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RICH HANSEN, MMATORCH COLUMNIST: (6.5)
Probably the lowest score I'll ever give to a UFC PPV with Jon Jones on the card. For context, a 0.0 MMA PPV is still far more enjoyable to me than pretty much anything else, so it's not like I had a bad night or anything. Jon Jones looked ordinary (by his standards). And an ordinary Jon Jones defeats every LHW in the world 100 out of 100 times. Jon Jones just defeated the best opponent he's ever fought against, and he won 24:40 of the 25 minute fight. Since words can't do the man justice, I'll just move on.
The theme of the evening is clearly the youth of the UFC. Jon Jones is a champion at 24 years old. 22 year old Rory MacDonald and 21 year old Michael McDonald will be champions, and both MacDonald and McDonald thrived on the biggest stages of their respective careers.
Rory MacDonald won a glorified squash match in a sham of a co-main event, where a lesser fighter would have nothing to gain, MacDonald showed the world he has a killer instinct. Not many fighters would be able to show a savage streak in the same position. It's distressing that MacDonald has fought in succession Carlos Condit, Nate Diaz, Mike Pyle, and Che Mills. Following that negative regression, his next fight will be against the loser of the Amir Sadollah vs. Jorge Lopez fight.
If Rory MacDonald showed savageness, Michael McDonald showed the other most important skill needed to be come elite: Finishing power. The ability to finish a fight at anytime with one strike separates pretenders from contenders. Make no doubt, McDonald will be a champion in the next few years. But being 21, there's no need to rush the man. Despite his being barely 21, it's demeaning to call him a kid after a performance like that.
As to the rest of the card - Never bet on Brendan Schaub... Someone needs to teach Mark Hominick to avoid getting knocked down. He won the whole fight, but lost the second round due to him falling down, and not being able to knock Eddie Yagin down himself... Travis Browne needs to fight Stipe Miocic, and UFC 146 could use another HW fight.
DAN MOORE, MMATORCH UK CONTRIBUTOR: (7.0)
Back in February every UFC 144 fight delivered. It set the bar high for quality from top to bottom. Sadly, half of the Facebook and FX fighters failed to take notice of this, and proceeded to deliver stinkers. Brimage and Blanco might have the potential to win gymnastic medals at the London 2012 Olympics. But if you've got that much stamina left at the end of a 15 minute fight, that tells me you didn't give it your all. Clements vs. Wisniewski perked me up. Only for Danzig and Escudero to leave me needing more Red Bull, ditto for Njokuani and Makdessi. Thank god for Matt Brown and Stephen Thompson who delivered the best fight of the undercard. Finally then, after five consecutive decisions, the heavyweights duly delivered an expected quick finish from Travis Browne.
Onto the PPV and Bocek smothered his way to another victory. Yagin and Hominick brought it in a very good back and forth battle. Hominick is verging on Dan Hardy territory, having fought for a championship last year, he now finds himself perilously close to being on the Facebook preliminaries for his next fight. What followed propelled my score for this card up several notches. Michael McDonald brutalized Miguel Torres in what we all expected to be a close contest. Then no one saw the Ben Rothwell finish, not us and certainly not Brendan Schaub. Sadly my morale was then zapped watching Che Mills get destroyed. He clearly wasn't ready for a fighter of Rory MacDonalds calibre. It was game over the second it went to the ground. MacDonald confirmed what we already suspected, this kid is going to be champion sooner rather than later. Mills will hopefully be back on the next UK card, having pocketed a hefty cheque for his work tonight.
We've waited a very long time for this main event. It kind of lived up to the hype, but then again it didn't. Whilst it certainly wasn't on a level of say Henderson vs. Rua, it was undoubtedly compelling to watch all the same. I thoroughly enjoyed it, rather like a geek would enjoy World Championship Chess. Jones clearly won decisively, but I can certainly see Evans getting another shot late this year, soon after Henderson takes his turn. It wasn't the best card of the year, not even a likely top 5 contender. To summarize, the undercard pretty much sucked but the main card just about saved the day.
FRANK HYDEN, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR: (9.0)
It was a good night of fights. Michael McDonald taking out Miguel Torres the way he did was really surprising, and it speaks a lot to McDonald and his rising status. I'm not surprised in the least that Rashad Evans got dominated by Jon Jones tonight, but I do give credit to Evans that he was able to take it to a decision. A lot of guys would have been finished, but Evans hung in there. This had that inevitable feeling to it after the first few minutes, where you could just tell that Evans wasn't going to be able to do much of anything offensively. However, going all five rounds speaks to Rashad's toughness.
JASON AMADI, MMATORCH COLUMNIST: (7.5)
This was a one-fight show but the undercard delivered far beyond what people thought it would.
Let's just get the gloomy stuff out of the way first.
Mark Hominick and Miguel Torres were top guys in their divisions a few years ago, but that's no longer the case. Hominick was dominated by Jose Aldo, starched in seven seconds by Chan Sung Jung and battered by Eddie Yagin. Featherweight is getting deeper just as Hominick's ability to take a punch has diminished. Really, the same thing can be said for Miguel Torres and the bantamweight division. There's no shame in being passed up by younger, more skilled athletes. However, they're done competing at the highest level in their weight class; my only concern at his point is that the UFC will drag them along past their expiration dates to prop up their struggling weight divisions.
On a lighter note, there was tons of violence to be seen on FX and the pay-per-view main card. Travis Browne and Rory MacDonald fought overmatched opponents; there's just no way around that. However, they did with them what solid prospects should; they destroyed them.
Ben Rothwell saving his career against Brendan Schaub was fun to watch for sure, but it's possible that he shouldn't be fighting. Maybe Schaub belongs at 205 and away from MMA's heaviest hitters, but this guy can't take too much more damage.
As far as the main event goes, it's time for people to stop talking about Jon Jones' reach and athleticism being unfair advantages; Jones' technique is what people need to be talking about. The UFC Light Heavyweight Champion is improving drastically between fights, and for the most part it's more than today's mixed martial artist can handle. Rashad Evans is one of the greatest light heavyweights ever, and Jones had his way with him.
This was a pretty good show, but a couple of stinkers on the undercard drag the score down a bit.
ERIC HOBAUGH, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR: (7.0)
The undercard on FX had very few exciting moments. I was a bit disappointed by the lackluster performances of some quality names.
Mark Bocek vs. John Alessio was first up on the PPV card and all three rounds were slow moving with neither fighter having a clear advantage. It was a close and boring fight, as Bocek used his superior grappling to grind out a slow moving and unimpressive decision victory.
Mark Hominick vs. Eddie Yagin started slow, but quickly picked up speed. Round one saw Yagin landing several solid punches and one sent Hominick to the canvas and opened more than one cut. Round two started with Yagin using his leg kicks to set up his punches and he landed both with regularity. Hominick failed to use his longer reach to keep Yagin away early in the round. Yagin again landed a big right that dropped Hominick. Hominick would come back at the end of the second round to make it very close. Round three started with both fighters bloody and looking haggard. Both fighters stood in the center of the octagon and traded punches making round three very exciting. Yagin finished the fight with a mask of blood and Hominick’s left eye was nearly closed. Yagin won by split decision and I agreed with his victory. Great fight.
Miguel Torres vs. Michael McDonald ended in devastating fashion with McDonald knocking out Torres at 3:14 of the first round. I thought Torres was the heavy favorite and this excellent knock out by McDonald puts him on the radar at bantamweight. Top notch knock out.
Ben Rothwell vs. Brendan Schuab was one fast and exciting fight. Schaub landed several shots early and I was sure Big Ben was going out. Instead of Rothwell being dropped, he landed one huge shot to Schaub’s temple and knocked him out with one punch. The three big shots Rothwell landed after Schaub was on his back were completely unnecessary. Good first round knockout.
Rory McDonald vs. Che Mills started with Che Mills landing several big shots and ended with McDonald on top for most of round one. McDonald dominated with his take downs and ground and pound. Round two started with more ground and pound and McDonald on top. Mills had several cuts by the middle of the second round and he could do nothing with the ground game of McDonald. Mario Yamasako stopped the fight at 2:20 of the second round. GSP is calling McDonald the next GSP. We may indeed see the young Canadian with the welterweight belt in the very near future. Impressive ground and pound victory.
We have waited so long for the Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans fight, I was just glad it was finally here. Round one was slow with both fighters feeling each other out and trying to find their range. Jones did land a few kicks and Evans landed one nice head kick at the end of the round. I gave round one to Jones. Round two was close, but it went to Jones as well. I thought Rashad could easily have been knocked out by one of the many big shots he took in that round; Jones landed two excellent elbows that had Rashad in trouble, but he was able to continue. Evans landed two substantial shots early in round three. Otherwise, Jones had his way the entire third round. I had him up 3-0 at this point. The fourth round was more of the same. Evans could not solve the mystery of Jones’s reach and unorthodox striking. At this point I am thinking Evans has been shut out and needed a knockout or submission to win this fight. He had lost every round on my score card. After the fifth round I felt as if Jones won the fight 50-45.
No surprises with the decision victory for Jones. This was a good fight, but if I am honest, it was a little disappointing. This was not the most exciting championship fight I have ever seen, but the fight makes me think Jones will be around as the champ for quite a while. He beat Lyoto Machida in his last fight and Evans in this one. Add in Rampage and Shogun, and that's four past champions in his last four fights.
I think Rashad should consider cutting to 185 and he would have the advantage of being the largest in the division. I think he would be an immediate impact at middleweight. Overall, this was a good night of PPV fights.
BRAD WALKER, MMATORCH COLUMNIST: (8.0)
The only problem with this card was the lack of truly competitive fights. Torres got crushed, Evans didn't execute and Schaub looked like a fool. Overall it was defintely entertaining but it lacked the full on luster I hoped to see from a pay per view. Yagin and Hominick put on one hell of a show but aside from that we saw numerous fights that were taken easily by one fighter. i had high hopes for Miguel Torres against MacDonald but GSP has taught his young padawan well. Jon Jones did not look himself in the cage but still earned a win, getting hurt for the first time against Rashad Evans. I did awful in the picks and bets section but the card was still worthy of an 8.0 at first glance Browne gets sub of the night, MacDonald gets KO and Yagin and Hominick get fight. It's worth a watch at the very least.
SHAWN ENNIS, MMATORCH SENIOR COLUMNIST: (7.5)
All the anticipation in the world won't necessarily always lead to an exciting payoff. I enjoyed the story of the main event as Jon Jones pressed Rashad Evans for five rounds, but I do wish that Jones had pounced a couple of times when Rashad was in trouble. It seemed to me that Jones was waiting for Evans to break before going in for the kill, but Evans didn't break. Even when he was hurt, Rashad never wanted out of the fight. And given what little he was able to do against the champion, that's no small thing. Jon Jones as light heavyweight champion at 24 years old is a scary prospect. We hear often that a guy "gets better every time out," but this is no sound bite. Jones is legitimately, noticeably better every time we see him. He's adding different things to his arsenal with each fight, and that's got to be frightening for the rest of the division. I don't see how Dan Henderson's right hand stands a chance.
Other things of note include the continued emergence of Rory MacDonald and Michael McDonald. Rory, the welterweight, was just straight up violent tonight. When Che Mills started landing on the feet, MacDonald took him down and just destroyed him. This was not taking the fight away from your opponent's strength and then smothering him. This was devastation of the highest order. Every young welterweight who thinks he's going to rule the division after GSP is gone has got to think about Rory MacDonald. It's absolutely hyperbolic, but that doesn't mean there's no truth to it. MacDonald is legit. Let's not forget that he came very close to beating Carlos Condit in his second UFC fight. Just ridiculous.
Michael McDonald picked up the biggest win of his career and solidified himself as "in the mix" in the bantamweight division. The list of contenders after Urijah Faber is pretty short, and McDonald is right there.
Travis Browne did what he was supposed to do. Mark Hominick didn't. Also, I don't know if Brendan Schaub's chin is gone for good, but his last two outings don't speak promising things to me concerning his ability to take a punch, and his propensity for firefights does not help.
JAMIE PENICK, MMATORCH EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: (7.0)
This wasn't the greatest UFC event ever, but there was a lot to like about the card. Things didn't pick up until halfway through the FX prelims, but from then on it was a mostly enjoyable night of fights, capped off by one of the best and most talented fighters in the world making a former champion look like he didn't have a thing to threaten him with.
Jon Jones is simply incredible. This was perhaps the least exciting fight we'll see out of him, and yet it was still immensely intriguing to watch. He didn't fight his best fight, he was a little bit off and a little tentative at times, and yet he still outclassed Rashad Evans for almost every minute of their 25-minute bout.
But while he was really fantastic in his own right, others shone as well. Rory MacDonald and Michael McDonald are taking up Jones' mantle as young up and comers, and both are realistically on a path to challenge Jones' place as the youngest UFC Champ in history. MacDonald made his point against a decidedly less-regarded name than the younger McDonald, but was nevertheless really impressive in destroying Che Mills. McDonald knocking out Miguel Torres speaks for itself.
Outside of that, Ben Rothwell and Travis Browne each had standout wins in the heavyweight division. Rothwell survived a bad spot and beat Brendan Schaub to the punch in a firefight, while Browne just decimated Strikeforce import Chad Griggs. It was an entertaining night of fights overall, and now I can't wait to see how Jon Jones handles his next challenger in Dan Henderson.
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