UFC 156 served as a lesson for long term planning in the fight game. Two anticipated mega fights that hinged upon a particular set of results were incinerated for the foreseeable future and perhaps, may never materialize. Rashad Evans and Alistair Overeem had one task, to win.
Super Bowl weekend traditionally plays host to one of the biggest UFC events of the year, and this card is no exception. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am for UFC 156. Every fight on the main card could be a main event and is reminiscent of the early Zuffa cards before the sport’s ascension. All of the bouts have important divisional ramifications and it is all topped off by what could end up being the greatest fight in the history of mixed martial arts.
-Joseph Benavidez vs. Ian McCall
It’s takes a clever fighter with the ludicrous speed to dethrone the likes of Joseph Benavidez and Ian McCall. That fighter’s name is Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson. Joseph Benavidez was the odds on favorite to win the Flyweight tournament and was kept guessing and off balance for the entire five round affair. Ian McCall had more hype than anyone, going into the tournament and fought Johnson fought twice due to a judging error in the first bout that was scored a draw and some felt McCall won.
Benavidez brings to the table his explosive wrestling ability along with his power and athleticism. McCall is the more technical fighter who is very crafty and could catch Benavidez going in wild for a takedown or a submission. Both have tremendous cardio and are hungry to get back in the mix as they are the number 2 & 3 contenders in the world. McCall is preoccupied with personal issues outside of the cage in the form of childcare issues and separation from his wife which he feels will lead to a divorce.
McCall is a charismatic individual who could go a long way in the UFC, but he needs to find a way to put his personal issues aside to handle the razor sharp Benavidez. While McCall is dangerous on the ground, Demetrious Johnson was able to take him down pretty easily in their second fight. There will be some close calls in this bout, but Benavidez will have an easier controlling where the bout takes place.
The Pick: Joseph Benavidez by decision
The Ultimate Fighter Live on FX is currently the lowest-rated season in the history of the series. The show has been missing that WOW factor for quite some time. Season 10 back in 2009 featuring Kimbo Slice and the Rampage vs. Evans feud was the last signs of worth wild television the show has produced. Faber and Cruz are two of the best fighters in the world but they do not produce that dynamic you want from opposing coaches in order to pop a rating. Also, the show hasn’t changed its look or presentation since its debut in 2005
UFC 145: Jones vs. Evans
Phillips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia
– Facebook Prelims
Marcus Brimage over Maximo Blanco via split decision
Chris Clements over Keith Wisniewski via split decision
– FX Prelims
Mac Danzig (TUF 6 Winner) over Efrain Escudero (TUF 8 Winner) via unanimous decision
Anthony Njokuani over John Makdessi via unanimous decision
Matt “Immortal” Brown over Stephen Thompson via unanimous decision
Travis Browne over Chad Griggs via submission by arm triangle in Round 1
– Pay-Per-View Main Card
Mark Bocek defeated John Alessio via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28): The story of the fight was Mark Bocek implementing his game plan with superior wrestling and solid ground and pound in the first two rounds. Alessio picked up the pace in the third with some effective punches but Bocek’s grappling was just too much. One judge scored the third round for Alessio.
Eddie Yagin defeated Mark Hominick via split decision (29-28 across the board): First round saw Yagin drop Hominick with a right uppercut and connected with a left hook on the way down and landed some vicious ground and pound that produced a cut on Hominick’s left eye. Hominick got back up and connected with some body shots while Yagin was swinging for the fences. Yagin dropped Hominick in the second round with a right hook and landed some vicious shots to Hominick’s left eye. Hominick got back up and they engaged in the center of the cage where Hominick landed a solid shot to Yagin’s nose which is caused a lot of blood to pour out. It appears he is having a hard time breathing. The third round was the Mark Hominick show as he found his range and picked him apart with his superior striking while using good head movement to avoid Yagin’s wild clothesline haymakers. I scored it for Hominick but it could have gone either way as the second round was the difference-maker.
Michael McDonald defeated Miguel Torres via KO @ 3:18 of the 1st Round: McDonald pushed the pace by overwhelming Torres with strikes until he landed a vicious left hook that knocked the former bantamweight champion out and hit him with three more punches to seal the deal.
– They skipped entrances for the first three fights since there are six fights including a title fight.
Ben Rothwell defeated Brendan Schaub via TKO @ 1:10 of the 1st Round: Schaub went in for the kill right away as both fighters got into a wild firefight with neither man backing down. Rothwell connected with a right hook that knocked Schaub down and out. Post-fight interview Rothwell thanked the fans and said he would be nothing if it wasn’t for them.
Rory MacDonald defeated Che Mills via TKO @ 2:20 of the 2nd round: Rory MacDonald just obliterated Mills with strikes on the ground in the 1st round and Mills ended up with a bloody face and a busted cheekbone. The second round told the same story with MacDonald taking down Mills and taking his back to finish him with some vicious punches. This was hyped as MacDonald’s coming out party and he delivered in spades as Mills never had a chance.
UFC Light Heavyweight Championship: Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans:
Round 1: Jones kept Evans at bay by mixing up his strikes and used his reach to his advantage. Evans rocked Jones with a partially blocked right head kick with 17 seconds left in the round and attacked with caution and Jones caught him with a punch to the mouth right when the bell rang.
Round 2: Jones stayed in Evans’ range while they exchanged well-placed strikes. Jones connected with an overhand right and Evans walked away and make an ass wiping gesture. Jones connected with two elbows to the mouth that rocked Evans ad Jones went in for the kill. Evans tied him up against the fence while working body shots. The end of the round saw Evans catch a kick but Jones hits Evans with a left hook right at the bell.
Round 3: Jones did an amazing job of cutting off the cage and connecting with anything he wants while staying in Evans’ range. Evans attempted two takedowns but failed. Jones kept switching his stance throughout the round and is fighting with utter confidence. Jabs and elbows from Jones close out the round. Evans went to his corner taking some deep breaths.
Round 4: Jones lands some elbows to the head as a knot is starting to form over Evans’ right eye. Evans is breathing out of his mouth but connects with a stiff jab but Jones sticks his tongue out at him. Evans shoots for a takedown but Jones stuffs it and they clinch in the center of the cage and Jones connects with some shoulder shots to the jaw of Evans. The round ends with Jones shooting for the takedown. Evans’ walked back to his corner with his head down and dejected.
Round 5: This round was all Jon Jones with repeated jabs. Evans circles on the outside, but can’t find his range. The crowd is not happy with the pace but this is the Jon Jones show at this point. Jones connects with a mixture of jabs and low kicks. They clinch in the center of the cage and Jones hits Evans with more shoulder strikes. Jones sweeps Evans to the floor but Evans gets right back to his feet. Jones pulled guard from the stand up position in the closing seconds of the round but Evans couldn’t do anything with it.
Winner: Jon “Bones” Jones via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 50-45)
Post-fight interview: Jones said this was his most satisfying victory. He went on to say he threw a lot of elbows in the fight which you never do to a training partner and felt a lot stronger in his wrestling. Evans said Jones was pretty crafty and creative and he could not get his timing right. He did say he felt that Jones did some things better in practice than he did tonight in the fight.
Fight Stats: Jones landed 114 strikes with 71 of them to the head while Evans landed 48 strikes with 22 of them to the head
Fight of the Night: Eddie Yagin vs. Mark Hominick
Submission of the Night: Travis Browne
Knockout of the Night: Ben Rothwell
$65,000 to each fighter
Dana White confirmed at the UFC 145 Post Fight Press Conference that Dan Henderson will get the next shot at Jon Jones.
– Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans Preview & Predictions (Column I wrote for gerweck.net)
Many elite fighters have entered Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts in Albuquerque, NM. None of them are more reputable than Rashad Evans, however. That is, until Jon Jones became the pinnacle of the light heavyweight division. Jones’ rise to prosperity and eventual clash with Evans surprised no one. The former champion however paints a different picture of a pact not to fight forged by solidarity and friendship. The idea of them fighting each other was the elephant in the room that no one wanted to bring up. Sometimes a good friend can prove to be your fiercest rival.
There is nothing wrong with the UFC sponsoring Jon Jones for his upcoming bout with Rashad Evans on Saturday night. After all, their broadcasts are riffed with Tapout, Affliction, Muscle Pharm, Throwdown, and other fighter apparel. Yes, these companies pay the UFC over $100,000 for the right to sponsor a fighter, but that is the price of doing business with Zuffa. This is the first time they have ever sponsored a fighter, and it won’t be the last. In fact, Jones’ manager said in an interview that Alistair Overeem will be wearing UFC gear, presumably, in his next fight with Dos Santos, if it happens.