Evans: Mission Improbable – Preview to UFC 145
This Saturday night sees former friends and team mates face-off against each other in the main event of UFC 145 in Atlanta, Georgia, for the UFC light heavyweight title.
24-year-old Jon Jones will look to defend his title against 32-year-old former champion Rashad Evans. This is a match-up that has been a year in the making, held back by a number of injuries to Evans.
Jones comes in as the heavy favourite due to his huge reach (84in) and diverse, unorthodox striking. Many have touted Jones as the future of the sport and using previous performances as a judge, it’s hard to argue against that point.
However in Evans, Jones faces his biggest challenge to date. Evans is a fighter with just one loss on his record, has a huge experience advantage and perhaps the biggest advantage of them all, he’s trained with Jones from the beginning of his opponent’s career and will know better than anyone Jon’s fighting traits.
It’s a match-up that will be the true proving point for both fighters.
Both are the division’s best; both are a long way ahead of the competition. Should Jones win, it will be his third successful title defence and will leave him with a couple more defences before the eventual move up to heavyweight. For Evans, a win will see him sit atop the division for a second time.
A loss for Jones won’t be as damaging as it would be for Evans, however. Should Jones lose, he can learn and move forward and challenge again. For Evans, a loss means something very different.
Being the older of the two men, Evans knows his time is up: he needs the win to avoid being stuck in the number two position. Evans has beaten the best the division has to offer in his seven-year UFC career, and a loss Saturday night could see him left in the dreaded gate-keeper role or worse, a look at a move down to middleweight or so called “dream” fights.
Whatever the outcome Saturday night, one thing is guaranteed: this is going to be a truly great fight. Both have similar skill sets, yet both apply them differently. Could it be a case of who lands first?
There are other good fights to look out for on this fight card though.
Steven Wonderboy Thompson will make his second appearance inside the UFC’s octagon when he takes on Matt Brown. Thompson will look to improve his UFC record to 2-0 after his head-kick KO-win over Dan Stiggen at UFC 143 back in February. Thompson is one to watch for the future with a perfect MMA record of 6-0 so far and a pro kickboxing record of 63-0.
In the co main event, there is English interest as Che Mills takes on Rory MacDonald in a welterweight bout. MacDonald has been heavily praised by training partner, number two pound-for-pound fighter in the world and current UFC welterweight champion George St-Pierre. Che Mills, on the other hand, is coming in on a five-fight win streak with the last being at UFC 138, a 40 second TKO over Chris Cope. This fight could very well win fight of the night honours, so tune in.
While the main focus of this card is the Jones versus Evans match-up – and on paper the card doesn’t appear to be the strongest – if you dig deep enough, you’ll see there is plenty of potential for exciting fights top to bottom.
UFC 145 will be a huge night. Tune in live on ESPN UK at 3am or set your DVRs, as this isn’t to be missed.