UFC 145 Fight Card: 5 Reasons Rashad Evans Can Upset Jon 'Bones' Jones
This Saturday, April 21st, two tales will converge, and two friends-turned-enemies will hold no punches in writing the ending.
Evans will split the sea of fans, ascend the stairs and circle the Octagon before squaring up.
Jones will meditate in preparation for chaos, then attempt to net the last butterfly before his entrance's countdown reaches zero.
Eventually, Mike Goldberg will exclaim, "Here, we, go!" and the fans' love for the sport will sprout from a withering relationship injected with hatred.
Evans is a 5:1 underdog, but every fighter has a shot, and Rashad may be the best shooter in the business.
Rashad may be fighting the blue corner, but he'll be seeing red.
If "Suga" capitalizes on these advantages, Evans will strike his way to gold.
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Evans has three more career MMA fights, and four more in the UFC (14 total).
He's strutted to the Octagon as the underdog in nearly every fight, and has thrived while playing the role with a nothing-to-lose mentality.
Unlike his former sparring partner, Evans has also experienced a five-round fight. Nothing will surprise him.
In short, Jones' status, accomplishments and eclectic arsenal of strikes aren't going to intimidate Rashad.
Van Arsdale was recruited by the wrestling powerhouse at Iowa State, before capturing the 1988 collegiate national championship.
Rashad's grappling will be as sharp as a scalpel, and it's going to take surgeon-like precision to take down the reigning light heavyweight champion.
Evans is extremely familiar with the tactics of Greg Jackson and Co.
However, Jones is left in the dark regarding Van Arsdale's bag of tricks.
This is the double-edged sword of the matchup, and is the most probable factor in dictating the outcome.
Takedowns: Jones doesn't allow them, and Evans forces them at will.
In 10 UFC bouts, Jones has never been taken down. Not once. As a JUCO national champion, his wrestling pedigree and intimidating length negate the skill of most wrestlers.
But, Evans is not most wrestlers.
Rashad may be the quickest shooter terrorizing the Octagon today.
This particular aspect can end one of two ways: Jones sprawling and introducing his vicious knees to Evans' midsection, or "Bones" landing on his back and fans witnessing his defensive ground grappling for the first time.
In a clash of strength versus strength, the result may determine which fighter Dana White is sizing up for the belt by the night's end.
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Although Jones will discredit the notion that Evans was like a mentor to him, video doesn't lie.
The personality of each represents opposite ends of the spectrum.
For the most part, Jones is laid back and claims that his matchup with Evans is just another fight.
Throughout the media circus, Rashad has been straightforward about the emotional disparity between the upcoming clash and those of the past.
When the two—who have admitted they were once as close as brothers—share the same room, Rashad wastes no time in trying to break the skin of Jones to strike a nerve.
The ability to focus is Jones' most significant mental asset, but Evans is trying to throw that by the wayside.
Familiarity with Jones
Photo by Esther Lin
Under the guidance of Greg Jackson, Jones and Evans used to spar together on a daily basis.
This may partly be the reason why Evans has taken advantage of every opportunity to declare psychological warfare with the champion.
If you mark their words, Jones primarily views UFC 145 as another title defense. Evans, on the other hand, firstly perceives it as a tale of payback against his former camp that betrayed him.
If "Bones" overlooks the competition, the Jon Jones Kool-Aid may taste bittersweet after it mixes with too much "Suga."