The score was finally settled between former friends and teammates Jon Jones and Rashad Evans last night (April 21, 2012) with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight title on the line in the main event of UFC 145 from Atlanta, Georgia.
Evans was hoping his prior experience working with Jones would give him an advantage, and perhaps his familiarity helped "Suga" take Jones the full five round for the first time in his UFC career.
Jones entered the bout riding a tremendous wave of hype, being hailed as the next big thing and even being sponsored by the UFC clothing brand.
So did he live up to expectations last night in victory? And what happens next to both elite light heavyweights?
Follow me after the jump for our Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans UFC 145 post-fight review and analysis. To watch Jon Jones vs Rashad Evans full fight video highlights from UFC 145 right now click here:
Jones was the aggressor, stalking Evans from the cage center throughout the fight while "Suga" was forced to play the outside game, constantly in danger of being backed into the fence. Despite Evans being in rough positions at times, he kept Jones at bay with his big right hand and some effective (although sloppy) leg kicks.
Evans even landed a pretty solid head kick in the first round, but the tide began to turn after that. Jones went to work, more effectively utilizing his range and unpredictability in the second, actually hurting "Suga" with a beautiful standing elbow which caught him completely off guard.
Jones' elbows were probably his most effective weapon throughout the fight and he didn't even have to spin to connect solidly with them. All he had to do was get relatively close and his lanky arms and technique did the rest.
After the third round, although he wasn't completely gassed, Evans was definitely tired. He had to gut check himself to make it to the end of the fight but in both the fourth and fifth rounds, he was pretty much no threat at all to the champion, Jones, who remained very fresh all the way to the final bell.
The champ was just too big, too strong and too long for Evans, despite the now-Imperial Athletics fighter's best efforts. In the end, Jones would win a unanimous decision taking four rounds on two judges' scorecards and five rounds on the other.
For Rashad Evans, he actually did several things very well. He landed some nice punches whenever Jones got too close on the inside to keep "Bones" at bay and he was pretty effective with his leg kicks whenever he threw them with power. I really liked that he brought back the head kicks for this fight as he actually found a home for them a few times and may have caught Jones off guard a bit. I would have liked to see him commit to his takedown attempts more in the fight, however. I know it would probably have been even more exhausting to attempt them, but it would have been worth it if he could have put Jones on his back or at least made him think a little bit more about what he could do.
Evans gave Jones his toughest test to date so he's not going to be dropping any spots in the rankings in my book. As long as he's still at light heavyweight, I want to see him against the best of the best. I'd love to see Evans face Mauricio Rua next if possible. If not, other options include Antonio Rogerio Nogueira or maybe even a rematch against Machida.
For Jon Jones, this fight further cemented the gap between him and the rest of the light heavyweights in the world. I still believe Evans is the second best at 205 pounds but Jones is just on another planet. He fought conservatively at times, but that's not the end of the world. Do I wish he would have taken a few more risks to try and finish the fight? Of course I do, but that doesn't mean it was the right decision to make. Jones had a ton of respect for Evans' power and he wasn't willing to drop his guard in an attempt to finish the fight. We saw what can happen if you do that twice this weekend with Brendan Schaub and Brian Rogers.
It's already been confirmed that he'll face Dan Henderson next, hoping to defend his title against one of the last legends remaining in the division. Jones was hit a few times pretty solidly by Rashad last night. It'll be interesting to see if he can survive if he eats the dreaded "H-Bomb."
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Did the fight live up to the hype in the end? Could Jon Jones have done more here to get the finish? Is there anyone at 205 who can beat "Bones?"