UFC 145: Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans Head-to-Toe Breakdown
After dominating a number of the UFC's top 205-pound fighters, many are wondering whether Jones is beatable. Having trained with Jones in the past, Evans' familiarity with the current champion could make him the last challenger capable of dethroning the light heavyweight titleholder.
With the title fight less than one week away, let's take a look at Evans' chances of defeating Jones in Atlanta, Ga. on Saturday.
Rashad Evans knocked out Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin en route to becoming light heavyweight champion in 2008. The former The Ultimate Fighter winner is quicker on his feet than just about any other 205-pound fighter in MMA, but it will be difficult for Evans to use that quickness against Jones.
With an 84.5-inch reach, Jones should have the ability to stay away from Evans' power. Even if Evans does work his way inside, Jones showed that he can take a punch in his most recent appearance against Lyoto Machida.
Don't expect this fight to be decided by the striking of either fighter. Instead, the fighter who is able to utilize their wrestling more effectively and force their opponent to work off of their back will most likely walk away with the victory.
Evans may have successfully used his wrestling to pick up four straight wins, including a victory over a former NCAA champion wrestler in Phil Davis, but Jones has not come anywhere near being taken down inside the Octagon against opponents like Ryan Bader, Vladimir Matyushenko and Matt Hamill.
If he employs the right game plan and avoids kicking the body of Evans, which could lead to a caught kick and takedown for the challenger, Jones should be able to back his opponent down and clinch against the fence, where he'll be able to use his size to throw or trip his smaller opponent to the canvas.
While Rashad Evans' performance on the ground against Phil Davis was extremely impressive, Jon Jones has appeared to be at a whole other level when on top of his opponents.
In his rise to stardom, Jones brutally pounded out Matt Hamill, Brandon Vera and Vladimir Matyushenko with elbows. Jones' title-clinching win over Mauricio "Shogun" Rua was also mainly a result of his unparalleled ground-and-pound.
If Evans is able to take Jones down, the challenger may be able to take advantage of the champion's lack of experience fighting off of his back. However, Jones has a much greater ability to finish the fight from the top position than Evans.
Though neither fighter has been submitted in their respective careers, Evans has not earned a submission victory since the first two fights of his career in April 2004.
Evans may be able to avoid being submitted in this fight, but he certainly isn't going to force a tap from Jones, who has submitted the likes of Ryan Bader, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Lyoto Machida in three of his past four fights.
Jon Jones and Rashad Evans have both competed in multiple UFC title fights and should be largely unaffected by the hype surrounding this matchup.
Additionally, having coaches like Greg Jackson and Mike Van Arsdale in their respective corners means Jones and Evans will be as prepared as possible for one another come fight night.
Ultimately, the more physically talented fighter will win this fight and leave UFC 145 as light heavyweight champion.
Evans possesses outstanding quickness for a light heavyweight, but Jones has proven to be that next-generation fighter MMA fans have been waiting for since the sport exploded in popularity.
Jones has a massive reach advantage against just about any light heavyweight, and he has not shown any signs of conditioning problems despite going into the fourth round in his bout against Quinton "Rampage" Jackson.
Love him or hate him, it is hard to argue that Jones isn't already one of the most gifted athletes to ever compete in MMA.
Hyoung Chang/Denver Post
Rashad Evans has never been submitted in his MMA career, but Lyoto Machida had also never been forced to tap before he met Jon Jones at UFC 140.
Jones won't easily be able to take Evans down, but once he does, the champion will break the challenger's will with his elbows from the top position.
The former The Ultimate Fighter winner will survive on the ground and work his way back up to his feet. However, later in the fight, a tired and defeated Evans will take a desperation shot at the legs of Jones and will suffer the first submission loss of his career due to a guillotine choke.
Jones defeats Evans by submission (guillotine choke) in the fourth round.