This is where the real fun begins. For those of you who weren’t all that satisfied with the UFC’s first foray onto network television in November, you will be hard-pressed to find anything to complain about when it comes to UFC on Fox 2: Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis.
Think of the Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos bout as the UFC and Fox giving fans a treat and an opportunity for them to used to one another. The excitement leading up to November 12 was crazy and the feeling in the Honda Center that night was completely electric.
No matter how big of a fan you were, you knew history was being made.
Now that the UFC and Fox have gotten their feet wet, they are set to explode with Evans vs. Davis next month. As of right now, there have been a total of 10 bouts announced. The top three will be televised on the Fox network, with the balance shown on Fox’s sister network, Fuel TV.
All three main card bouts have some sort of title implications. The night will not only offer some great matchups, but will hopefully clear up who will face the UFC’s light-heavyweight champion and middleweight champion. I say "hopefully" because, as we all have come to understand far too well, the fights that are supposed to answer questions can sometimes create more confusion.
Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis
In the main event, we have former UFC light-heavyweight champion Rashad Evans facing the undefeated, four-time Division I All-American from Penn State, “Mr. Wonderful” Phil Davis.
Evans has had his share of trials and tribulations over the past year. Those began with a knee injury that forced him to pull out of his UFC 128 contest with then light-heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
We all know what happened next: Suga’s Team Jackson teammate Jon Jones stepped in and defeated Rua pretty handily. Jones has gone on to defend the title on two occasions.
After defeating Rua and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, the UFC brought Evans into the cage to promote the bout between Evans and Jones. Injuries to both men put a halt to those contests.
Evans has since gone on to defeat Tito Ortiz at UFC 133 in August. With a win over Davis, he should be next in line to face Jones. But this is the UFC and nothing is ever that easy.
Strikeforce light-heavyweight champion Dan Henderson returned to the organization for the third time. With a stunning, and thrilling, victory over the aforementioned Rua, Henderson may have positioned himself for a shot at Jones and the UFC’s 205-lb title.
As far as Davis is concerned, a win over Evans would be very impressive. Would it be enough to catapult him straight into the No. 1 contenders’ slot? More than likely the answer would be no—unless Henderson is unable to slide into the spot opposite Jones, a man 17 years his junior.
Chael Sonnen vs. Mar Munoz
If that isn’t enough, the next two bouts could determine the next two challengers for the UFC’s middleweight championship title, currently held by Anderson “Spider” Silva.
Collegiate wrestler’s former No. 1 contender, and resident bad boy, Chael Sonnen will face off against the hard-hitting Mar Munoz. Sonnen took Silva to the limit at UFC 117 in August of 2010. He dominated Spider for 23 minutes before getting caught in the Hail Mary of triangle chokes with just 110 seconds left in the bout.
Sonnen was suspended for elevated testosterone levels. He returned at UFC 136 this past October and defeated the always tough Brian Stann via arm triangle in the second round. It was assumed he would face Silva in a rematch. Then Silva sustained an injury which will keep him out for some time. Sonnen chose to face Munoz, who has been on quite a tear himself.
"The Filipino Wrecking Machine" has won four straight. He beat Aaron Simpson, C.B. Dollaway, former middleweight title contender Demian Maia and Chris Leben. He is making a serious run at Silva’s title and a win over Sonnen will only strengthen his case. As he closes in on 34 years old, the time is now for Munoz. No one knows that more than he does.
Michael Bisping vs. Maia
Last, but certainly not least, we have everyone’s favorite British fighter Michael Bisping taking on Maia.
“The Count” recently completed his second tour of duty as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter. This time, his adversary was Jason “Mayhem” Miller. The pair met in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter finale on December 3. Bisping took it to Miller, earned a dominating third-round TKO and capturing his fourth win in a row.
As the face of British MMA, Bisping has become one of the most hated men in all of mixed martial arts. Most fans would love nothing more than to see Spider Silva batter and beat Bisping to a pulp. A win over Maia would position him right behind the winner of Sonnen-Munoz. If that man—whoever it should be—gets injured, then Bisping could step in and face Silva sometime this summer.
Maia is the least likely fighter to get another crack at Silva. The two met at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi back in April of last year. That was literally the straw that broke the camel's back (no pun intended) for UFC president Dana White. After watching Silva mock and embarrass Maia for five rounds, White gave the title to Silva’s manager Ed Soares and refused to wrap it around the champion’s waist, which has become customary since Zuffa took over the UFC.
It was very apparent that Maia was not on Silva’s level. I can’t imagine anyone clamoring to see the two of them meet inside the octagon any time soon.
Maia has gone 3-1 since that loss, with all four bouts going to the judge’s scorecards. He has seemingly lost the killer instinct that he brought with him to the UFC. That instinct helped earn him four Submission of the Night bonuses in his first five fights with the organization.
Nevertheless, an impressive win over Bisping—coupled with either Sonnen or Munoz wrestling away the middleweight championship from Silva—could put Maia once again on the precipice of a title shot. Maia and Munoz have met before, with Munoz winning by decision.
It’s a lot of what if’s and some highly unlikely scenarios. Maia will provide Bisping with a stiff test. Should Bisping be successful, there can be no debate on whether or not Bisping’s name should be included with the division’s top contenders.
All of this and we haven’t gone over the undercard—but that’s a different story for a different day. For now, sit back and think just how entertaining these three bouts will be. The best part of it all is that they will be televised on national television at no cost to the fans.