UFC 145 predictions
Jake Cochran, Columnist
April 21, 2012
Filed under Beacon Blogs
For weeks UFC 145 has been hyped as, “the most bitter rivalry in UFC history.”
It’s probably an overstatement, but don’t expect it to be a reunion of old friends.
Tonight is the long awaited Light Heavyweight Title bout between the current and youngest ever UFC Champion, Jon ‘Bones’ Jones and the former UFC Champion Rashad Evans.
The reason this bout has been so long awaited is because of injuries. Injuries made this exact scenario possible and are mostly to blame for building this rivalry.
The best way to understand this rivalry is to go back to February of last year, at UFC 126 to young up-and-coming prospects to the Light Heavyweight division were set to square off, Undefeated Season 8 Ultimate Fighter Winner Ryan Bader and Former JUNCO National Wrestling Champion Jon Jones, there was heavy speculation this match up would show who would be the dominant force for the coming years in Light Heavyweight.
Throughout the match Jones showed his extreme size and reach advantage by rag dolling the former D-1 Wrestler all over the cage for the first round and then showed his complete dominance by landing a rare modified Guillotine Choke to secure the early second round victory.
However, during the post fight interview is when this things really got rolling.
Joe Rogan told Jones his victory awarded him a title shot against Shogun Rua at UFC 128 because Jones’s teammate Evans had to back out of the fight with a knee injury.
During this time there was great speculation as to what would happen if Jones would win the title and fight his teammate, something that many fighters would never do.
Or would Evans move down in weight and try his luck at Middleweight?
The jury was out and many outlets were more worried with the task at had, the former PRIDE Middleweight Champion Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua.
Clearly when UFC 128 came around, Jones had not looked past the task at hand, because he easily dispatched the current champion and started his title reign. But once Jones had the belt around his waist and began his post fight interview, Evans told Jones he was wearing his belt and he demanded to be the next person to fight Jones.
Jones was visibly shocked and angered, thus sparking the rivalry. But during this time, Jones injured his hand and elbow and asked their August fight date be pushed back to September to give him time to recover, Evans said that was simply too long for him to wait as he was already off for almost a year before he had to back out of the Shogun fight.
So Evans took a fight against Tito Ortiz, who recently just upset Ryan Bader weeks before and looked like his career was given new life. Tito showed heart throughout the fight but was eventually finished in the second round and Evans again campaigned for his title shot.
But at the time, Jones had already had a fight with Rampage Jackson scheduled for September and was not about to pull out of that fight.
So after Jones defeated Rampage it was expected Evans was likely the next in line for the title shot, but he was recovering from hand surgery after the Tito fight.
So at UFC 140 everything was set to go down, Jones and Evans were set to face off for the championship and Lyoto Machida and Phil Davis were set for the main event. But then Evans was not recovering on schedule for the fight, so he had to back out of the title fight, andDavishad to back out of the fight because of a knee injury. Leaving the former champion who is the only man to beat Evans, Lyoto Machida, to fight Jones for the title.
At UFC 140 Lyoto Machida took the first round from Jones by frustrating him with his elusive counter striking and unorthodox movements. Things were not looking good for the young champ. But once the second round started, Jones seemed to have found his range and after a combination of strikes he locked on what would become an iconic guillotine that left his opponent lifeless on the mat. Jones had defended his title successfully.
At the post fight press conference Jones expressed his concern that he would like to take sometime off to have time to spend with his family after a whirlwind year made him ‘Fighter of the Year’ in almost all mainstream MMA Media outlets. The president of the UFC, Dana White, agreed he had earned some time off and said Jones would likely fight probably six months from then, so they expected an early summer return for the champ.
This left Evans without an opponent yet again, so Evans agreed to fight the former NCAA D-1 National Champion fromPennState, Phil Davis, another up can coming prospect to the division many people were calling “Jon Jones with better wrestling.”
So Evans and ‘Mr. Wonderful’ were set to fight in January on FOX as the headliner of a stacked card with title implications all around. Basically, whoever won the fight was likely to be the next to face Jones. For Evans, this would be a good warm up fight. Phil Davis was very comparable to Jones in his build and ability to control his opponents.
When that night came around it was clear that Evans was the better fighter. Phil’s youth and inexperience was exploited. Evans showed National Championships do not always transition so easily to MMA when your opponent has years of experience.
So once the night was over, the stage was set for Jones versus Evans at UFC 145. The two have been fueling a trash talking war. Evans called Jones a ‘swagger jacker’ for the way he copies his style of dress and even the way he enters the cage. Jones continually called Evans delusional when Evans claimed he used to hold Jones down in practice and Jones would have to beg him to let him get back to his feet.
Tonight will be the culmination of all the talk and anticipation it while surely be a fight that will define both of the fighters careers, however I believe Jones will finally get to put this rivalry behind him with a resounding victory in a later round, but if Jones buys into his own hype Evans has the skills to make himself the champion once again.