I hate being that blogger who jumps on a bandwagon after one fight but I think I am about to do that. For months it has been a given that Jon Jones would easily handle Rashad Evans. Yet after UFC 133 I have to ask whether we have all underestimated Sugar Rashad Evans’ chances against Bones Jones?
I have never been a fan of Evans so this isn’t coming from the point of view of an Evans’ fan boy. But, if I were to offer objective analysis I would have to say that Rashad Evans is being way overlooked by the MMA media and UFC fans. I am not basing this opinion off of his fairly one-sided destruction of Tito Ortiz at UFC 133, but using it as more of a reminder than anything else.
What I saw at UFC 133 was the best Rashad Evans ever. He was faster, he was in better shape, and more confident in his striking than I have seen since he moved up to fights against elite light heavyweights in the UFC. I don’t know how anyone in their right minds could tell me that it is a given Jon Jones will walk all over the fighter I saw tear Tito Ortiz up on Saturday night.
Okay maybe I am making too much off of a fight against an aging UFC light heavyweight who only had two and a half weeks to train for the fight. Fine, let’s take that bout out of the equation. A quick look back at Rashad’s record and history in the UFC tells a story of a guy that is a winner. I don’t care who it is, no fighter in his division should be a 5-to-1 favorite over Evans, nobody. Evans is 16-1-1, with eight of his wins coming by knockout or submission. For a guy that has a rep for dancing to decision wins, a 50% finishing rate in wins isn’t all that bad is it?
Take away the numbers and just look at the wins themselves. Evans may be one of the smartest tactical fighters in UFC history. He has only made one tactical mistake when it comes to game planning and that was against Lyoto Machida. He beat some of the best at their best. He beat Ortiz, Chuck Liddell, and Forrest Griffin in the stand up and defeated Rampage on the ground. I would not be shocked, as a matter of a fact I would expect him to stand up with Jon Jones. Expect the unexpected with Sugar Rashad.
If there is one thing that I love about Evans it is his ability to get into his opponent’s heads. I am not even talking about his fantastic pre-fight hype, maybe the best in all of the UFC. I am talking about during the fight. His speed and technique has frustrated all of his opponents but one, even some of the most disciplined in MMA history. I have no doubt that he will come up with some kind of a game plan that will frustrate Bones Jones due to his experience and Jones’ lack of maturity as a fighter. Jones may come into the fight with the perfect game plan, but chances are he will abandon that during the fight and make a tactical mistake, as most of Evans’ victims do.
Look, I am not trying to tell you that Rashad Evans is the next coming of Chuck Liddell. All I am trying to say is that the guy deserves a lot more respect than he is getting by the MMA community, especially in a fight against Bones Jones. We know he’ll be the favorite against Rampage if Jackson pulls off the upset. But until he flattens Bones with a hard right or swift knee, he will continue to be disrespected by the MMA community at large.
And quite frankly, I don’t think he’d want it anyway else.
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