ATLANTA – The student taught the mentor a thing or two about fighting in the main event of UFC 145 on Saturday. Jon Jones kept his light heavyweight title with a one-sided victory over Rashad Evans, his former training partner and close friend, before a loud sellout crowd at Philips Arena.
Jones' 84 1/2-inch reach was the biggest difference in the grudge match that was 14 months in the making. The two split after Jones said he'd consider fighting Evans, the man who brought him into the highly regarded Jackson's MMA camp in Albuquerque, N.M., and helped develop him into one of the most dominant forces in the sport.
Jones landed a series of kicks, punches and elbows that kept Evans on the outside and didn't allow him to generate any sustained offense. The champion had a 112-56 edge in strikes, including a 52-12 advantage in power shots, according to CompuStrike.
"It felt completely different fighting him," Jones said in the cage after the bout, which he won by scores of 50-45, 49-46 and 49-46. "I threw a lot of elbows, which is something you don't do to a training partner. My wrestling, I'm a better, stronger wrestler."
This fight, though, was fought primarily on the feet, with Jones controlling the bout with his 10-inch reach advantage. He stunned Evans several times with elbows whenever they got close, which created another issue for Evans.
Unable to compete on the outside and getting elbowed on the inside, Evans had nothing left to try. His wrestling was ineffective against Jones.
"He had those sneaky elbows that kept getting in there," Evans said. "I played the wrong game tonight. He came out with those tricky elbows."
Jones will likely face veteran Dan Henderson for the title in his next defense, but no fight will be more emotional than the one Saturday against Evans.
"For who I beat, it was very important to me," Jones said.
In the co-main event, Rory MacDonald continued to show why he's considered a future welterweight champion by manhandling Che Mills. MacDonald took Mills down in both rounds and battered Mills on the ground, before stopping him at 2:20 of the second round.
Mills had no takedown defense and nearly was stopped in the first. Mills was on his back taking a pounding, but he survived to fight a second. He had two cuts on his face and a large hematoma under his eye.
In the second, MacDonald quickly took Mills down again and repeated the first. This time, with Mills turtling, referee Mario Yamasaki stopped it at 2:20 of the second.
"The one thing I lack is experience at the top of the division, and I'm aware of that," MacDonald said. "I need a lot more fights and I need to be more regular [against quality opposition]."
In the only heavyweight bout on the card, Ben Rothwell made a statement with a wild victory over Brendan Schaub. Rothwell ate a combination from Schaub and was backing toward the cage, seemingly in trouble.
But Rothwell fired off a counter left hook that landed on the button and dumped Schaub. Rothwell landed a couple of shots from the top before referee Herb Dean stopped it at 1:10 of the first round.
"I'm not backing down," Rothwell said. "I know my chin can take some shots. I don't want to continue that ... [but] if you stand in front of me, that's going to happen."
The young phenom got the best of the wily veteran in a significant bantamweight bout, as Michael McDonald stopped former World Extreme Cagefighting champion Miguel Torres with a pair of right uppercuts.
The 21-year-old McDonald, who was only nine when Torres made his pro debut in 2000, looked like a veteran and moved much closer to a championship shot with the most significant win of his career.
He hit Torres with a pair of right uppercuts that sent the ex-champion down on his back. McDonald jumped on him and added a few punches from the top before Dean stopped it.
"This was the biggest jump up in competition in my career and easily the biggest win," McDonald said. "He caught me a couple times, but my power and aggression won out. When he went out, I was like 'Go, go, go, go,' and I finished it. I don't know about my next fight, but I'm ready for this level."
Mark Hominick made a strong third-round rally, but it wasn't nearly enough to overcome the beating he took from Eddie Yagin in the first two rounds of their featherweight match.
Yagin took a split decision, winning 29-28 on two cards while Hominick won 29-28 on the third.
In the first round, Yagin dropped Hominick with a jab and then a straight right hand. Hominick seemed hurt and Yagin nearly finished him, landing several bombs from the top before Hominick regained his senses.
In the second, Yagin landed a nice right uppercut that floored Hominick. At the end of the second, Hominick's eyes were swollen badly and he had a large hematoma below and outside of his left eye.
The Canadian showed his toughness in the third, using his boxing to bloody Yagin and control the final round, but it wasn't enough and he dropped his third consecutive bout.
"Hominick is veteran and unbelievably bad ass," Yagin said. "I was hoping I was going to get that fight with Mark and the fight was exactly as I pictured it. I thank UFC for the opportunity. Because Hominick was favored, and a UFC veteran and I'm a rookie UFC guy, I'm pretty happy about this win."
Mark Bocek used repeated takedowns and ground control to pull out a unanimous decision over John Alessio in a lightweight bout that opened the pay-per-view.
Bocek won by scores of 30-27 twice and 29-28. Alessio, a striker who returned to the UFC for the first time in more than five years, wasn't able to put much offense together and spent much of his time fending off Bocek's takedowns.
Bocek was preparing for Matt Wiman when Wiman was injured about two weeks out and replaced by Alessio. Bocek said he did what he could in the short period of time after the change.
"When John took that fight on such short notice, you use what you know," Bocek said. "There's not a lot of time to do research on your opponent and then retrain for it for either guy. Strategy is always a part of it, but deploying the tools I knew from experience work is what got me the win."
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