Let me take you back. The venue was the Oracle Arena, the date was Aug. 7, 2010, and the event was UFC 117. After months of trash talking an invincible champion, to the point that MMA media had serious arguments over whether or not he was playing a character or just plain delusional, Chael Sonnen was about to fight Anderson Silva for the UFC middleweight title.
Watching Chael walk to the octagon, it was hard not to remember the months leading up to the fight. It was hard not to study his face, trying to catch some hint, some read, that might tell us if he really believed the crazy things he had been saying. Did he really believe, for instance, that he was going to beat Silva into retirement? If he did, I assure you, he was the only one. The UFC has never seen a champion as dominant as Silva, so the idea that a man only a year or so removed from being a fringe contender would beat him seemed, bluntly, insane.
The fight is over. The final horn has sounded we've watched all the replays, and we've listened to Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg give their take on the fight. The fighters stand to either side of the referee, while Bruce Buffer, the UFC octagon announcer, gathers the judges' scorecards and prepares to read the official decision. But everyone knows who won. Anyone with a working set of eyes could see that one fighter clearly outperformed the other. The decision should be nothing more than a formality. And yet this moment is one of the most tense moments in the Mixed Martial Arts. Because all too often, it seems the wrong guy wins.
There is currently an aura around the Heavyweight Division in Mixed Martial Arts. The division is generally populated with poorer athletes than other divisions, and the fights tend to involve less skill, yet still there's a certain sense of wonder that's associated with it. While other divisions keep the playing field fair by dividing fighters by size, and we can argue endlessly about the best pound-for-pound fighter, the Heavyweight Division takes a bit of the sporting element away from Mixed Martial Arts and exists to answer one question: Who is the most dangerous unarmed man on the planet? Right now, it's Junior Dos Santos.
Jon Jones faced his stiffest competition yet in Rashad Evans at UFC 145, and walked away with another dominant victory. It was a night designed to showcase some of the UFC's best young talent, and elsewhere on the card, several prospects shined, others couldn't live up to the hype, and some established veterans were upset and will have to go back to the drawing board.
A look at the main card fights:
Jon Jones defeated Rashad Evans via Unanimous Decision
Jones improved to 16-1 in what's becoming a historic MMA career Saturday night by thoroughly outclassing his former teammate and friend, Evans (17-2-1). Jones exploited a nearly ten inch reach advantage throughout the five rounds, landing successfully from the outside with selective straight punches. Whenever Evans managed to close the distance, or when Jones chose to close it himself, he landed vicious elbows that proved to be the most significant shots in the fight.