Jon Jones easily defended his UFC light heavyweight title, defeating former friend and training partner Rashad Evans in a unanimous decision at Philips Arena on Saturday.
Jones won all three cards, 49-46, 49-46, 50-45 by using a series of elbow shots to stagger Evans throughout the match, notably in the second round. He improved to 16-1. Evans fell to 17-2-1.
"This was definitely my most satisfying victory," Jones said. "I just didn't want to make any mistakes. For who I beat, it was very important for me."
Jones and Evans trained together in New Mexico for more than a year before they had a falling out. Evans sustained a knee injury in Feb. 2011 that kept him from a title bid. Jones, who began training as a MMA fighter in 2007, stepped in and won the title, beating Mauricio Rua in UFC 128. Just 23 years and 242 days old, Jones became become the youngest champion in UFC history.
Because of their friendship, Jones said he wouldn't fight Evans for the title. Evans said he wouldn't fight Jones. But during a TV interview before UFC 128, Jones said he would fight Evans if UFC wanted it.
Evans later he said he felt betrayed and has since described Jones as a fake.
The feud was on, culminating in Saturday's event at Philips Arena that included 15,545 fans, including Hawks players Jerry Stackhouse, Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia.
Neither Jones nor Evans seemed affected by the fact that they knew each other so well and fought each other so many times. Jones, who has won seven consecutive fights, said he's a more confident wrestler and fighter than he was then.
Evans said other than the anxiety of having to talk about his relationship with Jones so many times before the fight, he felt "dialed down, maybe too dialed down."
"I don't think I did a good job,"Evans said. "I didn't do the things I trained to do. A few moments I think I could take advantage of."
Jones came in with an advantage in age (24 to Evans' 32), height (6 feet, 4 inches to Evans' 5-11) and reach ( 84.5 inches to Evans' 74.5). Evans, with a strong wrestling background, needed to either put Jones on the mat or get inside his reach to have a chance to win.
Evans could do neither because he couldn't get past what he called Jones' "sneaky elbows."
"I played the wrong game for that," he said.
Jones said using his elbows was an advantage that he couldn't use when he and Evans trained together. He wasn't allowed.
"He was pretty crafty, pretty tricky," Evans said.
Neither fighter pressed the action in the first round. Jones opened with a right kick to Evans' head that didn't seem to affect him and later jabbed him with an elbow. Evans answered a few minutes later with a powerful right kick that knocked Jones back with less than 20 seconds remaining. Jones finished the round with a left elbow to Evans' head as the horn sounded.
The second round started similarly to the first, until Evans did a bit of showboating after he escaped from the cage as Jones tried to close him down. Jones responded later with a left hand and said the showboating had a different effect than expected.
"It didn't get me going, but I thought 'Man this guy is so smooth'," he said. "He's just a smooth operator."
The two grabbed hands and Jones used his reach advantage to slam his left elbow into Evan's head. He followed that a few seconds later with the same elbow, staggering Evans with less than 2 minutes remaining in the round.
Most Popular Stories
- SEO Traffic Lab Celebrate Wins at Digital Marketing Event 'Internet World 2013' in London
- Social Media Initiatives Should Follow Customers' Lead
- Apple CEO: Offshore Units Not a 'Tax Gimmick'
- U.S. Senate Accuses Apple of Large-scale Tax Avoidance
- UTEP Water Recycling Project Wins Venture Titles
- Marketo Makes a Mint in IPO: Stock Shoots Up More than 50 Percent
- Bieber Booed at Billboard Awards
- Crude Oil Up, Gasoline Down
- Austin Startup Compare Metrics Raises $3.5 Million for Expansion
- Why So Many Top 'Car Guys' Are Actually Women