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Monday, 04/16/2012, 11:19 am

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All Former UFC Light-Heavyweight Champions Weigh-In On Jones vs. Evans

Some of the greatest names in the sport’s pantheon have held and fought for the UFC’s 205lbs title since its inception in 1997, including Hall of Famers Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell and iconic fighters including Vitor Belfort, Tito Ortiz and “Rampage” Jackson.

 

The light heavyweight title – which was called the middleweight title until May 2001 – has been contested in some of the biggest and most exciting bouts in the history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship organization:

 

·         Tito Ortiz and  Ken Shamrock went to war for the 205lbs title in their epic November 2002 battle

 

·         The first ever clash of TUF coaches was for the light heavyweight belt, when Chuck Liddell KO’d Randy Couture to ignite his reign as champion

 

·         Liddell’s second fight with Ortiz at UFC 66 was one of the most anticipated – and successful – UFC title fights of all time

 

·         The 205lbs strap was also the first UFC belt to be unified with a PRIDE FC organization title, when “Rampage” Jackson defeated Dan Henderson over five rounds at UFC 75 in London, England, in September 2007.

 

·         The title was on the line in the 2008 Fight of the Year when Forrest Griffin ripped the belt from “Rampage” Jackson.

 

·         Current king Jon Jones became the youngest ever UFC world champion, aged 23, when he hammered “Shogun” Rua in March 2011.

 

Now, this Saturday night in Atlanta, the 205lbs division championship is again on the line in perhaps the most toxic grudge match in years, as Jones defends against former champion and former close friend “Suga” Rashad Evans.

 

“The light heavyweight division has always been a special weight class in the UFC,” said UFC President Dana White, “and the Jon Jones vs Rashad Evans match could be the biggest fight at 205lbs in years. The last time we had a 205lbs title fight with this much emotion and excitement around it was the second Chuck Liddell vs Tito Ortiz fight in December of 2006.

 

“Jon Jones is a freak of nature in mixed martial arts. Here’s a guy who got into the UFC after only a couple of years of training, came right out and started beating top guys using spinning elbows and all these other crazy moves, and he then wins the UFC title at only 23 years old. Jones is already on his way to being one of the best fighters to ever hold the UFC light heavyweight belt, which is phenomenal if you look at the killers who’ve held this belt.

 

“But anyone who counts Rashad Evans out of this fight is out of their mind. Look at what he has done: he won the Ultimate Fighter as a heavyweight, then not only beat – but stopped – champions like Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin, and also beat top contenders like Michael Bisping, “Rampage” Jackson, and Phil Davis.

 

“He’s been in the UFC since 2005. It is 2012 now, and in that time he’s lost once. Rashad Evans is the most underrated fighter in the entire sport. No-one can deny he is one of the best fighters, pound-for-pound in the world.

 

“I’m pumped for Jones v Evans. This is going to be historic fight for the division on April 21.”

 

White isn’t the only one who is excited for the UFC 145 main event. Here, every former holder of the UFC 205lbs title weigh-in on the significance of the UFC 145 main event:

 

“Shogun” Rua, champion from May 8, 2010 to Mar 19, 2011

“They are two very smart, strategic athletes. Both of them fight thinking of their opponent’s strengths and weaknesses and think about how to fight the best possible fight to win. But I think Jon Jones has an advantage, since he is very hard to reach. He is not only long (limbed) but also fast and he can react very quickly, I know this. So, I think it’s going to be Jones’ match. However, let’s not forget Rashad is also very strategic. I believe Rashad will have a good gameplan and I am very interested to see what he will try to do in this fight.”

 

Lyoto Machida, champion from May 23, 2009 to May 8, 2010

“Jones vs Evans is a big fight for the fans and a big fight for the division. It is a very interesting fight; Jones is very unorthodox and is strong in all aspects of the game, but Rashad is a great wrestler and has the hand speed to catch Jones.”

 

Forrest Griffin, champion from Jul 5, 2008 to May 23, 2009

“This is a great fight. I’m glad I’m not fighting Jon Jones anytime soon, but I think Rashad has the right style to give him problems. There are so many emotions between these guys going into the fight, and I know the Atlanta fans will be getting their money’s worth. Jones looks very nasty, but I’m not going to underestimate Rashad. I kinda did that before once…”

 

“Rampage” Jackson, champion from May 26, 2007 to Jul 5, 2008

“Rashad has to go for it right from the start, for real. Rashad can’t play on the outside, you can’t fight no Jon Jones on the outside, believe me. Rashad is fast and can surprise you. He surprised me by faking a takedown and hitting me with a right hand which kinda stunned me. I think he can do that to Jon Jones, but he has to do it right away because the more time you give Jones, the harder it is to set him up for a punch. I think Jon Jones will win, but I think Rashad has a chance.”

 

Chuck Liddell, champion from Apr 16, 2005 to May 26, 2007

“Everyone is different but, I think, for most fighters getting into the Octagon with someone they don’t like is a great motivation in training. Every time you are tired or holding a little back, you think about losing to this guy you can’t stand and it helps you give 100%. That’s how I was with Tito, I couldn’t stand the idea of losing to him and so I trained harder.

 

“I’d love to know who really got the best of it when these guys trained together. You get a feeling for someone when you spar with them. That’s why I was so confident against Tito; I’d beat him up standing, wrestling and at BJJ when we trained together years before out fights and I knew I was in his head because of that. Listening to Rashad, it seems from watching the Primetime show that he feels he’s in Jon’s head a little. He sounds very confident and I think that’s based on experiences in the gym. I’m glad he is confident, because that’s something you have to have against Jones. If you don’t go after Jon you are in for a bad night.”

 

Vitor Belfort, champion from Jan 31, 2004 to Aug 21, 2004

“I think this fight will be great for the sport because Jones and Evans used to train together. That changes things, now they are going to fight against each other. We are in the new era of sport with these athletes like Jon Jones and the techniques they can do. Both guys have a chance to be the winner, and it could come down to who is better on that one night.  I am looking forward to seeing this huge fight.”

 

Randy Couture, two-time champion from Jun 6, 2003 to Jan 31, 2004 and Aug 21, 2004 to Apr 16, 2005

“I think it is going to be very interesting, Rashad has the speed and skills to win. Rashad has to avoid his propensity for standing up and just striking, which he has done in the past. He can’t just strike with Jones; if he does he will lose because Jon has more tools in the toolbox. Rashad has to take Jones down, not just once or twice but every single time he has any opportunity. If Jones is worried about getting taken down, that’s when Rashad can put his hands on him and do some damage. But he has to keep Jon guessing if it is a takedown or a strike that’s coming.

 

“I think Jones is super-talented and he is clearly getting better in each fight. He could turn into a very special type of champion. He poses some very unique problems in the Octagon – and so far no one has solved too many of them. I think this is a huge fight for the division. “Bones” Jones is very hot right now and with the personalities and the back story, it all hypes this up into a very interesting fight.”

 

Tito Ortiz, champion from Apr 14, 2000 to Sep 26, 2003
“Jones is looking very good. But Rashad is fast, man, and once he hurts you he’s on you. I’d like to see Rashad use his wrestling and takedowns and really mix it up. I think it will be a great fight.”

 

Frank Shamrock, inaugural champion from Dec. 21 1997 to Nov. 24, 1999

“This fight has a tremendous story behind it, with it having grown out of a friendship that went sour back when these two were teammates. The drama that’s fueling this is incredible. Fans can expect a fight that, stylistically, will be extremely challenging for Jones to overcome, and he’ll have fits with Rashad’s wrestling if he’s able to put Jon on his back. But ultimately, I see Jones being able to inflict more damage and walk away with the belt still in hand. This will be a fight that will not end as easily and devastatingly as Jones’s others have, but rather one of those moments in his career where he’ll have to pull himself up and battle until the final bell. In the end, this fight will help Jon become a better fighter and a better champion, and will endear himself to fans for years to come.”

 

comments

21 Comments to All Former UFC Light-Heavyweight Champions Weigh-In On Jones vs. Evans

  1. Team buffalo says:

    War rashad!!!!! Jon jones will be doin the stanky leg come Saturday night.

  2. Nuitari X says:

    War period!!!! I have my dislikes about both of these fighters but I respect both of them AS fighters. I love the back story and hype for this fight and I think its gonna be great no matter how it goes down. I’m just looking forward to a great fight as a true fight fan and its also in my birthplace of Atlanta, too bad I don’t live there anymore.

  3. Great article, CANNOT WAIT for fight night

  4. Dustin says:

    too long did not listen

  5. ZC says:

    I have the great pleasure of being at UFC 145 to watch this fight in person. I’m so excited, and I’m hoping Rashad can take Jones off his high horse.

    • cheri says:

      Yes i to had the pleasure of going to c UFC 78 live when evens fought but im all for Jones because i dont like rashad but i respect all fighters!!!!!

  6. Trevor says:

    Only a few people actually answered the question. A bunch of politicians :)

    • CanILive says:

      Right!? No one is choosing.

    • Gomay says:

      F8ck yea i was thinking the same ting like does anyone want to be wrong? Chael flat out said Rashad and i think Forrest too in a video they act like their career will end if they pick incorrect LOL. Then you have to think most of these dudes encountered most of these dudes got their ass beat by one of the two so its better not to comment and root for the guy that beat your ass lol

    • Adam Varley says:

      Yeah I agree that they might not want to pick because they have to actually see these guys around/don’t want to be wrong, but I honestly think this fight is really hard to pick a winner on. I mean the stats and everything suggest going with Jones, but there’s this little part of me that just gets the feeling that Rashad can pull it off. Hope he does, I think it makes for a more interesting division if he can win.

    • Reality says:

      It truly is a fight that can go either way and all the fighters are aware. There is also the possibility that some of these fighters are cool with both fighters and don’t want to offend people they’re cool with.

  7. CW says:

    Jon Jones is going to finish Suga. His reach alone will keep him out of danger for the most part. 2 of the guys up there who have felt Jones wrath were quick to go with him for the win and Machida is still half asleep from being choked. Bones not only best, but finished 3 champs/former champs in one year……soon to be 4. There is a pattern forming here fellas.

  8. Sean says:

    Who the fuck formated this article

  9. Ghood Times says:

    Rashad will be doin the fish face after getting slapped by Jon Jones.

  10. Kevin says:

    You put that Forrest Griffin lost his belt May 23, 2009 and that Machida won the belt on May 23, 2009. Fix it!

  11. Mwill says:

    Fight prediction: Rashad shoots for the double leg and eats a knee and goes out cold in the first round under 2 minutes! All the hype falls short in a devastating Jones victory. Rashad becomes the “gate keeper” of the 205 division after that!

  12. Bjj BB says:

    People keep saying jones will be doing the stanky leg, but thats rashad’s move! Jones is gonna Play rashads song and have him doing the same dance machida had him doing, but with a new better 2012 twist!! Lmmfao!!

  13. ismael says:

    We are officially at FIGHT WEEK for UFC 145 !!! I’m stoked for Jones vs Evans … Ultimately if Evans wants this victory he’s got to make sure he finishes Jones either via knockout or submission n canot let it go.to the judges ! Jones has reach and is crafty n I like Jones for this fight n I believe Jones will b more versitile then Evans. Jon Jones will finish rashad Evans at UFC 145 …remember that is his goal for 2012… Finish every opponent.

  14. James Hernandez says:

    @Bjj BB ya your right about the stanky leg being rashads move but u gotta remember Johnny boy bites rashads moves so Johnny will be doing the stanky leg come Saturday!!

  15. Hjortur Halldorsson says:

    It was a very good point that Chuck made. Rashad acts like he owned Jones in training so he might have a psychological advantage. But nonetheless I’m going with Jones for the W, he’s just so good and I believe he has improved more than Rashad since they stopped being training partners.

    I honestly believe Hendo will be the one to takeout Jones, maybe that’s just wishful thinking, but if not Hendo than maybe a guy like Phil Davis. Phil Davis will be a force to reckon with in this division and I think he will improve GSP style after his loss against Rashad.

    I’m very excited for the fight and hopefully it will life up to the hype and be like Chuck vs Ortiz, instead of something like Rashad vs Rampage.

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