Generally MMA bouts are just a sporting contest and that is it. There is rare occasions where the fight has other "Storylines". The mixed martial arts community has not witnessed so much hatred and animosity leading up to a fight since Chuck Liddell vs Tito Ortiz II at UFC 66, December 30, 2006.
UFC 145 which takes place April 21st, 2012, from the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia main event is more than just a UFC Light Heavyweight title fight. The competitors; Champion Jonny "Bones" Jones and the challenger, former UFC Light Heavyweight champion "Suga" Rashad Evans, were former friends, confidants and training partners. That relationship seemed to sour right around the time Jones fought Ryan Bader at UFC 126. For people that were in Vegas, there was a buzz going around that Evans got hurt in training for his UFC 128 title bout. Another rumor also going around was if Jones won against Bader the UFC would give him his teammates (Evans) slot to fight for the title six weeks later at UFC 128 against then champion Maurcio "Shogun" Rua. The day of the fight we here at MMACAGECHATTER ran into Evans who was noticeably limping bad, and was walking in the middle of eight men to hide this injury. When we asked Evans what was wrong he said it was a minor injury. Being one who has had knee injuries before this was not a "Minor" injury to me. Jones went on to decisively beat Bader at UFC 126. In his post fight interview with Jones, UFC commentator Joe Rogan, confirmed the worst kept secret in MMA. Rogan said to Jones, as you know teammate Rashad Evans is scheduled to face Shogun Rua for the UFC Light Heavyweight title in six weeks at UFC 128, however Rashad is hurt and can not compete and the UFC is now wanting to give you that title shot. Jones who genuinely looked surprised, said lets do this. After receiving Rashad's blessing Jones signed the bout agreement for the title shot at UFC 128.
A few days removed from his bout with Bader, Jones sat down with MMA reporter Ariel Helwani and Helwani asked Jones "What he planned on doing if UFC president Dana White asked him to fight Evans?" Jones response was "It's Dana's world when you're a UFC fighter and we live in it," Jones said. "So, I respect Dana a lot, and if that's what he absolutely wanted to happen, I guess that's what would have to happen. Me or Rashad would not want to get fired over the situation. It would just be majorly awkward for us. Rashad and I have a lot in common: we're both young, African-American men with families. We both like to sing, have fun. We're both elite MMA fighters. We have a lot in common, and we both really clicked really well. There's just so many other great fighters in the world that we could compete against. And you know, we're not animals. We're friends, we're human beings. I would hate to have to fight my own teammate. I would never want to." (To view the Ariel Helwani Interview with Jones click on this colored link)
Evans pointed to this comment as the beginning of the end for his friendship and working relationship with Jones. Evans was also quoted saying “But so what, say he did that interview or whatever, people say things during interviews. But at that point, if he’d have shot me a text and said, ‘Listen, bro, this is what was said. This is what I meant by the whole thing,’ it would have been all good. I never would have fought Jon.”
After this moment the war of words between the two and more specifically with Evans heated up in the media. Evans went on to say some pretty honest things about Jones, their relationship and Jacksons MMA.
Jones went on to defeat Rua at UFC 128 to become the UFC's youngest fighter to win a UFC championship (23 Years, 242 days). Jones was scheduled to end the rivalry with Evans and make his first title defense August 6, 2011 at UFC 133. A re-occurring hand injury forced the champion out of the bout. The initial diagnosis was that Jones needed surgery, and that would keep him out of action until late 2011. Jones's withdrawal lead Evans to berate him in the media. Upon news breaking that Jones withdrew, Evans said things in the media like, Jones does not want to fight me, Jones is scared of me and Jones knows I can beat him. Jones went on the defensive saying that these are not his doctors giving him this advice but UFC doctors hired and paid by the UFC. This war of words even prompted UFC president Dana White to chime in validating the Champion Jones claim. Jones, after consulting with doctors again opted for rest and rehabilitation instead of surgery for his hand, after he was convinced that the injury was not as bad as initially thought. Evans would still end up fighting on the UFC 133 card defeating another former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion in Tito Ortiz. Evans defeated Ortiz by technical knock out in the second round. Jones after taking some time off would go on to make his first two title defenses of his UFC Light Heavyweight Championship against Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida. Jones defeated Rampage at UFC 135 (09.24.11) in the fourth round via rear naked choke and defeated Machida at UFC 140 (12.10.11) in the second round via standing guillotine choke. Evans would go on to fight Phil Davis at UFC on FOX 2 (01.28.12) in a UFC Light Heavyweight Title Eliminator fight. In that fight Evans did enough to win and not get hurt to ensure he gets his long awaited title shot. Evans beat Davis by unanimous decision.
Rashad Evans +375
(Champion) Jon Jones -550
Champion Jon "Bones" Jones has a professional Mixed Martial Arts record of 15-1. His one loss "technically" was against Matt Hamill. In a bout where Jones was thoroughly dominating Hamill, the disqualification came because of illegal 12-6 elbow strikes. Of his 15 wins Jones has won via KO/TKO 8 times, submission 5 times, and only has gone to a decision twice. Jones two decision wins came in his first two UFC bouts against Andre Gusmao (UFC debut, UFC 87), and Stephan Bonnar (UFC 94). Jones who boasts a UFC best 84.5 inch reach and usually holds a double digit reach advantage against his opponents is a vicious and tactical striker. His striking ability and reach is in his opponents head come fight night, which causes them to over think it. This also causes his opponents to forget about the underrated submission game the champion possesses. In his last 8 fights, 4 have come from submission. Those submission wins came against Machida, Jackson, Bader, and Jake O'Brien.
The challenger "Suga" Rashad Evans is a former UFC Light Heavyweight champion, and Ultimate Fighter winner. Evans has a professional MMA record of 17-1-1, in some outlets Evans has as many as 22 wins because the UFC recognises 2 amateur wins in the Dangerzone Promotion and The Ultimate Fighter Season 2 show. In fights that is officially or not officially recognised, Evans has won by KO/TKO 7 times, submission (due to strikes) twice and by decision 9 times. Evans also has one draw (Ortiz, UFC 73, 07.07.07). His one loss came against Machida at UFC 98 by KO in round 2. Evans was viciously finished in this bout. Evans is a grinding, smart fighter with a huge right hand that is always in the discussion as one of the best pound for pound fighters in MMA.
As much as this bout is hyped, its going to end decisively and the way the odds makers are predicting. Jones and Evans have not trained in over a year together. Much can change in that time frame. Jones is quickly establishing himself to be in the same category as Anderson Silva, the UFC's Middleweight champion. A once in a lifetime athlete in the sport. Much like Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky were to their respective sports. The first round will open with the champion doing something unorthodox which will set the tone for the fight. Evans will try to get inside the champion's range using his speed and quick foot work, looking to land his big right hand. The champion will be ready for this and look to keep the fight standing and not in a grappling match. Jones will continue to pick Evans apart on the outside with his crisp Muay Thai skills and reach advantage. Jones will be patient until the moment presents itself for the champion to pounce on the challenger like the lion does on a wounded animal, when he is looking for dinner. Jones, like Machida did will use elusiveness and catch Evans coming in with a knee or straight right to wobble the challenger, and pounce to lock in a choke to end the fight and defend his belt for the third consecutive time.
WINNER AND STILL UFC LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION: JONNY "BONES" JONES, THIRD ROUND, GUILLOTINE CHOKE
(UFC 145 extended preview)
(Jon Jones: Believe Your Eyes Commercial)
(Rashad Evans clears the air on Jones)
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