Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has done it again, bringing the heat to "Hotlanta" with an action-packed mixed martial arts (MMA) fight card in the form of UFC 145: "Jones vs. Evans" on Sat., Apr. 21, 2012.
The main event saw UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones close the book on his beef with Rashad Evans, once and for all, as he elbowed, kicked and even shouldered his way to victory with a dominant unanimous decision win in the main event of the evening.
The UFC 145 fight card also saw a pair of young phenoms, Michael McDonald and Rory MacDonald, display their progress as MMA fighters who should now undoubtedly be viewed as top contenders in their respective divisions. Veteran fighters also redeemed themselves from past shortcomings, while others all but sealed the deal on their departure from glory.
After the jump, we'll take a look at who emerged as the big winners and lowliest of losers from UFC 145: "Jones vs. Evans:"
Jon Jones -- Obviously, "Bones" has to be considered the weekend's biggest winner. Though he was unable to finish "Suga," fans need to remember just how tough a fighter he really is. And though Jones couldn't finish him, this was yet another fight that was never in doubt. It wasn't close, and if you say it was, you need to go back and watch it again.
Rory MacDonald -- He's 22, but he looks like he's been doing this forever. His opponent, Che Mills, is not tomato can, to say the least. With that said, "Rory Mac" ran all over him. After getting clipped early on, MacDonald made a concerted effort to get the fight to the ground, and he did so easily. It was a cakewalk from there on out, as he was able to carve up his face with dastardly elbows that had everyone in the crowd cringing. Mills' nickname was "Beautiful," coming into the fight. It'll be a while before he's able to wear that moniker proudly (and appropriately) again.
Ben Rothwell -- What a "get back on the map" win this was for "Big Ben." After switching camps and getting his physical conditioning in order, Rothwell was able to totally re-create himself. I gotta tell ya, "Rothwell 2.0" is a pretty scary sight to behold. He's in shape, which is bad news for the rest of the heavyweight division. His striking was always comparable to anyone at 265-pounds. Now that he's regained his focus, it will be very interesting to see where this all takes him.
Michael McDonald -- It was a big night for "Mayday," who made easy work with a first-round KO over former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) Bantamweight Champion Miguel Torres. The win makes it eight in a row now for McDonald who is really taking the MMA world by storm. Where is his ceiling? It's still hard to say, exactly, but it is going to be fun to find out.
Travis Browne -- After his win over UFC newcomer Chad Griggs, Browne went over to the camera and mouthed the words: "A submission? Are you kidding me? A submission?" That's what a lot of people were thinking. Browne showed his game is progressing, as he's always been someone who can stand and trade, but an evolved ground game would really help him move up the heavyweight ranks.
Mac Danzig -- I personally thought Danzig looked fantastic in his fight against Efrain Escudero. His stand up was so crisp and precise that Escudero simply could not keep up with him. It went to a decision, but don't get it twisted: this fight was extremely one-sided. I'm not sure what this says about Danzig, in the big scheme of things, but he looked much improved.
Mark Bocek -- Ok, so, it wasn't a finish and there were spots where his fight versus John Alessio looked like it could have gone either way. Regardless, Bocek fought a very smart fight and used his always phenomenal jiu-jitsu to control his opponent and get a respectable win. The victory makes it two in a row now for Bocek, who will leave this weekend with a bit of momentum.
Rashad Evans -- I hate to pile on, but let's call it what it is. For months now, Evans has been trash talking, name calling and genuinely disrespecting Jon Jones both as a person and a champion. For five rounds, he did very little to back any of his big talk up. He was outmaneuvered in every aspect of the game. He didn't take his belt. He didn't knock him out. He didn't even get close to any of what he said he'd do. I feel a little bad for the guy, but he did this to himself.
Miguel Torres -- Let's get down to brass tacks: He looked awful against McDonald. I hate to say it, because Torres used to be such a fun fighter to watch, but the truth is that his career is winding down. He's a gatekeeper at best. The last time he beat someone we cared about was when he won a decision over Takeya Mizugaki in 2009. Unfortunately, he's more well-known for his ill-advised tweets, as well as his even more ill-advised haircut, than he is for his fighting prowess. Was that mean? It feels mean. Sometimes, the truth is mean.
Stephen Thompson -- I'll go on the record as saying I still love "Wonderboy." He's got a great upside, but his loss to Matt Brown exposed what may be the worst takedown defense in the history of the sport. He's still got time. He's young and still somewhat new to MMA, but those takedowns were slow and deliberate. I don't really have anything else to say on the matter. I'm not mad, just disappointed.
Maximo Blanco -- I used to love watching this guy fight in Japan. He was a stud, but I'm starting to think that's not ever going to translate to American cagefighting. He looked bad against Pat Healy in his fight before this one. He looked bad against Marcus Brimage. It's almost like someone stole his exlosiveness, and he hasn't been able to find it. He better find it quick, because another performance like this last one, and he won't be fighting on the Facebook prelims...he'll be watching them at home.
Fernando Yamasaki -- I really don't like this guy. For starters, he looks like "Bizarro Mario Yamasaki." It makes me feel like I'm in a weird alternate universe every time they announce him. Second, when they do announce him, he does that dumb "wings" motion with his hands. I'm about to watch two dudes beat the crap out of each other. I don't want to see you making shadow puppets. Lastly, he is one of an ever-growing number of referees who clearly doesn't understand MMA. He called for several stand ups in spots where the fighters were clearly active and working to progress. He should be suspended and forced to hang out with Kim Winslow for one full week. I'm tough, but I'm fair.
That's my list. Is it perfect? Probably not, but I always enjoy seeing how you Maniacs fill in the blanks in the comment section below. Don't disappoint me this time!