UFC 145: Matching the Hype
Atlanta, April 22 – The sell-out crowd were ready to witness this huge fight between champion and former friend on Saturday night in Atlanta, the atmosphere was electric. Everyone just wanted the main event to start.
Jon “Bones” Jones the UFC Light Heavyweight champion, had to put his title on the line against “Suga” Rashad Evans.
As both fighters made their way to the ring, the first question on everyone lips was, would the champion continue with his now trademark ring entrance, crouching down when entering the Octagon, a trait that the challenger expressed had been copied by the younger champion Jones.
It was clear for all the fans to see, both made the same entrance, both crouching and both fighters would start the fight in exactly the same way. Many believe that Jones was copying the older challenger and this may be the reason why “Bones” may have implemented a religious move by drawing the imaginary cross on his chest.
Could something so minor have any affect on the fight, we would find out. Herb Dean, the referee in charge of this MMA superfight called both fighters to the center of the stage to give them their last minute instructions.
The champion held his hands up for Rashad to tap before Herb sent them back to their corners. Would the challenger touch gloves, the mark of respect that is giving by so many a fighter before the fight takes place?
Well it appeared if “Suga” wasnt going to touch them up. But, at the last minute he changed his mind and respectfully touched the champions hands, first point to Jones. The stage may be too big for Rashad who appeared to be faltering in front of the new champion “Bones”.
We would all have our questions answered now, the first bell sounded. Immediately Jones took the center of the ring, Rashad trying to keep at a safe distance because of the champion’s far superior reach, would “Suga” go for the takedown or get the champion in the clinch.
The champion started by displaying some of his trademark kicks, his left jab and mixing up his bizarre combinations. He was trying to gain a feel of the situation and feeling out his opponent, the first round was going nicely for “Bones” keeping the challenger at bay.
However, with 30 secs left in round 1, Rashad landed a vicious headkick which came from nowhere, it seemed to stun Jones for a moment. Could this be a momentum shifter, working in Rashad’s favour? it wasn’t because there were only 15 secs left in the opening round and Evans wouldn’t be able to capitalise.
Jon’s trainer and cornerman was Greg Jackson, he sat the champ down on the stool and started to deliver instructions to the champ. “Jon, relax” were the words while he sat with his coaches. They started to calmly explain where Jones had gone wrong. “You got to stay alert to the head kicks,” said Jackson. “Enjoy the occasion. Start throwing more high kicks Jon.”
Had the momentum switched to Evans, this was answered quickly as Jones took to the center of the Octagon. Both fighters looked in control of their own destinies at this stage.
However, the unpredictability of Jones and his new unorthodox striking would have Evans in trouble soon, the challenger unable to see where the punches were coming from as the champion started to throw some devastatingly destructive elbows, elbows that the fans and challenger weren’t able to see, putting the younger champion, well and truly in control of this contest.
Each time Jones landed an elbow it unsettled the challenger, so much so that towards the end of the second round, “Bones” was stunning Evans at will, the challenger didn’t appear to have any way of answering Jones’ power striking.
The momentum had switched into the champion’s favour and would not switch again.
As the fight moved into the third round, the look of disbelief started to be seen in Evans, so much so, he went for his first takedown in the contest. This proved unsuccessful and the champion then continued to deliver the huge elbows by using his reach advantage, then throwing disguised straight leg kicks which he then turned into round house kicks in the last moment.
Evans wasn’t able to see any off the strikes at this stage; the only saviour was Suga’s incredible movement which he was still displaying. Evans had run out of ideas. Would Jones finish him in the championship rounds?
Moving into the fourth round, Evans went for his second takedown attempt which the champion stopped easily. Never before had Evans struggled so much to take the fight to the matt but this time, the champion clearly had the challenger’s number and kept the fight on their feet.
As round drew to a close, both men appeared to take their foot off the gas to gain composure, trying to restore some of the energy lost in the first three rounds, could it be that both men wanted to save their energy and go for a stoppage in the 5th and final round?
It was clear for all to see, Evans had to knockout or submit the younger champ if he wanted to take the belt back as Jones had easily won the four previous rounds in this contest. The champ had been busier, controlled the centre of the octagon and had hurt Evans with his aloof and unorthodox striking.
The sold out crowed were on their feet as the Herb Dean said “5th and final round, let’s get it on!” Could Evans pull something out the bag and obtain a stoppage, or would Jones take the fight to the ground and finish the challenger with a “ground-n-pound”? Well neither.
Evans went for a clinch early but this was unsuccessful, Jones continued to move well and throw, what many may see as reckless combinations. However, the insiders of the sport would appreciate how unique and mystifying these unseen combinations are.
The fight was going to go the distance. However, with 20 secs left the champion did something bizarre. He pulled guard from a ridiculous position and took the fight to the matt. Rashad had been taunting the champ in pre-fight conferences and it was as if the champion wanted the final say by taunting “Suga” for something the challenger had said. Rashad claimed that he took Jones to the ground when they trained together and made Jones cry.
Champ pulling guard suggests that Rashad’s claim was completely untrue. Reason for this is Jones took the fight where he wanted and did exactly what he wanted. Did Jones want to taunt the challenger who had tried to belittle Jones before the fight? What better way to silence your biggest critic who happened to be your opponent.
At the end of this contest it was clear that only one man had won and that was the champion. The judges scoring the contest 49-46, 49-46 and 50-45 – all in favour of Jones.
What is next for the champ? He is expected to face the former Pride and Strikeforce champion Dan Henderson in his next title defence. That will be an interesting test as Jones faces Henderson, a veteran, with possibly the biggest punch in the sport.