UFC 135: Jones taps Rampage, Koscheck KOs Hughes, Hunt takes deep breath

Jon Jones dominated Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at UFC 135 and did it in dynamic fashion. Once again the champ displayed a brutal striking style with kicks to the knees, spinning elbows, and long arms that he used effectively, jabbing away and sticking his palm in his opponent’s face. Jackson’s plan to test Jones’s chin didn’t pan out — the former champ was entirely shut out and unable to mount any sort of offense despite holding his own much better than any of Jones’s previous opponents.

Jones’s former teammate Rashad Evans is next in line to challenge for the belt, but at this point it’s hard to imagine anyone posing a serious threat to the young phenom. While Jones has a relatively shallow record (his previous best wins came against a seemingly out of shape Shogun Rua and a possibly overrated Ryan Bader), he faced a healthy, motivated and angry Jackson last night and made the Pride legend look utterly lost and ineffective.

To Rampage’s credit, he looked strong in the clinch, stuffed many of Jones’s shots, avoided trips and even escaped mount, which makes the upcoming match with Evans all the more interesting. While Jones is definitely still the overwhelming favourite, it isn’t hard to believe Evans is the better wrestler and lends credence to rumours that he got the best of Jones during grappling practice.

Also last night, Josh Koscheck returned from a lengthy layoff to knockout Matt Hughes with only a second left to go in the first round. Hughes is widely expected to retire after the loss, though he said he preferred to be “put on a shelf” in the meantime rather than bow out completely just yet. Mark Hunt won his second bout in a row — this after collecting Ls in his previous six matches — in what was an entertaining but slow-paced fight that saw him and Ben Rothwell sucking air and losing steam in Denver’s high altitude.

Full fight results below, as well as a motion gif of a beautiful throw from Tim Boetsch, who handed Canadian Nick Ring his first career loss in the night’s prelims.

Jon Jones def. Quinton Jackson via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 4
Josh Koscheck def. Matt Hughes via TKO (Strikes), Round 1
Mark Hunt def. Ben Rothwell via Unanimous Decision
Nate Diaz def. Takanori Gomi via Submission (Armbar), Round 1
Travis Browne def. Rob Broughton via Unanimous Decision
Anthony Ferguson def. Aaron Riley via TKO (doctor’s stoppage, broken jaw), Round 1
Tim Boetsch def. Nick Ring via Unanimous Decision
Junior Assuncao def. Eddie Yagin via Unanimous Decision
Cole Escovedo def. Takeya Mizugaki via TKO (punches), Round 2
James Te Huna def. Ricardo Romero via KO, Round 1