This is it! The final event of the season for our fight camp. UFC 145 takes place in Atlanta, Georgia on Saturday, April 21. The action starts at 6:30 pm est on Facebook, followed by the FX prelims at 8:00 pm est, and finally the main card on ppv at 10:00 pm est. You might be wondering why there are so many Canadians on this card, well that’s because this event was originally set to take place in Montreal, Quebec. Anyhow… Jon Jones! Rashad Evans! and heeeeeere weeeeeee GO!!!
Jon Jones (15-1) vs Rashad Evans (17-1-1)
Jones started off looking like an incredible prospect, but last year, he almost instantly catapulted himself to legendary status. He became the youngest champion in UFC history by defeating Mauricio Rua, and has subsequently defended his title Lyoto Machida, and Quinton Jackson. Not only did he best these superstars of the sport, he finished them by either knockout or submission. The most notable advantage Jones possesses over any of his opponents, is an 84″ reach, the longest in the UFC regardless of weight class. He’s got striking, wrestling, Jiu Jitsu, speed, power, youth – you name it, this guy is the whole package.
Evans made a huge impact on the sport, going 5-0 before winning TUF 2 and going on to become the UFC light heavyweight champion. Evans was a former training partner of Jones, but as he sat on the bench nursing his injuries, Jones was rising to the top. Of course, it soon came time for these two to meet in the octagon, and that’s when the feud began. Evans left Greg Jackson’s camp and founded the Blackzillians, where he has been training ever since, in order to solve the puzzle that is Jon Jones and regain his former glory. Evans is a very quick and agile fighter, he packs serious knockout power in his strikes, and has a solid collegiate wrestling background.
This should be a great fight, former friends and training partners forced to do battle for the ultimate prize, and much like in the movie Highlander, there can be only! (champion). Getting past that reach of Jones has proven to be a very difficult feat to accomplish, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s Evans. Rashad will really need to stay on his toes here, utilizing his superior footwork and technical boxing to keep Jones guessing with a lot of fakes. The real key to victory for Evans will be mixing up his strikes and takedowns, much like GSP does, keeping his opponent guessing the whole time. The problem is that Jones often dominates the fight, imposing his will on his opponents by controlling the distance and positioning. If Evans is able to get Jones to the ground, his chances of winning the fight increase dramatically. The problem is, Jones has that huge reach advantage, so it will be tough for Evans to get really deep on a double leg takedown. I see Jones having more opportunities to score points because of his reach advantage, and Evans failing to reap much reward for his efforts to get inside. This fight could easily end by knockout or submission if either man shows a momentary lapse of concentration, but being the most important fight of both their lives, I expect to see a huge display of heart on both sides. In the end, Jones will win by unanimous decision, and the beef will officially be squashed (until they meet again).
Winner: Jon Jones
Rory MacDonald (12-1) vs Che Mills (14-4 with 1 NC)
At just 22 years of age, Rory MacDonald has managed to post up a very impressive fight record. After submitting Mike Guymon in his UFC debut, MacDonald was completely dominating Carlos Condit in his next fight, but suffered a TKO loss with only 7 seconds remaining in the bout. How did MacDonald bounce back from his first career loss? He controlled Nate Diaz for 15 minutes in Toronto, and he knocked out the veteran Mike Pyle in the very 1st round. He’s young, he’s hungry, and most importantly, he’s a very well rounded finisher.
Mills got his stripes on the UK circuit, with most of his fights ending in the 1st round, including two wins over Marius Zaromskis. He appeared on season 9 of TUF, but was eliminated in the first round by eventual tournament winner James Wilks. Just 5 months ago, Mills got the call from the UFC and he made an impressive debut, knocking out Chris Cope in less than a minute. Mills is a very accurate and powerful puncher, most dangerous near the very start of the fight, but his ground game isn’t quite as good as his striking.
This fight seemed like kind of an odd choice for MacDonald, as he has already beaten some top fighters in the division, and Mills doesn’t really have a big name stateside. Although MacDonald knows how to handle himself standing, he will always be in jeopardy against a guy as dangerous as Mills. That’s why I think MacDonald will be looking to get this fight to the ground, where he is incredibly effective from the top position with both strikes and submissions. I’m sure that MacDonald has been working extensively on his wrestling with GSP, and although he isn’t the best wrestler in the division, I think it will be enough to put Mills on his back. If MacDonald secures the top position, that’s all she wrote folks… Take your pick, TKO or submission, but I’m betting it will happen in the very first round.
Winner: Rory MacDonald
Brendan Schaub (8-2) vs Ben Rothwell (31-8)
Schaub is a former football player, turned MMA fighter. He was a finalist on TUF 10, but he was crushed by Roy Nelson in the finale. Schaub went on a bit of a tear after that, with 4 straight victories, including wins over Gabriel Gonzaga and Mirko Filipovic. Then the impossible happened, Shaub was decimated by a barrage of punches from Big Nog in Brazil. Now Schaub is back on the comeback trail, bringing size, speed, athleticism, and bad intentions into the cage with him on Saturday night.
Rothwell has been punching people in the face and choking them unconscious for over a decade. He has a long and storied career, most notably going undefeated in the IFL at 9-0, with wins over: Krzysztof Soszynski, Roy Nelson, Travis Fulton, and Ricco Rodriguez. When the UFC brought him into the fold, they didn’t give him any easy fights, and Rothwell has gone 1-2 with losses to Cain Velasquez, and Mark Hunt. Rothwell brings size, strength, and experience with him into the cage every time he fights… but he is not a very well conditioned athlete.
I like Schaub in this fight, and I’ll tell you why. I think the two losses on his record were great learning experiences, and he won’t allow his opponents to dictate the pace of the fight ever again. Schaub is about 20 pounds lighter than Rothwell, but he is much faster and more explosive with his striking, and if we’re talking about athleticism here, these guys are polar opposites. Rothwell is solid, and he will be ready to capitalize on any mistakes made by Schaub in this fight, but ultimately it all depends on which Schaub shows up. Assuming they both compete to the best of their ability, Schaub wins by knockout in the first half of the fight.
Winner: Brendan Schaub
Miguel Torres (40-4) vs Michael McDonald (14-1)
Torres used to be considered one of the pound-for-pound best fighters in the world, but it looks like time has taken it’s toll, and Torres has slowed down somewhat since his glory days. He’s still a top fighter in the division, dropping only one fight to Demetrius Johnson in the UFC, but he has completely revamped his style. He was always known for setting an incredible pace, and outworking his opponents with his relentless Muay Thai striking abilities. Now Torres seems to conserve his energy, throwing only one or two strikes at a time, and focusing mostly on protecting himself. Torres is very well rounded, and he has a deep well of experience to draw from.
10 years his junior, Michael McDonald is very similar to Torres, but just at a much earlier point in his career. He tore through the local circuits, and became the TPF champion before being picked up by the WEC, and subsequently transferred over to the UFC. So far, he has gone 3-0 in the UFC, winning two “of the night” awards. Be it knockouts or submissions, McDonald is a threat in every aspect of the fight.
This is a case of old lion meets young lion, both of these guys can do it all, but Torres really does have several advantages over his opponent. Most notably, Torres will have a huge 6 inch reach advantage, and he’s also the more technical fighter in terms of boxing and BJJ. The best thing McDonald has going for him in this fight is his wrestling ability, which is superior to Torres’, but he will need to get close enough to use it first. Demetrius Johnson put on an impressive display of takedowns and survival in the top position over Torres, but I doubt that McDonald will be able to replicate that performance. I don’t see either fighter getting knocked out or submitted in this fight, but I see Torres out-pointing McDonald for a very close decision victory, in what should be an action packed fight, both standing and on the ground.
Winner: Miguel Torres
Mark Hominick (20-10) vs Eddie Yagin (15-5-1)
Hominick has long been one of the best fighters to come out of Canada, honing his skills under the late great Shawn Tompkins. He has fought for many titles over his career, and is a multiple time champion is several organizations. Hominick put on an inspirational battle against Jose Aldo in Toronto, giving Aldo a run for his money in the final round, still fighting with a massive hematoma on his head. After the passing of his coach, Hominick really fell out of stride in his next fight, rushing in and being knocked out by Chan-Sung Jung 7 seconds into the 1st round. Rarely will you ever see Hominick in a boring fight, he’s a very capable submission fighter, but he does his best work standing up.
Yagin is of filipino descent, but he’s been tearing it up on the Hawaiian circuit for years. He won titles in 2 promotions before being called up to the big show late last year. Yagin lost his debut fight to Junior Assuncao, and now he is facing an even tougher opponent in Hominick. Yagin is as well rounded as it gets, with 5 submissions, knockouts, and decisions, but he doesn’t really excel in any one area.
I see Hominick being superior in every aspect of the fight, and he’s a huge favorite to win. Clearly, this is Hominick’s fight to lose, and barring a similar incident to his fight with Jung, I see Hominick taking this fight with his technical striking prowess. Although, I’m not really convinced of a finish here, because anytime you get knocked out in 7 seconds, you’re bound to ramp up the defense a bit. I think Hominick will be content to pick his opponent apart for a clear decision win, but if he clips him with something, expect Hominick to move in for the kill.
Winner: Mark Hominick
Mark Bocek (10-4) vs John Alessio (34-14)
Bocek is another top level Canadian stud, with a career stretching back almost 10 years. He trained in BJJ under Rickson, and Renzo Gracie, becoming one of the first Canadian black belts, and it shows. Although he has been somewhat hit-and-miss over his career, Bocek has put his exceptional submission skills on display many times, including an impressive mounted triangle over the talented Dustin Hazelett. His striking skills have never been up to par for this level of competition, but he does have some punching power, which is best used to set up his takedowns.
Alessio goes back even further, with almost 15 years worth of experience in the sport. This is a guy who’s seen it all, fought in almost every major promotion, and competed at the highest levels. Alessio even fought for the UFC welterweight title against Pat Miletich back in 2000, but he was submitted by armbar in the 2nd round. Even though he was defeated by almost every top level opponent he has faced, he has found much success against the mid tier guys. Alessio is a well rounded fighter with good conditioning and a big heart, but he just isn’t dominant enough any any one area to be a contender.
It used to be that well rounded fighters had the advantage, but now that almost everyone is well rounded, it’s the specialists that have been coming out on top. Bocek truly is a submission specialist, and he will have a distinct advantage over Alessio on the ground. Alessio will be throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Bocek, trying to keep the fight standing at all costs. It will all be for naught though, eventually Bocek will drag him to the ground, and after he secures the top position, he will finish Alessio by submission.
Reminder: Don’t forget to make your picks, for this, our final event of the season. Good luck boys.