USCS Fight of the Week: Former Teammates Jon Jones and Rashad Evans Clash at UFC 145
This Saturday night in Atlanta the drama-filled feud between Jon "Bones" Jones and "Suga" Rashard Evans will finally be settled the way men handle problems, with their hands. These two former teammates will meet in the Octagon with the coveted UFC title on the line.
As the fight draw closer, the indecisive guessing of who will be the better man continues by fans. Much like having a favorite football team, fans attach themselves to a fighter supporting them through their careers. Both hailing from New York, which one these empire state fighters will have the upper hand in Saturday night's title match?
Jones wrestled for Union-Endicott, New York, where he won a tough public high school state title his senior year at the 189-pound weight class over all-state Jack Sullivan who eventually went on to wrestle for University of Penn. Jones would wrestle at Iowa Central Community College where he won the 2006 National Junior College Athletic Association championship.
Jones is 10-1 in his UFC career with three title defenses. "Bones" comes into this fight having a 52% success rate on strikes. His takedowns have a 64-percent conversion rate with 21 out of 33 total takedowns finding the mark.
Jones has flashy sweeps, tosses, and trips due to his excellent leverage created by his natural lengthy physique. The unorthodox Jones strikes his opponents from all angles creating difficult combinations that are nearly impossible for his foes to defend.
The 6'4" Jones' submissions should also be a concern for the contender Evans. The champion has finished the last three of four fights by submission. The champ's Jiu jitsu base creates problems for fighters when he locks those long legs and his 84.5-inch reach around an opponent looking to transition from a rear naked choke to an arm bar.
The contender and former UFC champion Evans should be prepared for his toughest task in his career will be in front of him when he enters the Octagon Saturday night. Evans enters this fight with a record of 21-1-1.
The former teammate of Jones enters this fight also with an excellent wrestling background. As a fourth place finisher twice in New York State in high school, Evans went on to wrestle for Niagara County Community College where he won a National Junior College Athletic Association Championship title at 165-pounds. He then transferred to wrestle for the Michigan State Spartans in the Big Ten.
"Suga" enters this fight with a four-fight win streak and plans to keep rolling. His 5'11" frame might seem as a disadvantage against Jones for most, but Evans will have less to protect. Evans last four wins have come over tough opponents including Phil Davis, Thiago Silva, Tito Ortiz, and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson.
The former champ comes into the brawl with only a 40-percent successful striking percentage, but he holds the UFC record for most takedowns by a light heavyweight with 48 out of 90 attempts giving him a 53-percent takedown rate. Evans has a different style of takedowns as he penetrates after a couple of strikes and bull rushes through the opponent double driving his legs. It's a powerful takedown that translates into having the record amount of takedowns for his weight class.
Expect this fight to go all five rounds. Jones will more than likely use his reach to keep Evans away from him knowing that his wrestling leads too much of Evans success. "Suga" will look to work his way inside of Jones using his fast hands, and strong grappling skills.
Stand-up: Advantage Jones
I give the striking advantage to Jones for the reason of his long reach and capability of throwing brutal knees and kicks. Don't count Evans' power and lightning fast hands out though as he has finished seven fights within the UFC.
Grappling: Advantage Evans
Evans is given the advantage for the reason that he has powerful takedowns and will have successful attempts throughout the fight. His ground and pound will throw off Jones normal routine.
Both have strong mat skills, and even though Jones shows brilliant flashes of finishing submissions, Evans also has a Black Belt in Brazilian jiu Jitsu.
I expect the former champ to regain his belt via split decision. Evans' experience will play the biggest factor in this fight. Expect a great show due to the drama and hype but most of all because the ex-teammates know each other's strengths and weaknesses.
Photo courtesy Esther Lin via MMAFighting.com