Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Jones is champ, no doubt about it

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ATLANTA-- As Ultimate Fighting Championship superstar Jon Jones walked to the cage on Saturday, the music blaring through a sold-out Phillips Arena said it all: The champ is here.

Jones, coming off a record-setting 2011 as UFC light heavyweight champion, continued to set a standard matched by few in the sport. The 24-year-old made a case for himself as the greatest in the game, beating former champion and ex-training partner Rashad Evans via unanimous decision in the main event of UFC 145 in Atlanta.

"It's definitely my most satisfying victory," said Jones (16-1) following the culmination of a year-long feud.

The backstory is a familiar one to UFC fans: they became friends and training partners when Jones joined Greg Jackson's team in New Mexico in 2009, by which time Evans had already held the light heavyweight title. By 2011, though, both were in the title mix and each insisted they would never face the other.

But when Jones said last March that if UFC president Dana White demanded they meet, "then I guess that's what would have to happen," Evans left Jackson's team, Jones won the title and the battle was on.

It was a struggle at time for Jones, who went five rounds for the first time in his career, but he was able to grind out the title defence.

"I didn't really feel the cleanest on my feet, but who I beat, it was very important to me," said Jones.

Two judges scored the match 49-46, while the third scored it 50-45.

In the co-main event, 22-year-old Kelowna, B.C., native Rory MacDonald (13-1) dominated Che Mills fully and completely, until the beating was mercifully stopped at 2:20 of the second round in their welterweight event.

-- Postmedia News

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 22, 2012 B12

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