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UFC 145: A look at the long-awaited card up next

Jon Jones and Rashad Evans finally settle differences in Atlanta

Image

Jack Dempsey / AP

Jon Jones, left, of Endicott, N.Y., kneels in the center of the rink after submitting Rampage Jackson, right, of Irvine, Calif., during the fourth round of their UFC light heavyweight title bout, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011, in Denver.

UFC 145

How much of a chance do you give Rashad Evans to upset Jon Jones at UFC 145?
No way Jones will lose — 29.3%
Evans will win — 25.7%
It would take a miracle — 25.2%
It's a toss-up — 19.8%

This poll is closed, see Full Results »

Note: This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

By the time April 21 rolls around, UFC 145 will come in as one of the most heavily promoted events in the company’s history.

Main event rivals Jon Jones (15-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC) and Rashad Evans (17-1-1 MMA, 12-1-1 UFC) have already spent as much time making the media rounds as they have training ahead of the event scheduled for Atlanta’s Philips Arena.

There’s plenty of time to do so, as UFC 145 will be the Las Vegas-based promotion’s first pay-per-view event in eight weeks. March 2012 registers as the first month since February 2009 that the UFC hasn’t put on a pay-per-view offering.

It picked a worthwhile time to take a break, as a long-awaited meeting between Jones and Evans warrants an expanded amount of attention. The UFC is billing Jones vs. Evans as the sport’s most prominent feud since Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz nearly a decade ago.

Evans and Jones were close friends and training partners before turning into hated enemies last year. Jones won the light heavyweight championship belt and said he would be open to fighting Evans, which set the former champion off.

The two spent the better part of a year bickering about their falling out and who was responsible. They’ve moved on from that now but have a new point of contention.

Jones and Evans give differing accounts of what happened when they trained together at Greg Jackson’s gym in Albuquerque, N.M. Evans, 32, claims he regularly got the best of the 24-year-old phenom.

“It’s going to be the hardest fight of his career,” Evans said at a recent press conference. “He already knows that coming into this fight because he’s competed against me before. He’s already felt what I had.”

Jones maintains that Evans never threatened him in practice. Even if Evans did, according to Jones, it would be irrelevant now.

“I’m a much different fighter than the one he trained with. I hope he is ready to see and feel that difference,” Jones said. “Some are saying I will have trouble against someone who knows me so well. They are wrong. Wait until they see what I do on April 21.”

Check below for an introduction to the 11 bouts scheduled in support of Jones vs. Evans at UFC 145.

Welterweight Bout: Rory MacDonald (12-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) vs. Che Mills (14-4 MMA, 1-0 UFC) The UFC will use the co-main event to showcase the 22-year-old MacDonald, who many consider the top prospect in all of mixed martial arts.

Heavyweight Bout: Brendan Schaub (9-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) vs. Ben Rothwell (31-8 MMA, 1-2 UFC) Both fighters were at the wrong end of two of the biggest heavyweight upsets of last year, as Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira knocked out Schaub at UFC 134 and Mark Hunt took a unanimous decision over Rothwell at UFC 135.

Featherweight Bout: Mark Hominick (20-10 MMA, 3-2 UFC) vs. Eddie Yagin (15-5-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) Hominick, who challenged 145-pound champion Jose Aldo a year ago, looks to keep from further tumbling down the divisional rankings after two consecutive losses.

Lightweight Bout: Mark Bocek (10-4 MMA, 6-4 UFC) vs. Matt Wiman (14-6 MMA, 8-4 UFC) It’s a remarkably even matchup between two fighters who are perennially just outside of the top of the 155-pound division.

Bantamweight Bout: Miguel Torres (39-4 MMA, 2-1 UFC) vs. Michael McDonald (14-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) This contest between a former champion, Torres, and an up-and-coming star, McDonald, could determine the next 135-pound top contender.

Click to enlarge photo

Travis Browne throws a punch at Stefan Struve during UFC 130 Saturday, May 28, 2011 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Brown won by knockout.

Heavyweight Bout: Travis Browne (12-0-1 MMA, 3-0-1 UFC) vs. Chad Griggs (11-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) One of the most explosive bouts on the card, as both fighters have knockout power in both hands and have gone undefeated the past five years.

Welterweight Bout: Matt Brown (13-11 MMA, 6-5 UFC) vs. Stephen Thompson (6-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) Thompson, a former kickboxing champion, gets his wish to fight only 150 miles away from of his hometown of Simpsonville, S.C., after pulling off one of the knockouts of the year with a head kick at UFC 143.

Lightweight Bout: John Makdessi (9-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) vs. Anthony Njokuani (15-6 MMA, 1-2 UFC) Both men are coming off of disappointing losses, as Dennis Hallman submitted Makdessi at UFC 140 and Danny Castillo fought his way to a decision win over Njokuani at UFC 141.

Lightweight Bout: Mac Danzig (20-9-1 MMA, 4-5 UFC) vs. Efrain Escudero (18-4 MMA, 3-3 UFC) Two former champions of “The Ultimate Fighter” clash here. They’re both coming off of losses and need a victory to improve their job security.

Welterweight Bout: Keith Wisniewski (28-13-1 MMA, 0-2 UFC) vs. Chris Clements (10-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC) Wisniewski must be wary of Clements’ knockout power. Clements needs to watch out for Wisniewski’s submissions.

Bantamweight Bout: Marcus Brimage (4-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) vs. Maximo Blanco (8-3-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) Brimage is the other regional fighter on the card, as “The Ultimate Fighter 13” veteran grew up 150 miles west in Birmingham, Ala.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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