Lessons learned from UFC 145
At the young age of 24, Jon Jones is already a master of the sport
Rashad Evans’ chances for another title appear to be over
Rory MacDonald put fans on notice with his TKO of Che Mills
ATLANTA -- Five things we learned from UFC 145 and Jon Jones' unanimous decision win over Rashad Evans on Saturday ...
1) There's no denying Jon Jones.
All of the silly doubts about the UFC's youngest champion in history were squashed Saturday. Coming off arguably the best year in UFC history, Jones started his 2012 campaign by demolishing his former training partner Rashad Evans in a fight that went the distance, but was never in question (49-46, 49-46, 50-45).
He proved his chin. He couldn't be taken down. And he unleashed a mind-boggling array of punches, elbows, kicks and knees that damaged his opponent equally. What more can you ask from a fighter? Are you not entertained?
Jones is the class of the MMA and Saturday reaffirmed that statement. Like LeBron James in basketball or Stephen Strasburg in baseball, Jones is a true phenom in his sport. It's as if the sport was created for him. He does things no one before him ever imagined, let alone executed. Even if you know how to stop him -- like, say, a former longtime training partner and confidant -- you're not going to be able to. As of right now, Superman has no kryptonite and Jones' potential knows no bounds.
For the next few years, MMA fans will get the pleasure of watching Jones in his prime, and likely with a newfound level of confidence. If you thought the champ was cocky before, wait until his win over Evans sinks in.
2) Rashad Evans isn't done, but he's no longer at his best.
After the fight, Evans defended himself by saying he's "only 32" and still has a lot of fighting left in him. That might be true, but in a championship fight? Not so much. Prior to Jones, Evans registered victories over Phil Davis and Tito Ortiz over the last eight months -- two decent enough wins, but nothing on Jones' level.
When Evans had his opportunities, he showed he still has a lot of power behind his punches -- but does he have the stamina? He looked exhausted in the fourth and fifth rounds, gripping the cage in an attempt to catch his breath in between bells. Was age the reason for Jones' dominance? Only Evans knows. We'll learn more the next time he fights someone not named Jon Jones.
3) Rory MacDonald is the future.
So this is why Georges St-Pierre has been touting his baby-faced training partner as the next him. MacDonald, the fourth youngest fighter in all of the UFC, earned his third-straight victory by having his way with Che Mills before earning a TKO midway through the second round.
For a 22-year-old with four career UFC fights coming into Saturday's event, the Canadian welterweight showed incredible calm in the octagon. He had a plan, and he executed it. MacDonald had no problem taking Mills to the ground where he unleashed vicious blow after blow. All Mills was able to do was cover up, despite being an accomplished mixed martial artist, which MacDonald acknowledged after the fight.
With wins over Mills, Mike Pyle and Nate Diaz -- MacDonald is proving to have one of the brightest futures of any welterweight in the UFC, if not the brightest. With a training partner like GSP, MacDonald would be wise to do his best sponge impression and soak up as much information as possible over the next few years.
That is, until the training partners become bitter rivals and take part in their inevitable octagon showdown. Maybe we will see MacDonald and GSP square off one day. Or maybe I'm just getting really, really ahead of myself. If we ever did, it would likely be on par with what we just saw at UFC 145.
4) The undercard did not disappoint.
There were more than a few fans booing during the conclusion of Jones-Evans, but you didn't hear much negativity during an action-packed undercard, which featured several stunning finishes.
Travis Brown proved once and for all on the FX card that big trees do fall hard as he finished fellow heavyweight Chad Griggs with a flying knee and arm-triangle submission in the first round. At 6-7, 255 pounds, anything Brown lands is going to be devastating. But when it's a knee to a face, followed by an incredible submission you're really going to feel it.
But he wasn't the only one. Heavyweight Ben Rothwell knocked out Brendan Schaub after it looked like Schaub was the one with the upper hand. Schaub was in the middle of a heavy-handed combination when Rothwell stunned him with a left hook. Schaub came crashing to the ground and Rothwell pounced on him to finish the job in the first round.
In addition, Michael McDonald, the UFC's second youngest fighter (not to be confused with Rory MacDonald), pulled off an incredible knockout of his own by flooring UFC veteran Miguel Angel Torres at 3:18 in the first round. McDonald put Torres to sleep with a breathtaking uppercut that the Blackzillians fighter never saw coming (and likely doesn't remember).
In a night of incredible finishes, it's too bad Jones and Evans couldn't come through in the finale. It likely would have made UFC 145 one of the greatest events in the promotion's history.
5) We don't need a rematch.
It's not that Jones-Evans wasn't entertaining, but what will anyone gain from a sequel? Jones will have plenty of title challengers -- why go against Evans again? What's left to prove?
After the fight Saturday, UFC president Dana White confirmed that Jones will go against multi-time, multi-division champion Dan Henderson in his next fight, a bout much more appealing than an Evans grudge match.
As for Evans, he'll likely face a slew of lesser opponents in an attempt to get a rematch with Jones one day. Evans said he won't rule out a move to middleweight, but would prefer to stay at 205 and work his way up to another title shot. He might want to be careful what he wishes for. Another fight with his former training partner could send the UFC legend into early retirement.