Last Saturday, it took close to three full rounds for Jon "Bones" Jones to do to Mauricio "Shogun" Rua what most fans and a few experts thought Shogun was going to do to Jones within the course of the first round.
As a fan, you were either going for Shogun, going for Bones, or you didn't care who won as long as the fight was good, and while it wasn't the Fight of The Night, it was an entertaining fight in its own respect.
Now, it's out with Shogun and in with Bones, as "Suga" Rashad Evans is finally done waiting for his chance at a second UFC Light Heavyweight title reign, but does this fight favor Jones more than his now-former teammate?
In a number of ways it does favor the new champ, but in the same respect, this upcoming fight does show its bright spots for the former champ.
Don't believe it?
Let's take a closer look at the way in which Jones might be able to take this fight, and the ways in which he's as good as done.
At the time of this slideshow, Evans hadn't fought since UFC 114 in May, and when you're out of the cage for a little over a half-year or more, the questions start coming up about whether you're going to be able to perform in the cage without showing any deficiencies or any cage rust.
First, there was Shogun's knee injury from the UFC 113 fight with Lyoto Machida, which made it a definite that sometime this Spring was when the fight was going to happen, and of course Dana believed that Shogun would in fact be able to fight at UFC 128.
Then, Evans made the choice to not take a fight while waiting for Shogun, which is essentially what set in motion everything that's happened.
It was announced about six to seven weeks ago, immediately after Jones submitted Ryan Bader at UFC 126, that Evans injured his knee in training, which set up the bout we saw last night.
Evans' knee didn't look as though it was too bad as he seemed to walk normally when he approached Jones after the fight, but until the fight is signed, the number of months off will only increase and that time off could expose some deficiencies caused by the time off.
If Evans proves to show any deficiency in his game, Jones will expose it and he will make him pay for it.
If you look at the record of Evans before his loss to Machida, you know that the fight with Thiago Silva isn't the first time Rashad's taken a fight after being off more than half a year.
About six months after head-kicking Sean Salmon, he took on Tito Ortiz and took him to a draw.
The Chuck Liddell KO?
Happened 10 months after he put the first blemish on Michael Bisping's pro record.
Of course, he'd have come off a seven-month layoff if his fight with Quinton Jackson happened at UFC 107, but he went on to come off of an eight-month layoff and beat Silva.
Basic point: Rashad's got a history of coming off of layoff and showing no deficiencies in his game.
It's possible that the only way flaws show up in Evans' game is if Jones creates flaws in Evans' game.
Before Rua, people mentioned the wrestlers that Bones has faced, from Matt Hamill to Vladimir Matyushenko to Ryan Bader, and one standout truh about his fights with those men is that they weren't able to get Jones on the ground.
His Greco-Roman is actually quite good and he does a good job controlling his foes on the ground when he gets them down.
Unless Rashad's got some scary takedown defense waiting to present itself to Jones, Rashad will suffer a similar fate as the others who have failed to take down Jones.
It depends on how you look at a situation in the long run, but that we haven't seen Jones on his back in his career says something—and depending on your interpretation of it, that can either be a good thing or a bad thing for Jones.
Evans has shown in his past two fights that he's still every bit as solid of a wrestler as he's ever been, despite him being somewhat of a finisher before the Machida loss.
Rampage Jackson might be the best example of a wrestler that is good in his own right, yet was taken down at will by Evans.
If he did that against Jackson, who looked to be the bigger fighter between himself and Rashad, imagine what Rashad might be able to do to get Bones on the ground.
Jones and Rashad have seen each other's game many time before—in training and in the cage on select fight nights.
They've been as close of friends as two teammates can be in this "Hurt Business," and they been around each other enough to where they know what the other likes to do.
Jones likely knows that Evans will go for the takedown and he'll try to ground him out, and he'll likely find a way to stuff the takedown.
On the other hand though...
Like I said previously, both guys are close enough to where Rashad and Jon both know what the other likes to do in fights.
Hence, Rashad knows how to counter the chameleon-like game of the highly-unorthodox champion.
Does he counter-punch? Does he take down? Does he do something to Jones that we're not even suggesting?
All of the above could be true, but nobody has the game plan down to beat Jones except for Evans.
Did I mention he trained with the dude?
There's your logic.
Here's what probably stands out most in this fight: Evans is the fighter of which you already know the game plan coming into this fight.
He's smart enough to know that he has to expose a lack of good takedown defense in Bones and he has to ground him out.
With Bones, you can expect some striking, but you don't know if his striking will get the job done, or if it'll be his Greco-Roman that will do it.
He makes guys look like they've never been in a cage before, and the weird thing is that even if you know he'll make an opponent look foolish, you can't ever truly predict how Jones is going to make his foes look foolish.
For those who are still wondering about the connection between Urijah Faber and Jon Jones, let me put it briefly:
Both men are known for being rather unorthodox with their striking at times, and sometimes both me can be flashy.
The difference is, Faber tried a flashy move and ate a sick right hook for trying to land the "Spider Slice"—that nasty elbow that Anderson Silva knocked Tony Fryklund out with.
Jones, as I stated before, was supposed to pay for that flashy stuff in Round 1, Round 2 at the latest, but Shogun never got the chance to make him pay for it.
Rashad Evans is wise to where he knows his wrestling needs to come into play, but although he's gone back to his roots as a Wrestler, he's also still a pretty damn good counter-puncher.
Good striker? Not quite as good as he may have been once, but he does know how to land some sickening counter-shots on anything that decides to get too "Hollywood" on him.
Jones should keep that in mind.
Heck, maybe GSP can teach him how to just jab Evans until Evans' eye looks like John Howard's after the Jake Ellenberger fight.
Some believe that what he did at UFC 128 was enough in its own right to cement Bones as pound-for-pound the arguable king at 205 pounds, while others may cite his pro record in concurring with the statement that the 23-year-old is pound-for-pound the best Light Heavyweight in MMA.
While he did beat arguably the greatest Light Heavyweight in MIxed Martial Arts, he's still in possession of his detractors, who have their excuses to make for Rua's loss and therefore don't believe he's the best P4P Light Heavyweight in the world.
One thing you never question about Bones is that he's always hungry, no matter how arrogant the media makes him out to be.
He's calling himself the champ right now, just as he did before the fight, but he probably knows better than even I that he's got a ways to go before his status is dye-in-the-wool a truth that Jones is the P4P king of the 205er.
This fight with his former teammate and friend is the first step towards cementing his status in the Light Heavyweight division.
He might be that cocky dude you want to punch in the face before you leave the arena, but nobody can question the drive of a former champion—especially when they're as determined to become a two-time champ like Evans is.
He lost the belt to Machida, fought after an eight month layoff against Thiago Silva in a race to get back to "The Dragon," witnessed Rua take the belt, and looked hungry to win it back from the PRIDE Legend before Jones beat him.
Now, mindsets and philosophies have altered.
Evans no longer cares that his shot at being a two-time 205-lb. champ means defeating his boy—he just wants to get his strap back, and he's aiming to do it without any help from the Greg Jackson boys.
How's THAT for a guy who wants his belt back?