Quijano: Where friendship ends, a rivalry begins-A A +A
Saturday, April 21, 2012
AS I am writing this column, I’m actually wearing a bib.
My drooling got so bad, the wifey actually started referring to me as “Big Benjo” in reference to my 22-month-old son who likes to do some nasty ground and pound on me, before planting a big, fat wet kiss.
Say what you will, but that’s the kind of effect that Jon “Bones” Jones vs. “Sugar” Rashad Evans has on me. It’s for the UFC light heavyweight championship on UFC 145 today.
The ornery Evans has called Jones a “snake” and the latter has responded by referring to his arch-rival as a “fake”.
Is the name-calling and enmity a sham? I have a feeling this one’s for real, folks.
BACKGROUNDER. To recall, both protagonists were friends and training partners, but things turned sour after Jones reportedly stated in a live interview that he would fight Evans.
The latter claims he felt betrayed as this was a radical departure from a pact they made that they would never fight each other.
If you ask me, friendship pacts have no place in the world of professional prize-fighting as the fans deserve to witness the best fights that could be made.
After all, between professionals, a fight’s just a fight and nothing personal is supposed to come out of it, right?
Be that as it may, all that is water under the bridge now as both fighters are set to engage in a donnybrook today- and if the war of words is a harbinger of the violence to come, then expect a brutal, knockout finish either way.
STYLES. Rashad Evans adopts a smooth, boxing style and intersperses his stand-up game with brutal leg kicks. He’s also equally adept on the ground, with his deep wrestling background and jiu-jitsu black belt proficiency.
His only blemish was a knockout loss to Lyoto Machida, suggesting a seeming vulnerability to Jones’ lethal stand-up game.
Jones has been trumpeted as the prototype of the next generation of mixed martial artists- a multi-skilled athlete combining speed, power, grace and technique in a dangerous, talent hybrid.
He’s undefeated and loves to apply unorthodox methods during fights to continually keep his opponents befuddled.
Like Evans, he also had some problems with Machida in their encounter, but in the second round, he made the proper adjustments to finish off his valiant opponent in a standing guillotine choke, a move rarely applied successfully in MMA.
MY TAKE. Taking a page from Machida’s book, Evans starts off aggressively, and closes the gap with his hand speed.
Several right hands find their mark but Jones counters with some flush front kicks.
At the three-minute mark, Evans attempts to take down Jones but the latter stuffs his forays and lands some knees to Evans’ face. Evans finishes the round strong with some jabs and leg kicks.
In the second round, Jones surprises Evans by taking him down with impunity and proceeds to administer some brutal ground-and- pound.
Taking full advantage of his superior reach and athleticism, Jones feeds Evans with some laconic elbow strikes that land flush, drawing blood.
A weakened Evans manages to scramble up and restart the action, but the damage has been done. Jones pounces again and pins him along the cage.
A sick-looking elbow lands squarely on Evans’ jaw, knocking him out on his feet, and as he sags along the cage, the ref calls a halt to the carnage.
HE SAID IT. “Him buying into his own hype could lead to his own demise. Because the fall will come”—Rashad Evans on Jon Jones (msn.foxsports.com)
LAST ROUND. It’s on my dear mom, Elena M. Quijano, who celebrates her birthday today. We love you mom. Cheers!
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 22, 2012.