In one of the most anticipated matches in UFC history, Jon “Bones” Jones scored a clear unanimous decision win over former friend and training partner Rashad Evans in the main event of UFC 145 at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.
The young, talented champion pressed his advantage – including his freakish reach and incredible arsenal of unorthodox moves – and cruised to another title defense in one of the toughest weight classes in the promotion.
The 24-year-old Jones was easily the aggressor early in the fight, landing with knees, kicks and punches. Evans responded well though, sneaking in a significant combination of his own and even a solid head kick. But Jones continued the onslaught, keeping the pressure on the challenger until the bell.
The champion swung the fight heavily in his favor in the second round, when he turned to his elbows, which have the ability to connect at a range like no other MMA fighter’s, rocking Evans with several shots, including one that sent the challenger stumbling. Jones continued to control the fight and finished the second clearly ahead on the scorecards.
Evans bounced back in the third, landing a big overhand right early in the round. But Jones had Evans hurt again with a big kick and just had more volume in his strikes, peppering the challenger with shots from all angles. Evans, an excellent wrestler, attempted his first takedown of the night, but Jones easily shrugged him off.
With the pace slowing in the late rounds, Jones continued to hit Evans with punches and stuffing takedown attempts. He half-attempted a guillotine choke though he quickly let go of the submission. True to his reputation for being an unorthodox striker, Jones even attempted some shoulder strikes, smashing his shoulder into Evans chin in the clinch.
Evans came out in Round Five with some urgency, but Jones was just the superior fighter tonight, landing more blows and even tossing Evans to the ground once. Jones pulled guard on Evans with seconds to go and the fight went the distance though there was little question which fighter won the fight.
Jones absolutely dominated in terms of volume, landing 114 significant strikes to just 48 for Evans. Early in the fight, Jones held a 45 to 32 advantage in significant strikes, but while Jones kept his pace, Evans’ production tallied off considerably in the latter rounds.
It was a fight that was heavily hyped because of the feud between the two fighters. Both were part of the famed Greg Jackson camp in Albaquerque, New Mexico and were training partners when preparing for fights.
The rivalry began when Jones, who replaced an injured Evans for a shot at the UFC title against then-champion Shogun Rua, did an interview where he said he would fight Evans if that’s what the UFC asked of him.
Evans had repeatedly claimed in the past that he would never fight Jones, whom he regarded as a brother, and would sooner change divisions than face him.
The statement by Jones would put a strain on the two teammates that would come to head when Jones defeated Rua to become the youngest champion in UFC history with a soon-to-be-healthy Evans as his number one contender. Evans would soon announce that he was leaving Team Jackson.
Their fight, however, was continually pushed back because of injuries to Jones and Evans whenever it was scheduled. Both were able win fights against other light heavyweights with Evans defeating Tito Ortiz and Phil Davis and Jones successfully defending his title against Rampage Jackson and Lyoto Machida.
The delays allowed for plenty of trash talking between the two in the mainstream media, social media and even official UFC events.
Jones accused his former teammate of being jealous of his success while Evans repeatedly called Jones a “fake”.