The UFC comes to the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia to put on a great night of fights including one of the most anticipated grudge matches in UFC history as former friends and teammates “Suga” Rashad Evans and Jon “Bones” Jones face off for the UFC’s 205lb title.
Also on the card, rising welterweight star Rory MacDonald meets Che Mills, Brendan Schaub clashes with Ben Rothwell in a heavyweight tilt, and former bantamweight champ Miguel Torres takes on Michael McDonald.
Evans and Jones to finally settle personal issues with title at stake
Early in 2011, Rashad Evans was again the number one contender for the UFC Light Heavyweight title. He had just gotten past Thiago Silva and Rampage Jackson, earning himself a shot at then champion, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Unfortunately for “Suga”, he blew his knee out and had to be sidelined. This is where Jon Jones came into the picture. Jones was then on an impressive win streak, and after handing Ryan Bader his first loss back in UFC 126, Jones got the announcement that the UFC wanted him to step in for Evans. Jones accepted the fight, and the rest is history.
As teammates, Evans and Jones said that they wouldn’t fight each other but in an interview, Jones retracted his statement, saying that he’d fight his friend and teammate if necessary. Jones’ statements angered Evans which started a feud between the two, and ultimately causing the former champion to leave Jackson-Winklejohn’s.
Since Jones won the title at UFC 128, he has defended it twice, all in devastating fashion. His most recent victory was against another former champion in Lyoto Machida. Midway through the second round, Jones choked Machida out, leaving “The Dragon” unconscious as he fell to the mat.
Evans has not lost since May 2009 when he dropped the title to Machida, but has only fought four times since then, defeating two former champions in Rampage and Tito Ortiz as well as two tough tests in Thiago Silva and Phil Davis. At UFC on FOX 2 last January, Evans handed Davis his first career loss, outwrestling and outstriking the much bigger Davis en route to a unanimous decision win.
The smaller Evans will need to use his speed with his wrestling and knockout power to overcome the size, strength and skill of Jones.
Which of these two will come out on top in this highly anticipated grudge match?
Rising talents Rory MacDonald and Che Mills tangle in Weltwerweight Bout
Rory “Ares” MacDonald is 3-1 in the UFC, but has impressed people in all of his four Octagon appearances. In his only loss, MacDonald took current Interim Welterweight champion Carlos Condit to the limit and seemed to be on his way to a win when Condit made a last minute run to TKO MacDonald. The Tristar Gym product would bounce back by defeating Nate Diaz and knocking out Mike Pyle. Now, he faces another up and comer in Che Mills.
Mills will only be making his second Octagon appearance when he takes on MacDonald at UFC 145. The England native made his UFC debut at UFC 138 where he won Knockout of the Night honors by destroying Chris Cope within 40 seconds of the first round. Mills is currently riding a five fight win streak, and looks to extend this streak against a dangerous opponent in Rory MacDonald.
Both MacDonald and Mills are fairly well-rounded fighters who can pick up the win standing up or on the mat.
Which of these two young welterweights will move up the ladder?
Veterans Ben Rothwell and Miguel Torres face young talents in Brendan Schaub and Michael McDonald.
Heavyweight veteran Ben Rothwell attempts to bounce back from a loss when he takes on The Ultimate Fighter season 10 finalist Brendan Schaub. A veteran of 38 fights, Rothwell made his UFC debut against future champion Cain Velasquez back in 2009, losing via TKO. Since then, Rothwell is 1-1, defeating Gilbert Yvel then losing to Mark Hunt.
Looking to bounce back from a loss as well is Brendan “The Hybrid” Schaub. Before coming into the UFC, Schaub went 4-0 and then lost to Roy Nelson during The Ultimate Fighter 10 finale. After the Nelson loss, Schaub would rack up another impressive four wins including wins over Gabriel Gonzaga and Mirko Cro Cop. At UFC Rio, Schaub went up against former PRIDE and UFC Interim champ Minotauro Noguiera. Noguiera would pull off a huge win by knocking out Schaub in the first round.
While Schaub has serious knockout power in his hands, Rothwell appears to be the more well-rounded fighter and is certainly the more experienced one.
Another veteran fighting on the card is former WEC Bantamweight Champion Miguel Torres. Up until August of 2009, Torres racked up an impressive 37-1 professional record, winning and defending the WEC Bantamweight title in the process. He would then drop the strap to Brian Bowles and then get tapped out by Joseph Benavidez, marking the first time Torres would suffer two straight losses. Torres is currently 2-1 in the UFC, defeating Nick Pace and Antonio Banuelos while falling to Demetrious Johnson.
At age 19, Michael McDonald was the youngest fighter to be signed by Zuffa. He made his WEC debut after going 10-1 as a pro. He would impress in his WEC debut, winning via a quick armbar against Clint Godfrey. The following year, McDonald would make his UFC debut, defeating Edwin Figueroa via Unanimous Decision. McDonald won twice more inside the Octagon and will be facing his toughest test against Miguel Torres.
Torres is a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu blackbelt and his records show that he has found most of his success by submitting people. Of his 40 wins, 23 are by submission. McDonald on the other hand has found more success by knocking people out. Of his 14 wins, eight have come via KO or TKO.
Can the veterans hold their own or will the young guns make a statement?
Exciting Lightweights and Featherweights open Main Card
Former title contender Mark Hominick looks to remove the sting of his last loss as he takes on Filipino-American Eddie Yagin. After coming up short against Jose Aldo back at UFC 129, Hominick was expected to come back better and most people thought that he would run right through Chan Sung Jung. Jung had other ideas as he knocked Hominick out in just 7 seconds. Now, “The Machine” looks to get back on track against Yagin.
At UFC 135, Yagin made his Octagon debut, losing to Junior Assuncao. Prior to his UFC debut, Yangin boasted a respectable 15-4-1 record while facing tough names such as Vitor Ribeiro, Rich Clementi, and even winning against Joe Soto. Yagin now looks to get his first win inside the octagon against Mark Hominick.
Hominick possesses a kickboxing background and has serious knockout power, but he has also shown skill on the ground, scoring seven of his 20 wins via submission. Yagin has an equal number of knockouts and submissions on his win list, which can only mean that he capable of winning the fight anywhere it goes.
Opening the main card is an exciting lightweight battle between Mark Bocek and a returning John Alessio. Bocek made his UFC debut back in 2007 against former champion Frankie Edgar, losing via TKO. Since then, Bocek has had a rollercoaster career inside the Octagon, going 6-3 against names like Jim Miller and current lightweight king Ben Henderson.
Another MMA veteran, John Alessio has fought in many different organizations including PRIDE and the WEC. Originally a welterweight, Alessio decided to drop down to lightweight back in 2011 and going 2-0 as a 155lber. With a record of 34-14, Alessio has faced the best of the best including Diego Sanchez, Carlos Condit, Paul Daley, and Siyar Bahadurzada.
Bocek is a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu blackbelt and has seven of his ten wins via submission. Alessio has had success in both knocking people out and submitting people, plus he may have a strength advantage, having fought at welterweight for most of his career.
Which of these featherweights and lightweights will go home with a win?
UFC 145: Jones vs. Evans Full Fight Card
LHW Title: Jon Jones (C)(USA, 15-1) vs. Rashad Evans (USA, 22-1-1)
WW: Rory MacDonald (CAN, 12-1) vs. Che Mills (ENG, 14-4, 1NC)
HW: Brendan Schaub (USA, 9-2) vs. Ben Rothwell (USA, 31-8)
BW: Miguel Torres (USA, 39-4) vs. Michael McDonald (USA, 14-1)
FW: Mark Hominick (CAN, 20-10) vs. Eddie Yagin (USA, 15-5-1)
LW: Mark Bocek (CAN, 10-4) vs. John Alessio (CAN, 34-14)
HW: Travis Browne (USA, 12-0-1) vs. Chad Griggs (USA, 11-1)
WW: Matt Brown (USA, 15-11) vs. Stephen Thompson (USA, 6-0)
LW: John Makdessi (USA, 9-1) vs. Anthony Njokuani (NIG, 15-6)
LW: Mac Danzig (USA, 21-9-1) vs. Efrain Escudero (MEX, 19-4)
WW: Keith Wisniewski (USA, 28-12-1) vs. Chris Clements (USA, 10-4)
FW: Marcus Brimage (USA, 4-1) vs. Maximo Blanco (8-3-1, 1NC)
Catch UFC 145: Jones vs. Evans on Sunday, April 22, 10:30 am, only on Balls, Sky Cable channel 34!