Photo by Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
In the main event at UFC 145, Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones successfully defended his title against former champion Rashad Evans. Jones took the fight via unanimous decision, with scores of 50-45, 49-46, and 49-46. This was the 3rd successful title defense for Jones and brought his record up to 16-1 overall. Evans loses for just the 2nd time in his career here, dropping to 17-2-1.
After all the pre-fight hype, there was a definite danger of this fight disappointing, and to many fans, that's exactly what happened. Rather than engage in a fast-paced shootout, both Jones and Evans approached the fight from a very strategic standpoint. While Evans had some success standing, Jones was able to use his jab and elbows to pick him apart over 5 rounds. It may not have been the flashiest version of Jon Jones, but it was one of the most dominant performances we've seen from the young champion.
What was the high spot of this fight?
Those elbows Jones used in round 2 were brutal. I loved his technique of using Rashad's hands to gauge distance and create openings. High-level stuff there.
Where do these guys go from here?
For Jones, the next fight is set - he'll face former Pride and Strikeforce champion Dan Henderson in his next title defense. That will be an interesting test as Jones faces Henderson's veteran smarts, and his bomb of a KO punch.
For Evans, it's harder to say. He's been chasing Jones for so long that it feels weird to think about him doing much else. I'd say he has two options - test up and comers, or face other highly ranked fighters in superfights. For the first option, I'd pair him with Ryan Bader, for the second, Mauricio Rua. I'd rather see the Shogun fight myself.
Watch it now, later or never?
Now. Setting aside the expectations, this was a great technical battle that showed Jones's continued evolution. He's a must watch fighter, and this was no exception.
More Bloody Elbow coverage of UFC 145: Jones vs. Evans in the full entry.