UFC 145 is behind us and Jon Jones is still the UFC Light Heavyweight champion, having defeated Rashad Evans with relative ease. And he did so entirely on the strength of his stand-up. What we saw from Jon Jones Saturday night was a masterful performance of offensive striking. That offense came from his ability to both use sound fundamentals and creativity. Here's a quick look at just two of the best tools he used to outstrike Evans.
First up, Jones focused on fundamentals with his jab. Not since Georges St. Pierre vs. Josh Koscheck have we seen such an effective use of the jab in a fight. Jones has always been a fan of the jab (a wise choice as it accentuates his reach advantage), but against Evans he used it even more that in previous bouts. Jones was constantly bringing that jab out, and not just pawing with it, but snapping it for power. He also brought his hand back to position quickly after each jab instead of leaving it out of position - a bad habit that I noted in my breakdown of his striking, but one that he has obviously worked to improve. Behind that jab, Jones was able to land on Rashad, while keeping Evans uncomfortably outside of range.
To add to this jab, Jones used a bit of the creativity he is known for. No where was that more evident than in his use of traditional Muay Thai elbows in the 2nd round. Jones staggered Evans with an elbow early that round, then kept the focus on his elbows for the duration of the round. But instead of just throwing elbows, he used the Muay Thai technique of grabbing his opponent's hands and pushing them aside. This created openings and gave him the perfect range to sneak those elbows in. It's a beautiful technique that Jones imported perfectly from Muay Thai, and one we'll be discussing more later this week.
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With this combination of new strikes and the basic jab, Jones took apart Rashad Evans, one of the best Light Heavyweight fighters in the world. The question now is, can any Light Heavyweight fighters defeat Jones on the feet? Given what we saw last night, I'm not sure they can.