It wasn’t for lack of trying, but Jon Jones just couldn’t get a spectacular finish against Rashad Evans. Jones repeatedly landed punches, kicks and elbows, but Evans’ defensive tactics kept the fight standing and kept the fighters at a distance from each other throughout.
In the end, the former light-heavyweight champion was no threat at all for the current champ in a unanimous decision victory for Jones.
Two judges scored it four rounds to one for Jones, and the other called it a shutout.
After the fight, Jones said it was his “most satisfying victory,” though it had to be frustrating since he couldn’t finish his former training partner. For his part, Evans admitted his strategic deficiencies, calling Jones “crafty” and “sneaky” with his strikes. Evans also seemed very frustrated that he couldn’t get anything going and spent five rounds on defense.
This isn’t going to be a fight that the UFC hypes up as one of the best of the year, but it’s further evidence that Jones is one of the three best mixed martial artists in the world. He was never in danger against the most polished fighter he has faced so far. The scariest part is that Jones is still developing as a fighter.
Evans was the light heavyweight champion. He had knocked out Chuck Liddell, then took the title from Forrest Griffin. He was on top of the world and looked like a guy who might bring some stability to the division.
Instead, he got knocked out in his first defense against Lyoto Machida, got hurt training for his shot at then-champion Mauricio Rua, only to have his teammate (and soon-to-be champion) Jones replace him in the Rua fight. Then he had to leave Greg Jackson’s training camp in New Mexico because he had a shot at Jones’ title and the gym wouldn’t train them both. On top of that, he then got divorced from his high school sweetheart all while having to find a whole new team to train with.
So yeah, it was a rough couple of years for Evans. Not so much for Jones.
Jones, 24, has rolled through one opponent after another and lost only once on a disqualification for illegal elbows. He has also successfully defended his belt against Rampage Jackson and Machida in convincing fashion.
However, constant injuries to Jones and/or Evans caused this fight to be postponed twice, allowing the UFC hype machine to get the “back story” for this fight out there to pick up a few extra PPV buys.
Whether there is real animosity between Evans and Jones doesn’t really matter much anyway since the matchup seemed great based solely on fighting styles.
Jones’ style and freaky length showed in the second round, of which he took utter control with a vicious left followed by elbows at various intervals that kept Evans on his heels. Evans gamely threw back and tried to compete, but could do little to stop Jones’ offense.
Evans was largely defensive in Round 3, leaving Jones to throw jabs and kicks from the outside with little to no answer from the challenger. After the strong elbows from Jones in Round 2, Evans’ right hand was stuck on the side of his face, protecting the it from more damage.
Jones further owned the fourth round and the announcers immediately began questioning Evans’ conditioning for the fight. In truth, Evans simply could not offer anything offensive that was a threat to Jones. He couldn’t get inside enough to do damage because of Jones’ elbows, and if he stayed outside, Jones would jab and kick him to death, being totally comfortable with a decision win.
The fifth, ad final round was largely a formality with the two playing out the same basic plan: Evans not really doing anything offensive and Jones in total, complete control of the octagon.