UFC 145 was an action-packed rollercoaster of an event with various twists and turns capped off with Jon Jones continuing his reign of dominance defeating his third-straight ex-champion to retain his light-heavyweight crown.
As I do after every event I will take a look at those who got their hand raised on the business end of this card and who they should be paired with in the future.
In the four years before Jones took the UFC light-heavyweight title from Mauricio “Shogun” Rua the title had been defended on two occasions and got passed around more frequently than any title in the organization but that’s changed.
Jones notched title defense number three last night dominating Rashad Evans for 25 minutes, aside from a few moments where the former champ was able to land significant leather on his chin it was all one-way traffic battering Evans over 25 minutes with a series of elbows, knees and long-ranging strikes.
When the smoke had cleared and the dust had settled Jones had won all but two rounds scored by the three judges’ cage side in Atlanta, Georgia.
His next dance partner is already settled, Jones will meet with former two-divisional Pride Fighting Championships title carrier Dan Henderson who re-joined the UFC following a four-bout stint in Strikeforce notching wins over the likes of Rafael Cavalcante and Fedor Emelianenko while winning their title.
Since he’s been swimming in UFC waters again he defeated former champ Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in the consensus Fight of The Year to earn this shot.
Right now, Jones is on top of the world and all the suns are going to have to line up for Henderson to stop him but this is an unpredictable sport, one power-punch and Jones could be looking up at the lights wondering what happened.
There are packs of talented prospects on the UFC roster right now but if you put a gun to my head and made me pick one that would go on to superstardom, I would pick Rory MacDonald.
MacDonald had a tough task ahead of him in talented Brit Che Mills but he made him look like an amateur, the Tristar product possesses some of the most violent displays of ground-and-pound that I have ever seen blistering Mills on the floor.
When the opening round had concluded the image of Mills being covered in cuts, resembling a car accident victim will stick with me for a long time to come and he was able to put the nail in the coffin in the second frame.
Right now because he is not only beating quality opposition like Che Mills, Mike Pyle and Nate Diaz he is tossing them on their heads and busting up their faces he needs to take a step up and tussle with some top-ten opposition, the winner of Johny Hendricks & Josh Koscheck could be appropriate.
Hendricks and Fitch have both been on the trail towards the top of the division; Hendricks broke through from the middle of the pack with a twelve second knockout of former title-challenger Jon Fitch while Koscheck pushed his winning streak to two since his unsuccessful title bid with a win over Mike Pyle.
Either of these men would test Hendricks and with the winner of Jake Ellenberger and Martin Kampmann probably set to challenge for the title around George St-Pierre’s waist they will need another pairing right away.
Ben Rothwell joined the UFC with a lot of promise, with 36 fights under his belt and tilts with former UFC champs Andrei Arlovski, Ricco Rodriguez and Tim Sylvia on his record he was expected to jump to the front of the 265-pound division.
But that wasn’t the case, in the almost three years that he had been there he had fought three times, losing twice and impressive in zero appearances but he snapped that trend with his first-round knockout of the night performance against Brendan Schaub.
Schaub wasted no time looking to finish Rothwell having him on wobbly legs within the first minute but as the Greg Jackson trained heavyweight went in for the kill recklessly throwing his heavy hands of leather before he was clipped with a left-hand that sent him crashing to the canvass and put his lights out.
Unquestionably this was the best version of Rothwell that we have ever seen and if he can keep in shape he’s only 30-years-old he could be an important member of their heavyweight ranks so pairing him with Travis Browne who capped off the preliminary card with a dominate victory over Chad Griggs.
Browne wasted no time to collect his thirteenth victory landing on the feet early and often to his undersized opponent including a devastating knee to the face before finishing him off with an arm-triangle.
Rothwell would serve as a fantastic heavyweight gatekeeper, Browne is one of their more interesting prospects, sounds like a match made in heaven.
McDonald walked into his fight with former WEC champion Miguel Torres on Saturday night with most skeptical about if he could beat this level of fighter at 21-years-of-age, turns out he can.
McDonald looked comfortable from the get-go on his feet with a talented striker who was looking to play his game throwing his jab around and keeping him off-guard but the young’un was able to get on the inside and find a home for his powerful uppercut, a few shots later and it was good night Irene, to steal a phrase.
The next opponent for McDonald should be Brad Pickett, the talented Brit collected the most impressive win of his career last week dominating Damacio Page to score his first UFC victory after winning twice in UFC’s sister organization WEC.
Pickett always brings action to the cage and so does McDonald, for a violence-packed affair with two high-level strikers, who doesn’t want that?
Eddie Yagin was a strong underdog as he walked to the cage to face former title-challenger Mark Hominick but he proved the odds markers wrong battering Hominick to win the opening to frames on two judges’ score cards.
In the fight of the night Yagin showed off his power in his hands dropping Hominick in the opening frame and continued to do damage to Hominick before he tired out and the Canadian took over punishing his body with his hook to the body but it was too little too late.
When all was said and done it was a bloodbath, both men had fought their hearts out and the 15,000 strong in Philips Arena appreciated it.
Yagin is someone that the UFC want to keep in their back pocket for their inevitable first trip to Hawaii, especially with BJ Penn’s status unknown right now so he needs more good, relevant fights, a pairing with Marcus Brimage would be fair.
Brimage joined the UFC as a part of The Ultimate Fighter series and was a huge underdog to Maximo Blanco but tonight was a good one for risky betters as the American Top Team product edged a split decision over the aggressive Brazilian.
Both men aren’t going to be challenging for titles any time soon but are interesting additions to the growing 145-pound division, pairing them up will be a good move for Joe Silva.
Mark Bocek faced his fellow countrymen John Alessio to open up the pay-per-view proceedings, Alessio had a valiant effort looking to land good shots on the feet but the wrestling and grappling abilities were too much for him.
Bocek denied Alessio his first octagon victory placing him on his back early and often and having phenomenal top control, it might not have been the most crowd-pleasing fight of the night and those in Philips Arena let them know it but he did what he had to do to get the win and that’s all that counts.
Bocek was originally slated to meet Matt Wiman tonight before the injury bug struck so it would make sense to try and match them up again right about now; both men are really good, experienced lightweights and would provide an interesting styles clash.
In closing, Joe Silva, you’re welcome.
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