Jon Jones didn't run through Quinton Jackson like he ran through Brandon Vera and Vladimir Matyushenko and Mauricio Rua. This performance was more measured. He stifled Jackson through the first three rounds before taking him down and calmly working for a rear naked choke in the fourth.
Jones confused Jackson with his reach and distance, the challenger reduced to lunging in for one- and two-punch combinations. Jackson had his moments, his takedown defense looked particularly good considering the ease of Jones to bring down past opposition, but those moments never added up to effective offense.
Whatever questions remained about Jones' abilities -- and, really, only the most ardent Jones hater still questioned Jones' skills in the cage -- dissipated after tonight's performance. He didn't look near as fluid and confident as Anderson Silva -- though Mike Goldberg will try to sell you that narrative, but his demeanor was calm, relaxed, and patient. I won't revert to cliches about looking wise beyond his years, but Jones' fight maturity is more than noticeable when compared to his UFC debut against Andre Gusmao.
It's difficult to imagine Rashad Evans being the man to defeat Jones. As well as he has put together his MMA game, Evans is a small light heavyweight, probably capable of making middleweight if he chose to do so. He'll need to put in a perfect performance -- mixing up strikes, changing levels, getting inside, making Jones react to him instead of the inverse -- to overcome the size, length, and skill of his former stablemate.
- This loss probably ends Quinton Jackson's chances of another UFC title reign. It'll take Jackson two years or so to get back in line for a shot, if everything goes correctly, and that will put him at 35 years of age. He's refused to evolve over the last few years, and there's no reason to expect that to change going forward.
- UFC cameras caught trainers wrapping up both of Jones' feet, and the champion seemed to be nursing his elbow as well. With Evans already dealing with a broken thumb, I don't expect to see the long-awaited grudge match until late spring or early summer.
- Josh Koscheck may have ended the career of Matt Hughes. Despite the narrative woven by Goldberg and Rogan (who were especially awful tonight), Hughes did not threaten Koscheck. Once Koscheck opened up his striking, Hughes crumbled. It's been a brilliant career for Hughes. He talked about the UFC putting him "on a shelf," which I imagine means he has a couple of fights in mind, and he'll retire if the UFC refuses to put them together.
- Midway through Ben Rothwell and Mark Hunt's fight, I heard my buddy flick on his iPhone. I laughed. He laughed. We laughed. Rothwell vs. Hunt and Travis Browne vs. Rob Broughton proved how bad low-level heavyweight MMA is, even at the UFC level. Both fights dragged...and dragged...and dragged. The lone high spot was Hunt working an armbar from mount, sullied by Joe Rogan screaming, "YES! YES! YES!" into his headset.
- So, there's no way that Takanori Gomi trained for this fight, right?
FIGHTER OF THE NIGHT
Photo by UFC.com
Jones flummoxed another elite fighter, even if that elite fighter is past his prime. It'll only take another couple of similar performances until fans clamor for him to jump up to heavyweight.
MOMENT OF THE NIGHT
Photo by UFC.com
We may have seen the last of Matt Hughes in the Octagon, and his interview with Joe Rogan post-fight walked a fine line of emotion. Hughes choked up at times, and he seems resigned to possible retirement if it comes to that.
GOLDBERG LINE OF THE NIGHT
Photo Stephen Martinez for Sherdog.com
"Mark Hunt dominated Fedor Emelianenko for eight minutes."
Probably best to refrain from commenting on fights you've never seen, Mikey.
ENTRANCE SONG OF THE NIGHT
"Higher Ground" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers (Josh Koscheck)
No surprise that this is a cover. Also not a surprise that it's a Stevie Wonder original.
Despite Dana White's assurance that Zuffa needs more fighters, there's no margin for error in the UFC. It only takes one loss to find a pink slip waiting for you on Monday morning. Who's on the Chopping Block?