When the UFC made its debut on Fox late last year, it was met with mixed reviews. The main card, aired only one fight, the very short Heavyweight title fight that saw challenger Junior Dos Santos defeat Cain Velasquez. With only one minute of fighting, and 59 minutes of…not fighting, the UFC looked to improve on their debut by showing three huge fights on Saturday night.
Many wrestling fans may have been familiar with this fight, as WWE champion CM Punk was linked closely to UFC on Fox 2. The champion managed to have the night off from a WWE live event, and was planning on walking top contender Chael Sonnen to the cage, as the two are both very outspoken, and are good friends. However the higher-ups in the WWE nixed the idea, not wanting to cross promote with the UFC, in a move that could have only been good for the company.
The main event featured former Light Heavyweight champion Rashad Evans against undefeated “Mr. Wonderful” Phil Davis. This fight was unique in the fact that Evans has been considered the number one contender to the Light Heavyweight title (held by former teammate Jon Jones) for a year and a half. Due to injury to Evans, Jones took his place last spring, winning the title, and spoiling their friendship. A later injury to Jones forced that matchup to be delayed, and led to this bout.
The bout was completely one sided, with Rashad Evans dominating the entirety of the five rounds. Evans wasn’t able to finish Davis due to the reach advantage of Davis, but was often able to control Davis against the cage, dictate the tempo, and worked well from the turtle position. Davis was once again exposed to have lackluster striking and poor footwork, but he’s still very early in his career with plenty of time to develop. Rashad Evans however, has been penciled in as current champion Jon Jones’ opponent for UFC 145 in Atlanta on April 21st.
The co-main event was set to be the aforementioned Chael Sonnen, who was once only minutes away from defeating Anderson Silva for the title, against Mark Munoz. An injury forced Munoz out, but allowed for an upgrade, as the internationally loathed Michael Bisping stepped in as a replacement, in the number one contenders bout.
This was a ridiculously close fight, with the viewership torn over who pulled off the victory. Michael Bisping displayed his impressive evolution by working his clinch game, and stopping several Sonnen takedown attempts. A close battle on the feet swayed in the favor of Sonnen when he was finally able to close the distance and take Bisping down, and control him from the top. Sonnen, like Evans, is now the number 1 contender.
Undefeated Chris Weidman was a late replacement against another former title challenger in Demian Maia, and was able to pull out a victory. Weidman and Maia had some sloppy kickboxing that favored the more athletic Weidman, but didn’t favor the fans. It was that sloppy. Weidman’s sluggish game could be attributed to the 33 pounds he had to cut in 10 days, a dangerous tradition he has become too familiar with.
THE VIRTUOUS ONE’S VIEWPOINTS
How did I see things for UFC on Fox 2? It could have been better, and it could have been worse. You had two slow paced fights sandwiching a heart filled battle between Chael Sonnen and Michael Bisping. I can’t imagine the ratings will be any better than the debut card, but that remains to be seen.
I don’t see a scenario where Rashad Evans beats Jon Jones. Rashad Evans is elite, but Jon Jones is something beyond elite. Phil Davis’ reach gave Evans issues. Not only is Jones’ reach more substantial, but he knows how to use it better. To me, Rashad’s best chance would be to pull the same stunt he did against Rampage Jackson. Quite frankly, nobody wants to see that, but I can’t imagine Evans caring much. Thus far, Jon Jones has plowed through the division, with his only speed bumps being one close round to Stephan Bonnar early in his career. After Evans loses, I could see him returning to Greg Jackson’s camp.
Chael Sonnen, just when he gets in my good graces, he goes to the post fight press conference and says Anderson Silva is faking injuries to stay away from him. It’s been noted by UFC President Dana White that this is absolutely not the case. Sonnen is a good enough fighter that he shouldn’t have to use statements like that to gain steam going into that situation. The guy has some of the absolute best wrestling for MMA in the history of the sport, and can hype a fight, but outlandish statements like that make no sense to me.
Michael Bisping had to win over some fans. Bisping has evolved greatly during his run in the UFC, and if he was given a five round fight, could have possibly pulled off the victory. So much criticism is aimed towards British fighters for their lack of wrestling and jiu jitsu ability, but Bisping shut those people up on Saturday night. I was very impressed by the former Ultimate Fighter Winner.
As I said before, Phil Davis was exposed. He has a bright future, but until his footwork improves, he’s going to have a very difficult time striking with the likes of Rampage Jackson,Dan Henderson, Lyoto Machida, Jon Jones, or Shogun Rua, who are all better strikers than Rashad Evans. If I were Davis, I’d be hoping for a matchup against Forrest Griffin, or the recently on fire Stephan Bonnar.
Chris Weidman and Mike Russow are both 4-0 in the UFC now, and will probably be stepping up in competition. That type of record doesn’t come easy in the UFC, but a Michael Bisping or Cheick Kongo would likely throw a twist in the saga of either of these two fighters.
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Category: Mixed Martial Arts.