will be able to keep up with Jones if the fight makes it into the championship rounds. Finally, Rashad demonstrated that once he gets his opponent down on the mat, he can do some serious damage. So even if Rashad may not be able to stand and trade with Jones, he at least knows that if he can get Jones down, his chances of grinding out a victory significantly increase.
Join us after the jump for more on Jones/Evans, as well as a break down of all of the main card’s match-ups.