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UFC 145: Jones vs. Evans Aftermath Pt. 1

By Elias Cepeda

(Jon Jones successfully defended his UFC belt against Rashad Evans Saturday night)

For my money, Saturday night’s UFC 145 main event between Jon Jones and Rashad Evans was exactly what I’d want from a high-level grudge match. A quick stoppage could have led of talk of “luck,” or controversy and perhaps an immediate rematch.

Instead, the former training partners got to see each other from many different angles over the course of five long rounds. In so doing, each man passed tests they had yet to before, each got their licks in and we still had a clear winner.

In only his second career loss, Rashad Evans proved that he could get seriously hurt in a fight and keep going. The young champion Jones showed us much as well in going to a decision.

We know that Jones has the conditioning to go the distance. Perhaps more important than that, we now know that Jones, who recently steamrolled Lyoto Machida, Mauricio Rua and Quinton Jackson, won’t necessarily get frustrated when an opponent doesn’t quickly crumble under his onslaught.

Jones stayed patient, measured and effective throughout the fight with Evans, even when the challenger refused to quit after getting rocked. Jones also has a chin on him.

It would have been easy to miss because of how little he reacted to them, but Jones took some heavy single shots from Evans, right to the chin, temple and neck. And he didn’t even flinch.

We know that Evans has single strike KO power and he did find Jones on several occasions, with overhand rights and a clean head kick, but “Bones” ate those shots and kept coming. For someone that has been so elusive and barely touched over the course of his short career, Jones will undoubtedly have some extra confidence when he watches the fight film and sees how cleanly Evans hit him several times, and how well he himself reacted and countered those shots.

That ability will serve Jones well against his next challenger, Dan Henderson. Sergio Non of USA Today is reporting that Hendo will get the next crack at Jones, possibly this summer.

Being able to effectively absorb big single shots is kind of a prerequisite for fighting Henderson, who has one-punched more than his share of top stars over the years, in three different weight classes. Does Henderson’s punch more of a whallop than Evans’? I may be alone in thinking that, not necessarily.

But even if it does, Evans certainly sets up his more varied striking attack better, so that bodes well for Jones. What we can’t possibly know is how well Jones could handle Henderson’s upper body takedowns if Hendo gets in close as Evans did many times last night.

Jones kept his perfect takedown defense streak going Saturday against Evans but Henderson could snap it…or not. Here’s why:

Henderson’s takedown ability, especially from Greco roman style clinches, are on another level compared to Evans’ or anyone not named Randy Couture or Matt Lindland. So, a Hendo focused on staying safe on the feet and getting inside could probably put Jones on his back.

Thing is, trying to “stay safe” on the feet is not really Henderson’s thing. He usually comes out guns blazing with wild punches and that’s why we we’ve seen him get so many knockouts over the years. It’s also why he’s been taken down so many times in fights by people with less wrestling ability than him.

So there’s also a good chance that Jones would put Henderson on his back, which would be disaster for the forty something mega star. In any case, with his power and wrestling ability, Henderson is an easy sell as a title challenger to Jones.

Evans to middleweight?

Where Rashad Evans goes from here is open to question. On the one hand, he fared better than anyone else ever has against Jones by simply surviving for five rounds and also hitting the champ more than a few times.

On the other hand, he’d likely have win another 2-3 fights to be considered for another title shot at light heavyweight. However, if Evans were to drop to the compelling challenger-starved middleweight division, he could conceivably get a title shot with just one win in the division.

Yeah, I know, Evans originally fought in the UFC at heavyweight, but he (like Vitor Belfort before him) was over blown at that weight. And Evans might just be overblown at 205 as well.

Evans’ skill and talent has done a pretty good job of masking what could not be ignored Saturday night – and that’s that he is a small light heavyweight, period. Sure, he looks like a He-Man action figure, but that’s the point.

Someone with Evans’ muscle proportions at light heavyweight is clearly packing on extra weight – albeit muscle – to compete at 205. Evans looked like he was fighting his uncle against Jones, and that size disparity isn’t going anywhere. Hell, Evans is shorter than many top middleweights, including, (in my eye-ball estimation) champion Anderson Silva.

If Evans can find someway to, over time, change his body composition a bit and head to middleweight, he would immediately be a legit title contender, both in terms of marketability and in terms of his skill set. He’s a former champion, one of the bigger names in the sport, so that could help him get a quick title shot, like we’ve seen with Kenny Florian.

But Evans also brings the type of speed, power and wrestling that could give Anderson Silva or Chael Sonnen problems. Immediately after his loss Saturday to Jones, Evans’ pride wouldn’t allow him to concede his chances at light heavyweight, but he didn’t slam the door on middleweight either.

“I’m a 205-pounder,” Evans said at the post-event press conference. “I’ve only lost twice…But if an opportunity happens at 185, I’ll take it.”

Read Part 2 of the Aftermath for details on fight bonuses, GSP’s protege and what the future might hold for Miguel Torres.

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Double OG- April 23, 2012 at 5:21 pm
Hendo, FTMFW!
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Elias- April 22, 2012 at 5:58 pm
ringjoker, I would tend to agree with you. Dan Henderson was amazing in the Rua fight, but that said, he surely lost the fight of fights (mostly on his back getting pounded for the last 8-10 minutes) and I scored it at worst a draw for Shogun. But hey, the judges gave it to him, he's a legend, he's marketable and has, in some ways, a skill set that could theoretically cause problems for Jones. Can't blame the UFC for making that match up
Amjur- April 22, 2012 at 5:14 pm
I remember when these aftermath stories actually focused on the fights that just happened and not the ones that were in the works.

Was I the only surprised that Rashad didn't appear to attempt a single serious takedown? Speaking of surprises, Hominic looked like shit last night, badly losing a stand-up battle to a guy none of us had ever heard of. That's three losses in a row for him- winning FOTN will probably be the only thing preventing him from getting fired.
Dana_Plight- April 22, 2012 at 5:13 pm
It's funny; the meteoric rise and success of Jones has seemed to have the opposite effect for some people. Some people just see the boring weight division now because he is that much better than everyone right now. Plus he's really cocky, but has no wit, or humor. At least Ali was witty and funny (and polarizing) that was why people liked him
ringjoker80- April 22, 2012 at 4:30 pm
wow calm down ufc throwing hendo into the fire after only him and shogun had an even fight with hendo. now you want hendo to fight jones who destroyed shogun. this is more about filling up seats and selling tickets. right now put house money on jones because he is beating the best comp out there.
Elias- April 22, 2012 at 3:56 pm
FightZen, where did the quotation marks for the word "pundit" come from? Do you think I call myself a pundit? Are you calling me a pundit but don't believe yourself? lol

In any case, Evans has privately and publicly discussed going to 185lbs for at least over a year now, and commented on it as a possibility last night.

It isn't crazy talk. Furthermore, I'm sure he wouldn't consider non title fights "great" fights for him. Those quotations are from me, btw, quoting you...
FightZen- April 22, 2012 at 3:13 pm
I'm getting a little tired of every MMA "pundit" suggesting a fighter move weight classes after losing a title fight. Suga is a world class 205er. Even if he never gets another LHW shot, there are still plenty of great fights at 205 for him. There's nothing for him at MW except for a WORSE ass-whoopin' from Anderson.
Get Off Me- April 22, 2012 at 1:28 pm
"Does Henderson’s punch more of a whallop than Evans’? I may be alone in thinking that, not necessarily.".........

Yes your are alone with that thought Elias.
Anybody else notice Rogan calling Jon's short elbow a jab in the first round and then a hook in the second round?

karl5974- April 22, 2012 at 12:34 pm
I love hendo as much as the next guy but honestly i dont see this fight going any differently than rashads did. Bones is too tall and too long and way too good at using those attributes for anybody under 6 feet tall to do anything about it. I say let gustaffson get 1 more win against a bigger name and then throw him in there. You know , i used to love Bones , I loved how humble yet how talented he was , now as he gets bigger and bigger i see him more as somebody who drinks way too much of his own kool aid. Theres only so long you can be told that youre the greatest thing ever before you start to believe it yourself. I still like bones but more and more it seems i want somebody to bring this guy back to earth via severe KO. My money was on jones last night but i found myself rooting for rashad the whole time
Savageleto- April 22, 2012 at 10:13 pm
I completely agree. Although Gustaffson is similar in lankyness, Jones is far more fluid in his movements and definately has a greater command of his frame than Gus is.

I think Jones has to move up, as he fills out his frame, and because I am tired of watching him whup on guys he literally dwarfs.

Rashad even pulled a Frankie Edgar in there last night, when he caught the Jone's leg and tried to kick the other leg, and simply did not have the length to reach it.

Although Edgar did that about 15 times in the Henderson fight.

I am not the biggest fan of the way guys seek an advantage in a weighclass though.
SonOfSerbia- April 22, 2012 at 12:18 pm
Hendo could hardly survive that 5 rouder with Rua, what makes Dana think Hendo will last against Jones? Shad is way more explosive than Hendo and got repeatedly drilled. Hendo would also be giving up 9 inches of reach. The only people who have a remote chance of beating Jones are Gustafsson, The Spider, and maybe Vitor if he moved up to LHW.
enrikk- April 23, 2012 at 1:49 am
Dana didn't say that he thinks Hendo has a shot, he said that he likes that people think Hendo has one. He's just worried that Jones will be a hard sell for PPV now that no one seems to be in his league.

Silva has the same problem, by the way. Remember before Sonnen, people were talking about Mark Munoz as the next likely opponent? Who the hell would have paid for that? Stands would have been empty again after the prelims.
Savageleto- April 22, 2012 at 12:15 pm
Jones Vs Hendo will be the worst Title fight in UFC History...

I am most certainly not going to purchase that slaughter...

I love Hendo.. but he is going to get destroyed- He only has 2 punches, and neither of them are going to land.

This is going to be even worse than what Machida did to Randy... as Hendo is not as chinny as Randy is, so he is going to look like human hamburger..
'
Hendo.. we love you... Don't fight this kid.. he is too long and he knows how to use it.

JJ needs to fight at HW.
RwilsonR- April 22, 2012 at 1:45 pm
"...he is too long and he knows how to use it." - Man, if I had a nickel for every time I've heard that from a woman.
xrefused- April 22, 2012 at 11:45 am
Am I the only person who doesn't think jones was impressive?
enrikk- April 23, 2012 at 1:56 pm
You and Dan Hardy. And neither of you matter (no offense).
DangadaDang- April 22, 2012 at 12:30 pm
In a word: Yes.
enrikk- April 22, 2012 at 11:29 am
I see a lot of people saying that Jones controlled the distance and that he (also) landed good short elbows, but I don't think those were separate aspects of the fight - I think Jones simply used his short elbows to keep Rashad uncomfortable at the inside range (where Rashad expected to be successful).

But Jones won't need those elbow shots against Hendo. Hendo telegraphs his punches too much, and I see Jones really capitalizing on that. Clearly I'm not alone, though, because almost every article on Jones is devoid of comments - not even the haters are out defending Hendo.

I mean really, is it quiet in here, or is it just me?
Smokestack- April 22, 2012 at 11:23 am
io
RwilsonR- April 22, 2012 at 11:17 am
Hendo stands no chance, even with his extra testosterone.
MMA Mafia- April 22, 2012 at 10:57 am
What's Hondo's reach? It doesn't seem to be much more than Rashad. Plus isn't Dan a small LHW? I see him gassing out and unable to not only NOT take Jones down but not being able to get inside on him.
FightZen- April 22, 2012 at 3:25 pm
I think you meant Honda. Like Piston Honda.
Nippletwist- April 22, 2012 at 10:56 am
i still want to see rashad fight shogun and hendo.
HEY- April 22, 2012 at 10:56 am
Guess it's all up to Henderson now...
HEY- April 22, 2012 at 12:00 pm
3 votes down... Nice!
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