Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans: 5 Reasons 'Suga' Can Upset 'Bones' in UFC Title Bout
While I personally think Jones will win (see UFC 145: 7 Reasons Jon Jones Will Crush Rashad Evans), Evans still has a chance. After all, if fans were sure of the outcome, they wouldn't even buy the pay-per-view.
It is easy to dismiss him, though. Jones has looked so dominant in every fight he has had up until now that it is hard to imagine him losing. Jones looks like a superhero in the ring, but every man looks invincible until he is beaten.
Rashad Evans could have Jones' number and there are a few good reasons fans could see him walk out of the cage in Atlanta with the title slung over his shoulder and a grin on his face.
He Has Decent Boxing
This isn't sarcasm.
Many reading may mistake the title for a joke or have already started rolling their eyes, but Evans really does have decent boxing.
Any dismissal of this argument is understandable. Jones has a ridiculous reach with an arm span of 84" to Evans's modest 75". It is very likely that Jones will keep Evans on the outside with a snapping jab or even leg kicks.
But boxing doesn't always favor the tall. If it did, fighters like Mike Tyson would never have been champion and Thomas Hearns would have been undefeated. A smaller fighter can burrow his way into his opponent's chest and use an array of body blows, hooks and uppercuts to take them out.
Getting in will be the hard part, but if Evans can do it he can put Jones at serious risk.
He Is a Great Wrestler
Jones is incredible in his wrestling. He was able to throw around a star amateur talent like Ryan Bader like it was nothing.
He was able to get the stronger and bulkier Rampage Jackson to either fight on his feet or on the ground without trying. Jackson, too, was a quality grappler.
Evans may be better then both of them. He just proved against Phil Davis on the UFC on FOX 2 that not only was he better then the Penn State wrestler on his feet, he was better on the ground as well.
Jones is a phenom so talented that he has been able to suplex an opponent like Stephan Bonnar.
Evans is no Bonnar and he is no Bader. He is a former champion and with his resume filled with former collegiate and high school talents, he may just be the best that Jones has faced in that aspect.
He Has Trained with Jones
Jon Jones is constantly adapting. He isn't the fighter he was two fights ago.
In his fight with Lyoto Machida, he proved he could change the fighter he was one round ago.
That doesn't mean that having trained with an older version of Jones won't help Evans. Knowing how the younger champion has evolved and moved in the past will give Evans some foresight that Jones' other opponents have lacked.
It will help Evans to even guess how Jones plans to counteract his strategies between rounds and in the middle of the fight.
Rashad Evans Is in Jon Jones's Head
Very few fighters have ever tried to trash talk Jon Jones.
For the most part, he has faced respectable opponents who refused to play that part of the game. The only fighters who have deviated from that are Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and (arguably) Brandon Vera.
In Vera's case it may have been a sense of overblown ego and the same can be said for Jackson, but in neither case did Jones let it affect him. Each time he shrugged it off and laughed.
Evans really has agitated Jones. Jones was sick of talking about Evans months ago as shown in an article from MMAJunkie.com. That was in September.
It has only gotten worse as time has passed and it may just blow up in Jones' face.
Evans Has Been Around the Sport Longer Than Jones
As scary as it is, both men have about the same number of fights against quality opponents.
But Evans has been in the sport longer than Jones and while he hasn't gotten as many fights in as he should—or even kept himself as focused as he needed to—at times he is still the veteran.
That may not have meant much when it came to fighters like Mauricio Rua, Quinton Jackson or Lyoto Machida, but sooner or later that accumulated knowledge that has been learned over the years will present a stumbling block to Jones that he will trip over.
How hard he falls will depend on his innate talent and the where he is mentally. In a fight with Evans, that won't be a healthy place.
And it may leave Jones less than healthy by the end of the night if he isn't careful.
Matthew Hemphill writes for the MMA and professional wrestling portion of Bleacher Report. He also hosts a blog elbaexiled.blogspot.com that focuses on books, music, comic books, video games, film and generally anything that could be related to the realms of nerdom.