The UFC returns to Fox with their sophomore effort, UFC on Fox 2, featuring a tripleheader bursting with title implications. Former light heavyweight champion "Suga" Rashad Evans takes on undefeated upstart Phil "Mr. Wonderful" Davis to determine the number-one contender in the main event, live from the United Center in Chicago, Illinois on January 28th, 2012.
A victor in six of his last seven contests, Evans (16-1-1) appears to be a man on a mission after blitzing through Tito Ortiz at UFC 133. With notable wins over Rampage Jackson, Forrest Griffin, and Chuck Liddell, as well as four "Fight Night" bonuses to his credit, the 32-year-old is guaranteed a shot at friend-turned-rival Jon Jones, the reigning UFC light heavyweight champion, should he emerge victorious on Saturday.
"Win, lose or draw, I'm going to put on a good show," Evans recently said. "It's come to a point where I like being booed now. I've been getting booed so much, if people didn't boo me, it'd be weird. Boo me, that means you love me."
Davis (9-0), a former Division I standout, returns to action for the first time in 10 months, following a lengthy recovery from knee injury. The step-up in competition may appear daunting, but the 27-year-old has proven up to the task with victories over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Alexander Gustafsson, and Brian Stann.
"After I beat Rashad on the 28th," Davis declared. "They won't have anything to do for me other than fight the champion."
Also featured on the Fox telecast, middleweight contenders Chael Sonnen and Michael Bisping battle for the right to challenge UFC luminary Anderson Silva, and grappling wizard Demian Maia faces unbeaten up-and-comer Chris Weidman.
Sonnen (26-11-1) cruises into the bout after a hard push for a rematch with Silva failed to come to fruition due to several injury complications. The self-proclaimed "people's champion" last fought at UFC 136, where he thoroughly dominated rising contender Brian Stann en route to a second-round arm triangle choke.
"I am going to knock the teeth out of this snot nosed Brit who calls himself royalty, who calls himself a Count," Sonnen wasted no time in declaring. "I am MMA royalty and America will tune into the Chael Sonnen show next Saturday on Fox."
Bisping (22-3), meanwhile, leaps into the spotlight after punctuating his stint on "The Ultimate Fighter 14" by crushing Jason "Mayhem" Miller in December. The one-sided victory pushed the 32-year-old's win streak to four straight. Four years into his middleweight run, Bisping has now racked up notable wins over Jorge Rivera, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Dan Miller, Denis Kang and Chris Leben.
"Chael Sonnen's best weapon is his mouth, and that's something that's going to be absolutely useless in this fight," Bisping shot back. "I see a very bright future for Chael Sonnen as a used car salesman, very soon.
"He's been kicked out of politics, kicked out of real estate, and I am going to kick him out of the middleweight division."
A Matt Serra protégé and former NCAA standout wrestler, Weidman (7-0) has thus far lived up to his billing as one of MMA's top prospects. The 27-year-old is a perfect 3-0 inside the UFC, with dominating victories over Alessio Sakara, Jesse Bongfeldt and Tom Lawlor. Notably, "All-American" won "Submission of the Night" honors for his first-round standing guillotine choke finish of Bongfeldt at UFC 131.
Across the cage, top-10 middleweight Maia (15-3) hopes to continue a push into title contention after winning three of his last four contests, capped by a unanimous decision victory against former Sengoku champion Jorge Santiago at UFC 136. With eight submission wins and four "Submission of Night" bonuses to his credit, the 34-year-old maintains a reputation as one of MMA's foremost grappling virtuosos.
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UFC on Fox 2 fight card:
Preliminary card (Fuel TV):
Bantamweight: Johnny Bedford vs. Mitch Gagnon
Lightweight: Evan Dunham vs. Nik Lentz
Heavyweight: John Olav Einemo vs. Mike Russow
Lightweight: Michael Johnson vs. Shane Roller
Featherweight: George Roop vs. Cub Swanson
Featherweight: Charles Oliveira vs. Eric Wisely
Middleweight: Chris Camozzi vs. Dustin Jacoby
Heavyweight: Lavar Johnson vs. Joey Beltran