Grudge Match 2012, otherwsie known as UFC 145, went off on Saturday night. The main attraction was definitely the main event, which was the light heavyweight title fight, between Jon Jones and Rashad Evans. But there was a lot more to the card than just one fight.
As with all UFC cards, there were some very interesting match-ups that yielded some interesting results. The following is a quick re-cap of the action.
Rory MacDonald defeated Che Mills by TKO in the second round. MacDonald is widely regarded as one of the hottest young prospects in MMA. He's been very impressive throughout his short UFC career, but he was facing another fighter in Che Mills, who had also made a splash in his UFC debut. Both fighters are capable of producing exciting finishes, so I was looking forward to seeing how it went. Mills came out hard, landed some nice strikes and looked really aggressive. It's rare to see MacDonald fight someone that looks bigger than him, but Mills is a big welterweight. MacDonald didn't like how the striking started, so he got a take down and quickly passed guard and got side control. He tried to set up a crucifix and get some ground-and-pound going that way, but opted to fo for full mount. He ran out of time, though, and a bloodied Mills survived the round. His face was torn up, but he went back out for the second and MacDonald took him right back down and got control again. This time MacDonald flattened Mills out on his stomach and finished him off with strikes to the head. MacDonald continues to roll in his career and I'd be shocked if he didn't face a pretty high profile opponent in his next outing.
Jon Jones defeated Rashad Evans by unanimous decision and retains the UFC Lightweight Championship. The build-up for this fight had gone on for over a year. Evans and Jones had been teammates at Greg Jackson's MMA in New Mexico, but had supposedly agreed to never fight each other. Jones said in an interview, though, that he'd be willing to fight Evans if it were for a title or if the UFC made it mandatory. Evans got incredibly offended over that, and to make a long story short, left Jackson's, established his own camp and made beating Jones his sole purpose in life. With all the drama, it wasn't hard to get excited to see this fight finally happen. The first round consisted of Jones throwing a lot of leg kicks, while Evans tried to find his way into range without getting hit too hard. Jones definitely landed more strikes, but Evans looked like he might have stunned Jones with a nice head kick late in the round. Jones got his famous elbows working in the second round. He started throwing them in close and landing them regularly. He added kicks and knees later in the round and had the fight completely under control by the end of the second round. Evans looked composed starting the third round and was moving forward early. Jones found his rhythm later in the round, though and finished strong again. Evans would come out looking good each time, only to be shut down later in the round, so I had Jones winning every round up to that point. Jones continued to pick Evans apart for the remaining two rounds. Evans hung in there like a champ, but he just couldn't get anything going other than a few isolated strikes here and there. It wasn't as spectacular as some fans might have hoped, but you have to give Evans credit for being a tough opponent and taking him the distance. Now that this grudge has been settled, it will be interesting to see what comes next for both fighters.