So it turns out that Jon Jones might be the greatest fighter in the world. Or at least, if he isn’t, he will be soon - I can’t think if it’s some X-Men villain or the Borg out of Star Trek that constantly adapt and can’t ever be beaten twice by the same strategy, but the only way to have any success against Jones seems to be showing him something knew, and if you don’t finish him with it he’ll simply assimilate your tactics and smash you in the next round. In years to come, MMA historians might see Saturday’s fight as the singularity where Jones finally absorbed everything the light-heavyweight division has to offer and starts creating his own fighting styles at exponential speed. Much as I dislike him - even during the intro package he managed to come across as impossibly supercilious with his ‘you really want Evans as champ?’ schtick - the hand-fight elbows he threw in the second round were just a thing of magic, and Rashad never looked the same after they landed. Jones is a fighting genius, and I really can’t see the likes of Davis and Gustaffson keeping up, however carefully the UFC might nurture them. Who can beat him? Hendo has as much chance as anybody, but other than that I think it might be up to Velasquez, when Jones finally ventures up to heavyweight.
On the subject of freakish super-athletes, Rory McDonald looked amazing. I’m not sure what kind of Faustian pact Che Mills signed to hurdle into co-main event status as a prelude to getting his face smashed in, but I hope he doesn’t suffer for it - he’s an excellent fighter who was simply outclassed, and I’d like to see him in some fun wars against the lower tiers of the welterweight division. My other notes from the night (yeah I take notes) say simply: ‘Rogan really stoned.’ I could be wrong, but he sort of vacillated between long periods of silence and meandering thoughts about fighters and fighting in general, unlike any normal commentator. I actually really liked listening to him talk about Chuck Liddell for two minutes of the Hominick fight, but when he was talking about an ‘ocean of betrayal on the seas of hatred’ during the Evans fight, shit got weird.
Speaking of Hominick, by the way: there is fucking nothing I hate more than watching a fighter do pretend press-ups after losing a boring decision. You know what, M-Dogg? If you were feeling that spritely, maybe you should have thrown some big shots in the final 30 seconds, instead of just coasting to an uninspiring loss. JC Santana once said to me that he wants his guys to be absolutely exhausted after they fight as long as they win, and Eddie Yagin looked ruined after giving it everything he had. Well done to him.
Joe Silva generally has a good rep, but for my money Matt Brown vs Stephen Thompson was one of the greatest fights he’s ever made. Seeing the karate wunderkind tested by a horrible, come-forward, drag-you-to-the-ground-and-elbow-the-shit-out-of-you brawler was exactly what I wanted to happen, and in the event it told us a lot about where Thompson is. He needs more than a blue belt and his lord and saviour Jesus Christ to protect him on the ground in the welterweight division, and at 29 it’ll be interesting to see if he can manage it. Brown looked great, fought with heart, and I’m always happy to see him tear it up as a welterweight gatekeeper.
Finally, hooray for Ben Rothwell. I’ve heard of ‘taking one to land one,’ but his fight was more like ‘taking fifteen to land a single atomic megapunch.’ He ate everything Brendan Schaub could throw to clip him with an uberleft, and looked in great shape doing it. Will he be a force against a new generation of heavyweights? Probably not, but I’m applauding him anyway. Good show all round, though the less said about my seven-fight mega-parlay the better.