The UFC hit Atlanta’s Philips Arena this past Saturday night for one of the most anticipated fights of the year: Jon “Bones” Jones vs. “Suga” Rashad Evans. Here are the highs and lows of this weekend’s event.
The energy in the crowd was intense. Many people had bought into the back story of Rashad being betrayed by former friend and training partner Jon Jones, and with this fight being delayed time and time again, everyone was truly excited to see the two best light heavyweights in the world square off in the Octagon.
Matt “The Immortal” Brown pulling off the huge shocker against Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson was amazing. All the hype that had been put on Thompson after his highlight reel KO of Dan Stittgen was a bit over the top, and it seemed like nobody thought Brown would last with the Wonderboy, but experience trumps hype, and Brown proved it by dominating Thompson on the ground. Maybe it’s just me but I love when a underdog pulls off a shocker.
Travis Browne really impressed, landing a double flying knee — Jose Aldo style — that nearly knocked the mutton chops off Chad Griggs in the final fight before the main card. Since Browne’s UFC debut he has been improving, and as soon as I learned of his move to Team Greg Jackson, I was awaiting big things. He had a high altitude gas fest with Rob Broughton at UFC 135 in Denver, but delivered an impressive performance against Griggs, and now he needs to step up into the upper echelon of the heavyweight division.
The majority of this card was great, especially the knockout Michael McDonald scored over Miguel Torres. I believe McDonald is two fights away from a shot at the belt, and I would love to see a fight between him and Renan Barao down the road. It would be a guaranteed high-paced, technical fight.
Rory MacDonald did what he does best, and won in convincing fashion. He is improving at a scary rate, and considering that he was seconds away from winning a decision against the current interim champ Carlos Condit, he is ready for contendership. I hope the UFC matches him up with the winner of Hendricks vs. Koscheck, so we can see where his takedown defense is really at, but I see him dominating the division once Georges St. Pierre loses his title.
I’m a big fan of Brendan Schaub, but he should not be fighting in the Heavyweight divison; he needs to make the cut to 205. Everyone loves a good knockout, but I was disturbed after Ben Rothwell lifted him off the ground and he looked like he was mime climbing a rope. He has taken some big knockouts, and I fear for his future health if he gets KO’d a few more times. Congratulations to Ben Rothwell on a big win nonetheless.
For a fanbase that had been waiting for Rashad Evans vs. Jon Jones since they watched Jon Jones rag doll Stephan Bonnar, whose hopes were dashed when Jones joined Team Greg Jackson, but saw their dreams restored when the infamous split occurred, seeing those two Light Heavyweights face each other was quite fortunate. However, the fight itself was a massive letdown. Many people expected Rashad to push the pace on Jones, but he stayed way outside and was content with playing the counter-striking game (which didn’t work for Machida, the best counter-striker in the division).
I think the only way to beat Jon Jones is to take risks, get in his face, be aggressive, and move forward. His next opponent, Dan Henderson, will do this, but he lacks the speed Evans has, and Jones will take him down with ease. Jon Jones will be champion for the foreseeable future, I’m afraid.