On April 21, the talking between UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and challenger Rashad Evans will come to an end.

The two former teammates will let their fighting do the talking at UFC 145 from the Philips Arena in Atlanta. After Jones had won the title from Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 128, Evans left Jackson’s MMA, knowing he would likely face Jones in his career sooner than later. Ever since then, the two have gone back and forth, creating one of the biggest rivalries in UFC history. Once “Suga” defeated Phil Davis in January, Evans earned the right to earn a shot to regain the belt he once held.

Jones and Evans will headline a stacked night of fights that will air live on pay-per-view. Not only will fans get the opportunity to watch six main card bouts, but also an additional six preliminary fights that air on both FX and Facebook.

The MMA Corner team of Gregory Chase, Garrett Derr, and Corey Adams will breakdown the main event fights, and give their thoughts on who will get wins on Saturday night.

LW: John Alessio (34-14) vs. Mark Bocek (10-4)

Derr: It’s hard to believe after all these years, John Alessio has yet to capture a win inside the UFC Octagon. However, if there’s ever a time to rise to the occasion it’s now as he’ll be squaring off with fellow lightweight, Mark Bocek.

Surprisingly enough, Alessio is on the best stretch of his career having won 10 of his last 11 bouts. When action begins, I believe the hype will end as fans and those in attendance can expect a somewhat lackluster showdown.

While both Alessio and Bocek are on the upswing of their career, neither has recorded a finish in their last two bouts.

Bocek (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

When all is said and done, I expect Alessio to put it all on the table but to come up short in the judges’ scorecards. Bocek’s fighting style and pace will be too much allowing him to leave the Octagon with a win via unanimous decision.

Chase: I agree with Garrett, I think Bocek will walk away with a win from this one. Bocek has been facing better competition, and despite being less experienced than Alessio, he is more likely to control this fight. He has great submissions, but so does Alessio.

Alessio is no walk in the park though, and if this fight ends with a TKO, it will probably come from Alessio. Both are coming in off of wins, but Alessio is on a three-fight win streak, whereas Bocek has been up and down for the past couple years.

The biggest thing for me is that this will be Alessio’s “debut” in the UFC. He did fight in 2006, but aside from his run in the WEC, he has not been on the big stage since. The UFC return may prove to be mentally weighing on him, and Bocek is no stranger to the big lights. While this may seem like an insignificant part, I think the experience truly goes to Bocek, even though Alessio has the same number of losses than Bocek has total fights.

I see Bocek winning by decision as well.

Adams: I was really wanting to pick an upset on this card, but I just can’t pull the trigger in this match-up. Alessio is stepping up to take this fight in place of Matt Wiman, who was forced to pull out due to injury. “The Natural” has faced high quality competition in the past, but hasn’t fought in a large promotion since 2008, as my panelists stated.

Bocek is a guy that stands in the crowd among the lightweight division, and doesn’t get much publicity. However, the Canadian is a tough competitor. His four losses have come against names like Edgar, Danzig, Miller, and Henderson, all of which are former, current, or future champions. When you think of Alessio, his name doesn’t fall into this category, making Bocek the favorite in this fight.

Bocek will take home a decision victory, controlling Alessio throughout the entire three rounds.

FW: Mark Hominick (20-10) vs. Eddie Yagin (15-5-1)

Chase: This is a great style fight since both fighters are well-rounded and tough guys. This fight though is crucial for Hominick. He is not on the chopping block yet, and a loss to Yagin wouldn’t help his case. In his last fight with Chan Sung Jung, many feel that he got careless right off the jump and threw a wild punch. That wild punch was uncharacteristic, but Hominick still made the mistake of not covering up and paid for it.

Hominick (Sherdog)

While many feel this was a fluke, it still brought upon a two-fight losing streak for the Canadian. I don’t see Yagin taking this fight. Yagin is a well-rounded fighter, who can end it anywhere, but a determined and re-focused Hominick should prove to be the victor in this fight. Hominick is a smart fighter and knows that he made a mistake. He will have learned from that night and now will look to work his way back up.

Both men are coming off of losses, but it is Hominick that I think you will see a proving statement from. Yagin has yet to clinch a win inside the Octagon, and I think this step up in competition will be very challenging for him. I will predict Hominick wins this one via decision.

Adams: I agree with Gregory in this featherweight bout that both men have great styles that will make for a solid fight, but Hominick will have the edge. “The Machine” is a perfect example of what a fighter should be: likeable, humble, and of course has a ton of talent. Hominick is only 29-years-old with 30 fights under his belt. That, along with his constant movement and striking ability, will be the keys to him winning the fight.

Yagin isn’t someone where fans in Atlanta are going to say, “Yeah, I know who ‘The Filipino Phenom’ is!” But Yagin has been in any kind of situation possible while in the cage, and will give Hominick a tough time. This will be his second fight in the UFC, and after a loss, it’s a little surprising to see him matched up with a very talented fighter in Hominick.

Eddie Yagin (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

My first instinct was to pick Hominick by knockout, but Yagin will hang in there for 15 minutes, yet lose to the Canadian by decision.

Derr: I think both guys are on point with their picks. However, I don’t think this fight will be even close as Yagin is being thrown to the dogs..

When we begin to examine Hominick, I believe we’ll see a man on a mission as his back is against the wall, having lost two consecutive fights. Hominick is coming off a loss that I consider a fluke and fought Jose Aldo just a fight before that.

When action begins on Saturday, it’ll be Hominick who sets the pace of the fight from the opening bell. I believe his quickness, footwork, and boxing will overwhelm the Yagin, allowing him to win via unanimous decision. That’s if, Yagin survives 15 minutes.

BW: Michael McDonald (14-1) vs. Miguel Torres (40-4)

Adams: This fight, out of any on the entire card, may be the best of the night once the event wraps up. Torres is rebounding off recent controversy that almost got him booted from the UFC, and will face no easy task in his return against 21-year-old future star McDonald.

Torres (R) throws a right hand (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

Torres’s record stands for itself. A total of 40 wins in his 12 years of fighting, with 23 of those coming by way of submission. The veteran was once considered the baddest 135-pounder on the planet, but after a couple of losses, Torres will need to win this fight to prove he still has what it takes to make another run at the title.

If you’ve never seen “Mayday” McDonald fight, you’ve been missing out on a kid who is capable of being a champion one day. The question is, will he be able to take out someone who is a decade older than him? McDonald hasn’t faced a top 10 bantamweight yet, and has barely edged middle of the road opponents. It will be interesting to see how the experience disadvantage will affect the 21-year-old.

For Torres to earn a win, he will need to be the Torres of his WEC title days. Staying active on his feet will be a key, as McDonald will likely charge at him during the fight on occasions. McDonald does have wins by submission in his career (four), but isn’t his strong point. Torres would be better suited taking McDonald to the ground to work for a submission.

This fight won’t be the feature of the card, but will be one not to miss. After going back and forth between the two, my instinct tells me to pick Torres in this match-up. Torres won’t be able to finish the tough kid, but will earn a decision victory due to his experience in the cage.

Derr: I like what Corey had to say in regards to the excitement and anticipation this bout brings. However, when the rubber meets the road, I believe McDonald to be the one who will have his hand raised. Here’s why.

We need to remember one important aspect to this fight—Torres isn’t close to the fighter he once was. After beginning his career with an eye-opening 37-1 record, Torres has been 3-3.

Not only that, but Torres seems to have lost his finishing factor which allowed him to become one of the most dangerous submission artists in the world. With that being said, Torres certainly has the skill-set to win via decision.

McDonald (L) looks for the finish (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

But, in my opinion, it’s McDonald’s time to shine. He hasn’t lost in nearly three years and brings knockout power to the table. If McDonald can stuff the takedown and demonstrate his normal striking, he should have no problem capturing the biggest win of his career through the judge’s scorecards.

Chase: This fight could go either way in my opinion, and could very well end in a finish. This fight is polarizing though. If it is a KO victory, I would have to go with McDonald. If it ends in a submission, then I side with Torres. A decision would likely go to Torres as well, but both men are still hungry for a title shot.

Torres has always been a fighter to me that is hard to put away and always comes to fight. That said, McDonald is a powerful striker and has had a lot of success. His win streak is strong, and his confidence will be up in this fight.

While he does have power in his hands, it is worthy to note that once he got to the bigger stages (WEC and UFC) he has only had one KO victory. One can argue that the higher competition give him more trouble in regards to finishing.

I have to side with Torres winning this bout. I think that if this goes to a decision, Torres will take it. Can McDonald knockout Torres? Absolutely, but Torres is his toughest opponent to date and that challenge will show.

HW: Ben Rothwell (31-8) vs. Brendan Schaub (8-2)

Chase: I think this fight has the potential to be knockout of the night, or the most boring. I side more with the first thought though. Both men come to fight, and if it doesn’t go into deeper waters, this fight should end in a big way. Rothwell did not look so great against Hunt, in one of the most sluggish and sloppy heavyweight fights in a long time, but is still a guy who pushes forward. He has power in his hands, and has the experience over Schaub.

Schaub (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Schaub though, I think will take this fight. I think he will be faster, with better cardio. He will pair that with his own knockout power. Both men have succumbed to KO’s before, and the fight could go to either man if it ends in such a fashion. I think that Schaub wins by TKO, but give credit and recognition to Rothwell’s own knockout ability. This will not be an easy fight for either, and one I see going to whomever lands the first punch flush.

Derr: I would also agree with Chase that Rothwell and Schaub bring knockout power and certainly have what it takes to walk out with some extra cash at the end of the night.

However, unfortunately for Rothwell, I feel that he’s at the end of the road as he doesn’t have the conditioning skills to compete with the upper echelon of the UFC’s heavyweight division.

Rothwell (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

I think this bout ends fairly early as Schaub will control action from the get-go. Even if Rothwell escapes the first frame, he’ll have an extremely difficult time staying up to par with Schaub’s conditioning.

First-round finish for Schaub in this one.

Adams: My fellow panelists have laid this fight out perfectly. If this one doesn’t end in the first round, I’ll be shocked. If the bout does go longer than five minutes, the advantage will go to Schaub being the younger fighter, but I don’t think it goes past the opening round.

Schaub was on the losing end of a “Big Nog” knockout in Brazil on Aug. 27, but won’t let that happen against Rothwell. With a record of 1-2 in the UFC, it does appear Rothwell’s career is going downhill. Schaub will be too fast, too elusive, and too athletic to handle on the feet, and will catch Rothwell.

Rothwell has lost four of his eight bouts by knockout, and will suffer a TKO loss to Schaub in Atlanta.

WW: Rory MacDonald (12-1) vs. Che Mills (14-4)

Derr: A lot of fans and media members were surprised when it was announced Rory MacDonald would be meeting Che Mills in his return to the Octagon at UFC 145.

MacDonald (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

I must admit, I was one of those media members as I feel that MacDonald is on a whole other level compared to the skillset of Mills. With that being said, Mills has the strength and punching power to catch MacDonald off guard.

But, if MacDonald is anything like we’ve seen in the past, he should have no problem blowing through yet another welterweight opponent on his fast track to the top. I expect to see MacDonald a bit rusty in the opening round but settle down as round two begins.

From there, we see the old “Ares” en route to yet another impressive finish via submission.

Adams: I was also one of those that was surprised to hear this match-up for MacDonald, who is on the verge of being a top 10 welterweight, against a guy with only 40 seconds of Octagon experience.

Mills (Sherdog)

MacDonald has a very bright future ahead of him. At only 22-years-old, “Ares” has fought quality opponents in his UFC career, including Carlos Condit and Nate Diaz. It is odd to see MacDonald vs. Mills, but MacDonald is going to go out to compete no matter who is opposite of him.

Mills has a puncher’s chance in this fight to maybe catch MacDonald coming in, but he’ll be outmatched on Saturday. MacDonald will finish this one early, by either knockout or submission.

Chase: Corey said it well, since MacDonald could easily have been given higher-ranked fighters and not many people would complain. While Mills’ quick TKO of Chris Cope was impressive, he has never faced anyone remotely as good as MacDonald, and never on a bigger stage. He is the co-man event, and I do not think he is ready for this fight.

Physically he will be ready, but mentally it will be trouble. MacDonald deserves some of the hype he is getting, and some is excess I think, but he is a big problem for Mills. MacDonald beating Diaz the way he did and beating Pyle are testaments to the potential this kid has.

I agree with my fellow panelists and will officially and confidently say that MacDonald should walk away from this fight with a finish in the first round.

LHW Championship: Jon Jones (15-1) vs. Rashad Evans (17-1-1)

Adams: Aside from the camp controversy and trash talking going on between the two, this is still a great match-up of fighting styles that should not be overlooked with all the hype.

Evans (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Everyone and their grandmother knows who Jon Jones is by now. The UFC hasn’t seen a physical specimen like Jones come into the promotion since Anderson Silva. The scary thing is though is that “Bones” is only 24-years-old.

As in every fight he is in, Jones will have the length advantage, and will have to use that to his advantage against Evans like he did against “Rampage” Jackson. The champion can fight wherever the fight goes, standing, clinching against the cage, or grappling, so pick your poison “Suga”.

Evans is a former champion, but as of late, hasn’t looked like his old self. Other than his TKO win over Tito Ortiz in August of 2011, Evans hasn’t finished an opponent since 2008. If you look back to his early UFC days, “Suga” knocked out some of the best in the world including Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin. Recently, he’s gone to more decisions, which I believe could be a factor in this fight.

Jones (R) throws a spinning elbow (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

It’s hard to say what Evans will have to do to dethrone the champion. If he decides to wrestle his opponent, he could get submitted while Jones is on his back. If “Suga” decides to stand and trade, Jones’s striking is much more explosive than Evans’. Evans does have a chance of knocking out Jones, but I don’t see how he can close the distance enough to establish his jab.

Obviously from my thoughts, I’m going with Jones to win on Saturday night. “Bones” will constantly stay active on his feet, throw many faints, and catch Evans in round two. He may not finish him right away, but after brutal ground and pound, will force the referee the stop the fight.

Chase: I agree with Corey that Rashad doesn’t have as many tools as Jones to finish/win this fight. Rashad does have a speed advantage in my opinion, and paired with his knockout power, we could see Jones’ chin tested. Jones will want to use that reach, but I think this fight could go many different ways.

It is hard to tell if Jones is looking to make a statement and try to finish this fight early. You can bet Evans would like to, but we don’t know if Jones wants to go out there and finish him hard and early. Jones may want to sit back and analyze him, ala Silva, and just be more cautious.

Jones (Phil Lambert/The MMA Corner)

Motivationally, both men are fueled by their opponent. If this makes their game plans sloppy or makes them veer off the path of what they do best is yet to be seen. The desire to finish their opponent may play a factor in how they react if they get one another in danger. If Evans gets the chance to swarm Jones, he may or may not blow out his arm/cardio in an emotional rush to make his statement, and vice versa. While this may have no effect whatsoever, it is still good to look at where they both will be mentally, which can make you lose before the fight starts.

If Rashad wins this fight, it will be by knockout or a decision. However, I don’t see the fight ending either way. I predict Jones will win this fight, and will either submit Evans or TKO him. I will say Jones will finish him later in the first round, or midway through the second.

Derr: Great points by both Corey and Gregory but I’m going to be the minority here. Call me crazy but I believe Jones still has some things to do before he can be categorized as “unbeatable”. Here’s why.

Jones certainly has an impressive track record but has defeated overrated opponents in Ryan Bader and a washed up Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Of course Jones defeated Mauricio “Shogun” Rua for UFC gold but an injury also played its toll in that bout. In his bout again Lyoto Machida, Jones was exposed.

Evans (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

While Jones found a way to win like he always does, he’ll need to be on the top of his game to walk out of Atlanta with gold wrapped around his waist.

If there’s anyone who knows how to defeat Jones it’s Evans who spent a large portion of his career training with “Bones”.

Therefore, I expect this bout to be finished no sooner than the fourth round as even Rampage found a way to battle it out with Jones. Evans won’t want to stand with the lengthier opponent in Jones as his tools on his feet largely outmatch his own.

If Evans can put Jones on his back and control the pace of the bout, I believe he has a great chance of lasting the full 25 minutes. Here, I believe we see Evans win back his long-awaited title and prove to the world that he is the top dog in the 205-pound weight division.

Top photo: Jon Jones (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Corey Adams
Staff Writer

Corey Adams didn't grow up watching mixed martial arts, considering the UFC was just getting started the year he was born, but in his teenage years, witnessed the action and has fallen in love with the sport. Corey was the first to join The MMA Corner staff -- other than founder Josh Davis -- and has been writing for the site ever since. Corey attends Austin Peay State University, where he majors in Communications with a focus on journalism. When he's not covering MMA, Corey is still writing on many sports with both local and campus newspapers. His favorite sports teams are the Atlanta Braves and Denver Broncos. Follow him on Twitter at the link below.

  • Nosgoth1979

    This was a great read, and I completely agree that Jones vs. Evans could play out in a variety of different ways. I hope it ends up being a war since I’m having my first ever UFC party at my house tonight. I just picked up a new Sony flat-screen and the technicians from my employer, Dish, just got done upgrading the rest of my equipment to high definition. I’ve been browsing through all the HD channels I get, and seeing this crystal-clear picture has me that much more psyched for the fights. I don’t know why I didn’t upgrade sooner! Especially since Dish still has had the HD Free for Life promotion going on for a long time now, and with it I’ll never have to pay for the additional HD content.

    • Corey Adams

      Awesome! Hope you enjoy the fights! Check back on The MMA Corner for a full recap of tonight’s event.