UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Jon Jones, takes on former friend Rashad Evans at this weekends UFC 145 event in Atlanta. The two fighters have a serious distaste for each other and now the city of Atlanta is in for one hell of a treat.
Jon ‘Bones’ Jones
Betting Line: -450
His Story: Jones comes in to this fight coming off what most observers of the MMA world would consider the toughest string of title defenses any LHW champion has ever had. Not only did he win every one of those battles but he completely dominated his opponents. Many people already consider him to be the second best pound for pound fighter in the world, and a victory over Rashad Evans this weekend will really give him a push against current pound for pound king Anderson Silva. However, Rashad Evans is not a fight that should be taken lightly.
Keys to Winning: Out of 10 career UFC fights Jon Jones has rarely shown us any weaknesses. In fact the only time I saw him not look amazing was in the first round of his title defense against Lyoto Machida. The Dragon played a smart counter game in the 1st round before Jones took control and submitted him in the 2nd round. If Jones comes out and attacks, I am not sure Rashad will be able to handle the size and strength of Bones. A lot of their skills cancel each others out but Jones will always be the bigger man.
“Sugar” Rashad Evans
Pro Record: 17-1-1 MMA, 12-1-1 UFC
Betting Line: +325
His Story: Sugar Rashad comes in to this fight thirsty for a victory. He is not just fighting for the UFC LHW title, but he is also fighting for his pride. Rashad believes that Jones’ title should be his and he does have an actual case here. Jon Jones and Rashad Evans are former friends and sparring partners at Greg Jacksons’ school. Early last year, Rashad, had to pull out of a scheduled title fight against former champion Shogun Rua. Bones was given the opportunity to replace him and won. Immediately after the win, Rashad entered the octagon and you could see the friendship end live on PPV. Since then Rashad has claimed Jones is ducking him, when in fact injuries to both fighters have prevented this fight from happening sooner.
Keys to Winning: Rashad, like Jones, does not have many weaknesses. As I mentioned above, size, is going to be one of the biggest factors in this fight. Normally I would give Rashad the speed advantage but Jones is a freak and should easily match it. The good news here is that Rashad has fought the bigger fighters before and he has always come out on top. If he can dig real deep and put Jones on his back, Rashad can win this fight. He has to take him down and beat him up just like he claimed he did in practice during their training days together.
Prediction: I have gone back and forth on this decision multiple times, but I have to go with Jon Jones here. Rashad has a few advantages that no other opponent of Jones has had before but I do not think it will be enough to take out the current champion. I will not be completely surprised if he pulls off a victory but once again I just do not think he will be able to hang for the entire 5 round fight. Jon Jones by Decision.
Article by Joe Santeusanio
Follow me @Santeusanio on Twitter.