April 21st, 2012 is a date we should all remember. April 21st is the day we saw Jon Jones completely outclass his greatest challenge, and prove that he already has become the greatest thing his division has ever seen. The fight can be seen as any number of things, from boring to awesome, I'm here to convince you that the latter is true. Perspective counts more in this fight than anything.
Jones put on a fight which showcased many of the great facets of his game. His striking was impeccable. His timing was flawless. He was unpredictable. And he showed these skills against one of the world's elite in Rashad Evans. Rashad Evans, who was "a better wrestler". Rashad Evans, who "outdid Jones in training every time". Rashad Evans, who was "just too quick". You get my point. Jon Jones made doubters and haters alike look stupid tonight.
Now don't get me wrong. I'm not justifying that a horrible fight was good. The fight itself wasn't horrible. It showed two well rounded opponents each pushing each other to a point they never had been pushed to. For Jones, it was the first title fight he couldn't finish. For Rashad, it was the first time he didn't have any significant advantages over his opponent. We saw an array of rarely seen techniques, we saw both fighters get hurt. We saw MMA at its highest level.
Perspective also plays a role. The fight history of both fighters is littered with elite level fighters. Rashad has wins over legends like Tito, Rampage, and Liddel. He also had huge wins over prospects like Phil Davis and Thiago Silva. Jones has shown unprecedented skill in a stacked schedule of opponents. Machida, Rampage, Shogun, and many more have been not only defeated, but finished by this man. Their records alone are awe inspiring. There was not a question that these two are the best fighters in their division. This was a matchup between two of the most elite fighters in the world.
And to see one win with such ease is simply awe inspiring.
You can look at how Rashad did whatever he felt like against Davis. That fight showed that he was on a different level, and that was against a very high level fighter in Davis.
Then you look at what his fight with Jones became. Rashad is always the aggressor. Rashad is always the better wrestler. Tonight, Jones easily gave him an 'access denied' and did whatever the hell he wanted. Rashad's wrestling looked amateurish. His striking looked desperate. All the while, Jones was mixing it up. He was having fun. He threw knees, and elbows, and crazy kicks. He was hitting Rashad with his shoulders, and he was hitting him hard. There's not a doubt in my mind that Jones could've performed some clinch throws on Rashad. He knew he didn't have to take it to the ground to win, and for that matter, he knew he didn't have to finish either. The opportunities presented themselves, but he didn't show the same killer instinct he usually does. Maybe it was general concern for Rashad, or maybe he wanted to test himself in a full five round fight. Maybe it's something we know nothing about. Regardless, when the finish was there, he was fine coasting and showing Rashad that he was better without even pursuing an early end to
their encounter. Rashad knew it, and it was noticeable in every round of the fight. It got worse for him as the fight wore on, but there was nothing he could do. This was brought to light in the closing seconds of the fight, when Jones showed no respect for Rashad and pulled guard. That was the fight right there. Jones was right there, but could Evans do anything about it?
I'm not sure if I'm rambling at this point, but my point is that the luster of this fight lies in the domination of an elite fighter by a fighter that was just.... better.