Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) staged perhaps the most anticipated main event fight in recent memory last night (Sat., April 21, 2012) from the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.
Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones and Rashad Evans ripped the script from "Rocky 5," with "Suga" playing the role of veteran Rocky Balboa and "Bones" serving as the modern-day, real-life upstart Tommy Gunn, who sauntered onto the Jackson Winkeljohn MMA scene with all the best intentions, but "business" soon got in the way and the pair became enemies quicker than they forged a friendship.
The only thing missing in this real-life saga was the dramatic Hollywood ending.
As expected, at least as far as the oddsmakers are concerned, Jones retained his 205-pound title; however, he had to go the full 25-minute distance for the first time ever in his mixed martial arts (MMA) career to get it done. But, he didn't really have to put in too much of an effort because Evans, for the most part, let him play his dominant game.
That's right, Evans opted to keep the fight standing, which is where he had one Hail Mary right hand opportunity to win. He didn't close the distance, shoot for takedowns our beat up "Bones" along the cage with dirty boxing. On the contrary, he circled for essentially the entire fight, trying to avoid the Matrix-esque attack of his former training partner, while hoping to connect with one big, fight-ending shot.
Wing and a prayer, Maniacs. Unsurprisingly, it never came. And neither did the decisive finish, or back-and-forth emotional battle, which most fans had hoped would ensue heading into the showdown. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a snoozefest or a complete dud. It was just puzzling to see Evans -- who claimed he knew "Bones" inside-out -- implement a tired gameplan that we all know won't work.
Perhaps Dan Henderson can show Evans, Quinton Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Mauricio Rua and the rest of the division how to solve the Jones enigma. He's fighting him next apparenty. And it will go a long way toward determining if Jones is really just so good that he makes great fighters look bad, or if he truly does have a weakness.
If he does, I have yet to see it. Swagga ...
Rory MacDonald, the heir apparent to 170-pound champion Georges St. Pierre, was featured in the co main event opposite Che Mills, a guy who could not advance beyond the elimination round in a recent season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF). Mills ultimately lost to that season's winner James Wilks, and even went on to win his next five MMA bouts, but he had no business being locked inside a cage with "Ares."
Mills cames out strong and actually landed a nice clean shot along the cage; however, all it did was piss off MacDonald and make him realize that he was in a fight. And fight he did. MacDonald smashed Mills for the remaining 1.5 rounds, getting him in crucifix, taking his back, boxing his ears, threatening with submissions and basically doing whatever the hell he wanted.
In the end, Mills was far from "Beautiful."
Even though it was dreadful to hear ringside announcers Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg sing MacDonald's praises all night, the 22-year-old has unquestionable talent and skill. He's also got a violent mean streak, unleashing strikes with bad intentions that look (and sound) like they hurt.
The only problem with last night's fight is that MacDonald proved he should only be involved in fights with other top contenders in the division. To be perfectly honest, his next fight should be a rematch against interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit, regardless of whether or not "The Natural Born Killer" wants to wait until the end of the year to fight "Rush."
It's a fight the fans will want to see, even if it sets up a Georges St. Pierre vs. Rory MacDonald nightmare scenario. That's good for business -- just ask Jones and Evans.
In the only Heavyweight bout on the pay-per-view (PPV) main card, Brendan Schaub vs. Ben Rothwell, was a showdown that most didn't expect to go the distance. Both men are big stand up fighters who prefer to sling leather until someone falls down.
And that's exactly what they did.
However, few likely expected it to last just 70 seconds, which was the official time once "Big Ben" connected with a powerful punch while in close. Schaub actually landed a nice spinning elbow that stunned Rothwell, but in his zeal to poor it on thick, he got clipped bad.
So bad, in fact, that he was soon on his back, knocked silly with his arms involuntarily clawing toward the rafters. It was a sad sight for a fighter who was once considered among the brightest prospects in the division. With two straight knockout losses, however, he'll have to get in the very back of the line.
In such an unforgiving sport, the smallest mistakes can have such massive repercussions.
Miguel Torres knows all about that.
Once regarded as perhaps the best pound-for-pound MMA fighter in the world not too long ago, Torres was trying to climb back up to the top of the Bantamweight ladder when he took on Michael McDonald, who is 10 years his junior. He was the wiser, more experienced former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) champion who was relying on a new training team, as well as fight approach, to earn him another opportunity to contend for a world title.
Not gonna happen. Not after last night, anyway.
"Mayday," who called Torres' new, more cautious approach to fighting as "horrible," connected with a powerful uppercut in the first round that had him out cold before the back of his head hit the canvas. Just in case that wasn't enough, McDonald was able to land two more unobstructed clean shots to the unconscious "Angel" before the referee could stop him.
McDonald was overjoyed with the sensational finish, as he should be, because Torres -- based on he previous track record and recent success -- was knocking on the door of a title shot. Now with four consecutive victories of his own inside the Octagon, don't be surprised to see McDonald next in another high-profile, meaningful fight.
He's earned it.
In other action, former number one Featherweight contender Mark Hominick attempted to steer himself out of a two-fight losing skid against Eddie Yagin, who was in search of his first UFC win ever. It was the boxer taking on the brawler, which, if nothing else, is a fun fight to watch.
Hominick, who was looking to rebound from a freak seven-second knockout loss to Chan-Sung Jung his last time out, did what he normally does, dancing, darting and dishing out tight strikes. Yagin, meanwhile, responded with looping, loud and large bombs that you could see coming from a mile away.
Well, all but two of them apparently.
Yagin dropped Hominick twice with two huge shots in separate rounds, hurting the resilient Canadian, but not enough to seal the deal. On the contrary, each time Hominick rose back to his feet and eventually picked up right where he left off with his robotic-like attack.
In the end, both fighters looked like hell. Hominick's eyes were swollen shut and Yagin's nose was busted bad. Blood coated them, as well as the canvas, after their 15-minute brawl expired. And because it was just that, a brawl, the judges sided with Yagin, awarding him the split decision.
Fair or foul? I say fun.
It's been nearly 12 years since John Alessio made his Octagon debut against Pat Miletich in a losing effort (submission) at the turn of the century. The Canadian has had two other opportunities to pick up a win inside the eight-walled cage since that time, but has come up short each time out.
Bocek, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace, controlled a majority of the fight once he was able to get it to the ground, which was more often than not. Alessio attempted to keep the fight standing, where his best chance to win existed, but it just wasn't enough. Bocek would eat a few good shots and then eventually get a takedown, threaten with submissions and coast to a unanimous decision win on the judge scorecards.
It certainly wasn't the prettiest fight, but it was certainly an effective strategy. A strategy that has earned him back-to-back wins and three victories in his last four appearances. His lone loss during that span? None other than division champion Ben Henderson.
Not too shabby.
That's enough from us. Now it's your turn to discuss UFC 145: "Jones vs. Evans" in the comments section below.
What was Evans thinking? Is Henderson the man to defeat Jones? If not Condit, who should MacDonald fight next? Impressed by the new and improved Rothwell? How about those two first round knockouts!?!? Let's hear it, Maniacs.
Be sure to also check out our complete UFC 145 blow-by-blow coverage of the entire "Jones vs. Evans" event right here. Last, and certainly not least, check out our complete UFC 145 results recap of the Facebook/FX "Prelims" right here.