Evans could never mount a consistent attack and lost by judges’ scores of 49-46, 49-46 and 50-45. ESPN.com scored the fight 50-45 for Jones.
The victory ends, or at least tempers, a long-running feud between the former sparring partners.
While Jones (16-1) successfully defended his belt for the third time, he displayed more caution against Evans than in previous title bouts. His cautious approach might be contributed to having faced Evans often in camp.
“I did a lot of things tonight that weren’t planned,” Jones said. “My striking was looking a little elementary. I didn’t want to make mistakes.
“But who I beat was very important to me.
“It felt completely different fighting [Evans]. Tonight I threw a lot of elbows. Those are the things you would never do to a training partner.”
The elbows, especially in the second round, slowed Evans’ attack. They also left swelling above the former light heavyweight champion’s right eye.
After suffering the injury, Evans spent much of the fight protecting that right side of his face. Evans also failed to take Jones to the canvas.
The lone time Jones was on his back came in the fifth round when he pulled guard. But that occurred with seconds remaining in the bout.
“He was pretty crafty and pretty tricky,” Evans said. "He threw some things he didn’t throw in practice, but there were some things he did better in practice than he did tonight.”
Evans suffered just the second loss of his career. He is 17-2-1 overall.
MacDonald finished Mills in impressive fashion
If Rory MacDonald was to be taken seriously as a welterweight contender, he needed to pass a presumed stiff test in Che Mills.
MacDonald passed the test with flying colors.
He dominated Mills in the first round, taking him to the ground quickly and landing hard punches. When the horn sounded to end the round, Mills’ face was bruised, cut and bloody.
By the start of the second, there was little doubt MacDonald would come out victorious.
He quickly took Mills back to the ground and again landed punches. Mills was on his back and had no strategy to reverse his misfortune.
And MacDonald (14-1) wasn’t about to help him find an answer. Once he got Mills’ back, MacDonald aggressively landed punches that forced referee Mario Yamasaki to step in at the 2:20 mark.
“Che was a great opponent,” MacDonald said. “I took this fight very serious. I’m very happy with the way the fight went.”
Mills fell to 14-5 with one no-contest.
Rothwell stops Schaub by TKO in Round 1
During a vicious exchange, Rothwell landed a left hook to the head that rendered Schaub unconscious at 1:10 of the first round.
“I worked very, very hard,” Rothwell said. “I changed my workout. I’m not backing down. I know my chin can take some shots.”
Rothwell improved to 32-8. He is 2-2 inside the Octagon competition.
Schaub, who not long ago was one of the fastest rising heavyweights in the UFC, has dropped two in a row. He is now 8-3 overall.
McDonald knocks out ex-champ Torres
The road back to the top of the bantamweight division became a lot more bumpy for former WEC champion Miguel Torres.
Michael McDonald landed a hard right uppercut in Round 1 that sent Torres to the canvas. Torres was asleep before hitting the ground.
The fight would end at the 3:18 mark, dropping Torres to 40-5.
While Torres’ professional record still looks impressive on paper, it's deceiving: Four of his five losses came in Torres’ seven most recent fights.
“I was paying attention to his range,” McDonald said. “I wanted to make sure he didn’t get his jab off.”
McDonald improves to 15-1. He has won eight fights in a row.
Hominick drops third fight in a row
Former top featherweight contender Mark Hominick continues to struggle to find his groove.
For the second straight fight, Hominick failed to rebound from his UFC 129 unanimous decision loss to champion Jose Aldo.
Eddie Yagin registered knockdowns in the first and second rounds to edge Hominick by split decision.
Two judges scored it 29-28 for Yagin, who improved to 16-5-1. The third judge and ESPN.com had Hominick winning 29-28.
Hominick (20-11) ate right hands from Yagin during most of the bout. And in the first two rounds he was dropped by Yagin right hands.
Despite tasting hard right hands, Hominick found his rhythm in the third and punished Yagin with still left jabs and hard right hands.
But that knockdown in the closely contested second round proved too much for Hominick to overcome.
Bocek takes down Alessio
Mark Bocek is one of the most underrated lightweights in UFC. But he might have turned that around with a unanimous decision over veteran John Alessio.
The fight was scored 30-27, 29-28 and 30-27. ESPN.com had Bocek winning 29-28.
Bocek came into the bout as the superior ground fighter and wasted little time proving it. He took Alessio to the ground early in the first round and punished him with hard left elbows.
But while Bocek had the advantage on the ground, Alessio was better standing. And in the second he caught Bocek repeatedly with left-right combinations.
Bocek (11-4) would get Alessio on the ground briefly, but they stood for most of the round.
Alessio, a former welterweight, slips to 34-15.
Browne submits Griggs in first
Browne improved to 13-0-1 with a first-round submission of Griggs. The loss was just the second for Griggs as a pro.
Browne entered the fight determined to make a statement. He was disappointed after his most recent outing -- a unanimous decision over Rob Broughton.
During that fight at UFC 135 in Denver’s high altitude, Browne was sluggish as he gasped for air. But cardio never became a factor for Browne in Atlanta.
He landed a hard left knee that stunned Griggs. Browne than took his opponent to the ground, where he applied an arm triangle that forced Griggs to tap at 2:29.
“I belong here,” Browne said. “UFC heavyweights, watch out baby.”
Griggs fell to 11-2.
Brown hands Thompson his first pro loss
For the first time in his professional mixed martial arts career, Stephen Thompson suffered a loss.
Veteran Matt Brown used his experience and superior ground skills to punish Thompson for three rounds during their welterweight bout.
The judges scored the fight 30-27, 29-27 and 30-27 for Thompson. ESPN.com scored it 30-27 for Brown.
Brown’s experience would prove especially beneficial in the second round.
With Thompson finally able to get his striking game untracked, a wobbly Brown (14-11) landed a hard right hand. The punch put Thompson on his back.
On the ground, Brown landed an elbow that opened a cut on Thompson’s forehead.
Both fighters were exhausted entering the third, but Brown was able to take Thompson to the ground and punish him.
Brown would get Thompson (6-1) in a mounted triangle, where he began landing several left hands.
Longer Njokuani shuts out Makdessi
All three judges, as well as ESPN.com, scored the fight 30-27.
Njokuani (15-6, one no contest) stunned Makdessi with a hard left hook on the chin. He would utilize a 7½-inch reach advantage to land most of his strikes and stay out of harm’s way.
Makdessi, despite not finding a solution to Njokuani’s reach, continued to press the action throughout the fight. But entering the third round his left leg was showing the damage done from absorbing numerous kicks.
Makdessi’s left leg was badly bruised.
The fight, originally slated for 155 pounds, became a catchweight bout when Makdessi (9-2) came in two pounds over the lightweight limit during Friday’s weigh-ins.
Danzig ignores injured ankle to beat Escudero
The judges scored the fight 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28. ESPN.com scored the fight 30-27 for Danzig.
Danzig controlled the standup with his jab and an occasional left hook. But Escudero nearly finished him in the first round with a right ankle hook.
Danzig, however, escaped the submission attempt and despite swelling to his ankle fought hard in the second and third rounds.
The damaged ankle did not prevent Danzig from applying pressure on Escudero, who could not find a rhythm in any of the three rounds.
Danzig, the Season 6 "Ultimate Fighter" winner at welterweight, improved to 21-9-1. Escudero, a TUF Season 8 lightweight champion, slipped to 18-5.
Clements punishes Wisniewski with strikes
Chris Clements landed hard strikes in the second and third rounds to earn a split decision in his UFC debut over fellow welterweight Keith Wisniewski.
Clements persuaded two judges who gave him scores of 29-28 and 30-27. The third judge favored Wisniewski 29-28. ESPN.com scored the fight for Clements 29-28.
After a close first round, in which Clements (11-4) was taken to the ground, he picked up his striking attack in the second and third. He hit Wisniewski with hard punches, elbows and spinning back kicks.
Wisniewski (28-14-1) absorbed the punishment and fought hard, but the accumulation of strikes began to wear him down late in the third round.
Brimage holds off Blanco
Despite tasting several front kicks in the second round, Marcus Brimage refused to back down in the third and secured a split decision over Maximo Blanco in a featherweight bout.
Two judges scored the fight for Brimage 30-27 and 29-28, while the third had it 29-28 for Blanco. ESPN.com scored it for Brimage 29-28.
Brimage (5-1) was the more aggressive fighter in Round 1, landing hard punches. But after tasting several front kicks on the chin, he fought more cautiously in the second.
Seemingly aware that the third round would likely decide the outcome, Brimage picked up the pace. He remained somewhat cautious of Blanco’s kicks, but took the risks and came forward.
Blanco, who made his featherweight debut after competing previously at lightweight, falls to 8-4-1 with one no-contest. He has lost two fights in a row.