UFC 145: Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans – Main Event Guest Panel Picks & Predictions
By Dave Carpinello
This Saturday night in Hot-lanta, the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship is again on the line in perhaps the most toxic grudge match in years, as Jon “Bones” Jones defends his title against former champion and former close friend “Suga” Rashad Evans. The two former friends and training partners have been feuding for well over a year now and the time for trash talk is over and it is time to see which cage crawler entrance user is the true champion. Below is what some of the marquee fighters, coaches and trainers in combat sports had to say about the match-up.
PunchDrunkGamer’s UFC 145: Jones vs. Evans – Main Event Guest Panel Predictions:
Ian McCall (11-2-1, Former Tachi Palace Fights Flyweight Champion) – “I think if anyone can beat ‘Bones’ it’s Rashad but I’m going to go with Jones via decision in a semi-exciting fight.”
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (20-6, Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion & PRIDE MW GP Winner) – “They are two very smart, strategic athletes. Both of them fight thinking of their opponent’s strengths and weaknesses and think about how to fight the best possible fight to win. But I think Jon Jones has an advantage, since he is very hard to reach. He is not only long (limbed) but also fast and he can react very quickly, I know this. So, I think it’s going to be Jones’ match. However, let’s not forget Rashad is also very strategic. I believe Rashad will have a good gameplan and I am very interested to see what he will try to do in this fight.”
Paul Daley (29-12-2, Former Cage Rage British Welterweight Champion) – “Wow, this fight is going to be crazy!!!, I’m going to go with Rashad, I think he’s going to rough Jones up on the inside and make the fight uncomfortable, take him down and do the same there, 4th round TKO Evans.”
Lyoto Machida (17-3, Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion) – “Jones vs Evans is a big fight for the fans and a big fight for the division. It is a very interesting fight; Jones is very unorthodox and is strong in all aspects of the game, but Rashad is a great wrestler and has the hand speed to catch Jones.”
Forrest Griffin (18-7, Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion & Winner of the Ultimate Fighter Season 1) – “This is a great fight. I’m glad I’m not fighting Jon Jones anytime soon, but I think Rashad has the right style to give him problems. There are so many emotions between these guys going into the fight, and I know the Atlanta fans will be getting their money’s worth. Jones looks very nasty, but I’m not going to underestimate Rashad. I kinda did that before once…”
Damon Lau (President – Round 5 Corporation) – “I love Rashad’s style but there is no one I see beating Jones anytime soon. Jones is young, motivated and has the physical attributes that play in his favor no matter who he faces at 205. Does Rashad have a chance? Of course, like in any fight. Would I bet on it? Absolutely not.”
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (32-10, Unified PRIDE Middleweight & UFC Light Heavyweight Championship’s) – “Rashad has to go for it right from the start, for real. Rashad can’t play on the outside, you can’t fight no Jon Jones on the outside, believe me. Rashad is fast and can surprise you. He surprised me by faking a takedown and hitting me with a right hand which kinda stunned me. I think he can do that to Jon Jones, but he has to do it right away because the more time you give Jones, the harder it is to set him up for a punch. I think Jon Jones will win, but I think Rashad has a chance.”
Scott Casber (Takedown Wrestling Radio) – “Jones has had little trouble going through his opponents in the past. I’m wondering how much better Evans has gotten. Technical and surgical will be the orders of the day if Evans is going to win the fight. I remember when these 2 sparred and trained together. Jones was such a sponge learning all he could. Here’s the problem, he’s such a BIG sponge, he’s learned so much. Rashad still has Van in his corner at the end of the day. I think Rashad wins it.”
Chuck Liddell (21-8, Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion) – “Everyone is different but, I think, for most fighters getting into the Octagon with someone they don’t like is a great motivation in training. Every time you are tired or holding a little back, you think about losing to this guy you can’t stand and it helps you give 100%. That’s how I was with Tito, I couldn’t stand the idea of losing to him and so I trained harder.
I’d love to know who really got the best of it when these guys trained together. You get a feeling for someone when you spar with them. That’s why I was so confident against Tito; I’d beat him up standing, wrestling and at BJJ when we trained together years before out fights and I knew I was in his head because of that. Listening to Rashad, it seems from watching the Primetime show that he feels he’s in Jon’s head a little. He sounds very confident and I think that’s based on experiences in the gym. I’m glad he is confident; because that’s something you have to have against Jones. If you don’t go after Jon you are in for a bad night.”
Paul Bradley (19-4, Strikeforce & UFC Vet) – “I know it’s a long shot but I’m going to go with Evans. I just think that Evans having trained with Jones in the past, he knows him so well and will also have the mental edge over him. Evans by decision.”
Vitor Belfort (21-9, Former UFC & Cage Rage Light Heavyweight Champion) – “I think this fight will be great for the sport because Jones and Evans used to train together. That changes things, now they are going to fight against each other. We are in the new era of sport with these athletes like Jon Jones and the techniques they can do. Both guys have a chance to be the winner, and it could come down to who is better on that one night. I am looking forward to seeing this huge fight.”
Randy Couture (UFC Hall of Fame) – “I think it is going to be very interesting, Rashad has the speed and skills to win. Rashad has to avoid his propensity for standing up and just striking, which he has done in the past. He can’t just strike with Jones; if he does he will lose because Jon has more tools in the toolbox. Rashad has to take Jones down, not just once or twice but every single time he has any opportunity. If Jones is worried about getting taken down, that’s when Rashad can put his hands on him and do some damage. But he has to keep Jon guessing if it is a takedown or a strike that’s coming.
I think Jones is super-talented and he is clearly getting better in each fight. He could turn into a very special type of champion. He poses some very unique problems in the Octagon – and so far no one has solved too many of them. I think this is a huge fight for the division. “Bones” Jones is very hot right now and with the personalities and the back story, it all hypes this up into a very interesting fight.”
Ryan Couture (4-1, Son of UFC Hall of Famer) – “I think Evans will give Jones problems with his wrestling and athleticism but that Jones will find a way to get the stoppage win in the 3rd or 4th round. It should be a good fight but I can’t pick against Jones given the roll he’s been on.”
Tito Ortiz (16-10-1, Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion) – “Jones is looking very good. But Rashad is fast, man, and once he hurts you he’s on you. I’d like to see Rashad use his wrestling and takedowns and really mix it up. I think it will be a great fight.”
Andy Main (5-1, Ultimate Fighter Alum) – “I don’t know how I find myself betting against the kid again but I’m going to go with Rashad for UFC 145. Jones is an absolute phenom, but so is Rashad. People forget Rashad has only one loss and some serious power. Either way these guys are definitely the two best 205ers on the planet right now. Should be epic!”
Frank Shamrock (23-10-2, Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, WEC Light Heavyweight Champion & Strikeforce Middleweight Champion) – “This fight has a tremendous story behind it, with it having grown out of a friendship that went sour back when these two were teammates. The drama that’s fueling this is incredible. Fans can expect a fight that, stylistically, will be extremely challenging for Jones to overcome, and he’ll have fits with Rashad’s wrestling if he’s able to put Jon on his back. But ultimately, I see Jones being able to inflict more damage and walk away with the belt still in hand. This will be a fight that will not end as easily and devastatingly as Jones’s others have, but rather one of those moments in his career where he’ll have to pull himself up and battle until the final bell. In the end, this fight will help Jon become a better fighter and a better champion, and will endear himself to fans for years to come.”
Guest Panel Predictions Results:
Jon Jones – 6
Rashad Evans – 4
Undecided – 6
*Some of the opinions above were provided to PDG by the UFC.
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