Tomorrow night is the long-awaited showdown between former stablemates Jon Jones and Rashad Evans for the UFC Light Heavyweight Title. Will the phenom Jones continue his ascendance, or will Evans play spoiler?
If he did, it wouldn’t be the first time. Even when Evans knocked out Chuck Liddell with an overhand right to win his first title in what was considered a huge upset, we should have known better. Evans thrives on the insistence people have in underestimating his skills and intelligence. It may seem ludicrous to call the consensus #2 Light Heavyweight in the world underrated, but it’s apt. Sure, he got caught against Machida, but it literally happens to the best of them.
I’m picking Jones, but I wouldn’t call an Evans win an upset. Not even considering that due to various injuries, Evans has only fought three times in the last two years. Because I know better by now, and you should too.
The full card, and my picks for the main broadcast:
Preliminary card (streaming live via the UFC’s Facebook page)
- Featherweight bout: Marcus Brimage vs. Maximo Blanco
- Welterweight bout: Keith Wisniewski vs. Chris Clements
Preliminary card (airing FX)
- Lightweight bout: Mac Danzig vs. Efrain Escudero
- Lightweight bout: John Makdessi vs. Anthony Njokuani
- Welterweight bout: Matt Brown vs. Stephen Thompson
- Heavyweight bout: Travis Browne vs. Chad Griggs
- Lightweight bout: Mark Bocek vs. John Alessio
- Featherweight bout: Mark Hominick vs. Eddie Yagin
- Bantamweight bout: Miguel Torres vs. Michael McDonald
- Heavyweight bout: Brendan Schaub vs. Ben Rothwell
- Welterweight bout: Rory MacDonald vs. Che Mills
- Light Heavyweight Championship bout: Jon Jones (c) vs. Rashad Evans
- Bocek over Alessio via Submission, R3. Alessio’s a bit of a wild card. He’s done well for himself the last few years, but Bocek’s been fighting a much higher level of competition in the UFC and WEC.
- Hominick over Yagin via TKO, R2. Both are finishers and this should be an aggressive, explosive encounter. A lot of people are writing off Yagin, but I think he’s going to give Hominick quite a bit of trouble.
- (Michael) McDonald over Torres by Unanimous Decision. I like Miguel, but I think his days of being at the top of the Bantamweight Division are over, at least for the time being. The competition hasn’t completely passed him by, but but this division’s only gotten stronger in the last three years. McDonald has looked great, so great that I’m picking him to win even though he shares a name with a Yacht Rocker.
- Schaub over Rothwell by Unanimous Decision. Rothwell is tough enough to survive Schaub’s onslaught, but doesn’t have the offensive tools to put him in any real danger. Barring bad cardio from Schaub, this is his fight to lose.
- (Rory) McDonald over Mills via TKO, R3. This or Homonick/Yagin is going to get Fight of the Night. Mills has a good game, but McDonald is quite possibly the most underrated guy at 170 (and the one who put Nate Diaz out of the division).
- Jones over Evans via TKO, R4. I’m having what you might call a premonition. I see Rashad keeping distance between himself and Jones in the first round and surprising him with a couple takedowns, grinding out a 10-9 on the judges’ scorecards. Then Jones will adjust and batter him the next three rounds, ending in either a stoppage early in the 4th or in Evans being unable to answer the bell. If anybody can beat Jones, it’s Evans. But the kid’s a monster. Case in point: if he wins this fight, he’ll have cleaned out the Light Heavyweight division in a manner of a couple years. Amazing.