Clash of the titans
Jones backed to defend title against Evans
By Jonathan Witty - Twitter: @skybet_Jonathan. Last Updated: 18/04/12 6:05pm
Jon Jones: Will he be celebrating on Saturday?
The stage is set for one of the most intriguing grudge matches in recent years as Jon Jones defends his UFC Light Heavyweight crown against Rashad Evans at UFC 145.
The pair are former team-mates at Jackson's MMA gym in New Mexico and once vowed to never face off inside the Octagon, however things have changed as their war of words has escalated in recent weeks.
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The relationship turned sour after Jones won the title from Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua at UFC 132 when he stepped in to replace the injured Evans - and the war of words began during the post-fight interview.
To detail each public exchange between the pair would be tedious at best, but the jist of the rivalry is based on hazy recollections from both men that they were the superior fighter in training and were always on top.
Since then a number of injuries has caused scheduling issues for both fighters, but the duo have gone unbeaten to remain on collision course, with Jones now the huge 1/5 favourite to retain his belt.
Jones is nothing short of a phenomenon in MMA terms, dominating every opponent he has faced and only suffering one defeat - a disqualification decision following an illegal elbow to Matt Hammill - on his 15-1 professional record.
Only two of his victories have come by decision, but picking a method of victory market is tricky as the 24-year-old has so many tools in his arsenal. Jones has eight KO/TKO wins and five by submission, so backing the champion to finish Evans with strikes at 11/10 could be worth a look.
Considering Evans has an MMA record of 17-1-1, his price of 100/30 looks to be huge value, but he has never faced someone with the physical presence and improvisational skills that make Jones such a difficult opponent.
The co-main event sees Gloucester fighter Che Mills face hotly-tipped youngster Rory MacDonald in the biggest match of his career.
Welterweight Mills earned the 'Knockout of the Night' honour on his UFC debut at UFC 138 last November, but is the big 7/2 outsider against MacDonald (1/5).
The 22-year-old Canadian has won four of his five fights in the UFC, including high-profile victories over Mike Pyle and Nate Diaz.
His only defeat was a narrow loss to reigning interim champion Carlos Condit and his style has drawn comparisons to UFC legend Georges St-Pierre.
With that in mind, he looks as though he could be a future title challenger and Mills' only hope is to keep the bout standing, so he can utilise his striking talents.
Elsewhere on the main card, Brendan Schaub is 1/3 favourite to defeat Ben Rothwell (12/5), Miguel Torres (4/5) faces Michael MacDonald (evens), Mark Hominick (1/6) takes on Eddie Yagin (4/1) and Mark Bocek (2/7) meets John Alessio (11/4).