UFC 145: Jones vs. Evans

Saturday, April 21, 2012

PRELIMINARY CARD (Facebook)
Maximo Blanco (8-3, 7 KO, 1 dec, losses-3 KO, 2 sub, 1 DQ) vs. Marcus Brimage (4-1, 2 KO, 2 dec, loss-1 sub). Blanco was a standout wrestler but has become known for his powerhouse striking in MMA. Both these guys are really rough around the edges and need more experience. But this is a match that seems tailored to deliver Blanco to the next level with a dramatic finish. So I’ll go with Blanco by KO.

Chris Clements (10-4, 10 KO, losses-1 KO, 3 sub) vs. Keith Wisniewski (28-13, 6 KO, 15 sub, 7 dec, losses-3 KO, 4 sub, 6 dec). Wisniewski is on 30 years old and has WAY more experience (42 fights) but the burnout factor is always a hidden enemy in these cases. If he’s fresh and has a fast enough shot, he can take this by submission. But I’m thinking that won’t happen as I see Clements stuffing a few TD attempts and then finding Keith’s chin for the KO.

PRELIMINARY CARD (FX)
Travis Browne vs. Chad Griggs
Chad Griggs (11-1, 9 KO, 2 sub, losses-1 sub) is the everyman’s favorite. He beats the odds. It ain’t pretty but boy is it exciting. But the stakes are extremely high here. It’s his UFC debut and he’s facing a man on the rise in Travis Browne (12-0-1, 9 KO, 1 sub, 2 dec). Browne has definitely beaten the better opposition but Griggs brings something special to the contest; his unpredictability. Still I can’t see how Browne would or could give up his unbeaten status to the wild bull from Arizona. I pick Browne by KO in a crazy one.

Matt Brown vs. Stephen Thompson
Matt Brown (13-11, 7 KO, 5 sub, 1 dec, losses-9 sub, 2 dec) is a real test for the high kicking Stephen Thompson (6-0, 3 KO, 1 sub, 2 dec). To me Thompson has a chance, minus the distraction of making movies, of being what Cung Le couldn’t, a flashy traditional karate style fighter who uses footwork to bewilder his opponents. I honestly don’t se this fight being that exciting to be honest. Thompson will skate around and score points while Brown will try to clinch, plant and blast. Brown is hoping for Wanderlei vs. Cung Le but I envision Gustafson vs. Silva myself. Thompson by decision.

John Makdessi vs. Anthony Njokuani
This is a similar match to Matt Brown/Stephen Thompson except that Makdessi (10-1, 7 KO, 2 dec, loss-1 sub) is more experienced in MMA and therefore likes to stand and unload more than his countryman, Thompson, does. Njokuani (14-6, 8 KO, 6 dec, losses-1 KO, 3 sub, 2 dec) is a strong and aggressive striker, but he’s also not very creative, and therefore predictable. But he may have the key to send the Canadian into his 2nd loss because of power and of course pride. Njokuani by decision.

Mac Danzig vs. Efrain Escudero
Both TUF winners. Stylistically they have their minor differences: Danzig (20-9, 5 KO, 10 sub, 5 sub, losses-1 KO, 2 sub, 6 dec) seems more well rounded but I wouldn’t say he is great in any one area. He has technical boxing but lacks power. His submissions are sound but I wouldn’t advise a ground game against the Mexican grappling ace. The on-again-off-again Escudero (18-4, 1 KO, 12 sub, 5 dec, losses-2 sub, 2 dec) is like an updated version of Joe Stevenson, a wrestler with strong submissions. Danzig has the footwork to stay out of the clinch in a match that will infuriate the crowd. Going on their previous track records however I see Escudero locking up a submission for the win, all to the boos, or booze for that matter, of the crowd.

MAIN CARD
Mark Bocek vs. John Alessio
Surely John “The Natural” Alessio (32-14), who replaces injured Matt Wiman, will envision an Aldo vs Mendes performance here, neutralizing BJJ black belt Mark Bocek ground heavy game and starching him in standing mode. But if he fights too defensively and doesn’t hurt Mark, which I think he won’t, Alessio could let Bocek impose his wrestling/grappling to the extent of a lay & pray victory or more likely, if the fight stays on the floor, a submission. Bocek by decision.

Mark Hominick (20-10) vs. Eddie Yagin (15-5-1)
Hominick’s striking is better and his takedown defense will neutralize any advantage that Yagin has on the floor. Still Yagin is a rough and tumble character and will swing for the fences and most likely lose and exciting decision.

Miguel Torres vs. Mike McDonald
Torres (40-4, 2-1 UFC) has fallen significantly since his days as WEC champion when he was in the ‘pound for pound best’ conversation. After the Twitter slip up, and timeout that followed, he looks to just get on first base here with a “back to his old self” win. Michael “Mayday” McDonald (14-1, 3-0 UFC), “Fight of The Night” bonus at UFC 139 (56 sec KO of Alex Soto) has other ideas.

Both guys have strong standup, Torres at range and McDonald with his powerful right hand. So I say they stack up about even on their feet. On the floor Miguel has shown a world class guard but many times judges, for whatever reason, don’t reward bottom game players. It’s a toss up but my gut says Torres will win a decision in a speedy and technical fight.

Brendan Schaub vs. Ben Rothwell
Ben Rothwell (31-8, 17 KO, 11, sub, 3 dec, losses 4 KO, 1 sub, 3 dec) last brawled with Mark Hunt and lost a sloppy decision to the popular K-1 champion. Brendan Schaub (8-2, 7 KO, 1 dec, losses 2 KO). Speed doesn’t only kill, it also wins decisions and that exactly what’s going to happen here. Schaub by decision.

Rory MacDonald vs. Che Mills
Rory MacDonald (12-1, 5 KO, 6 sub, 1 dec, loss by KO) Tri-Star Gym, teammate of Georges St. Pierre Che Mills (14-1, 7 KO, 4 sub, 2 dec. losses 3 sub, 1 dec). Mills has good standup and is coming in off a “Knockout of The Night” performance against Kit Cope. But MacDonald is a different breed entirely and should be able to match and surpass the Englishman’s rather straightforward kickboxing approach and dominate him in every other aspect on way to another impressive win. MacDonald by submission.

Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans
Jones has significant height & reach (over 9”) advantage over Evans and has destroyed 3 former champions: Shogun Rua, Lyoto Machida & Quinton Jackson. Evans is coming in with some momentum off a one-sided decision over previous unbeaten Phil Davis, a man some had prematurely thought could challenge Jones.

This fight is all about tempo; Rashad must push the action and Jon must answer the aggression with force and movement. Hanging around on the outside would be slow suicide for Evans. If I were Rashad I’d be watching lots of Mike Tyson knockouts as inspiration and analyzing how he got inside all those bigger guys he fought. A Hagler/Hearns style brawl would actually be of benefit to the challenger, as long as he stays aware of the champs knees. Jones should use his length and throw straight punches and tear Evans up at long distance. I picture a standing battle for the most part because I don’t see a wrestling advantage for either in the heat of an MMA battle. It’ll be Ali/Frazier III under MMA rules while it lasts. I not see this fight going the distance. I see a brutal KO for Jon Jones via head kick in the early rounds.

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