UFC on FOX 2: Early Breakdown of the Event
Next year, the UFC makes their second foray onto the FOX network where a bevy of pivotal battles will take place inside the Octagon.
UFC on FOX 2 takes place at the United Center in Chicago on January 28 and will be headlined by a light heavyweight affair pitting former champion Rashad Evans against top contender Phil Davis.
Also on the card, middleweight standouts Chael Sonnen and Mark Munoz will take each other on while Michael Bisping meets with former title challenger Demian Maia.
All of these battles will decidedly affect their respective divisions for the time being and will create several new prominent figures who can soon be challenging for world titles.
Eddie Wineland vs. Johnny Bedford
Season 14 semifinalist on The Ultimate Fighter Johnny Bedford will be taking on arguably his toughest test to date when he meets with former champion Eddie Wineland.
The heavy hitter has struggled in some of his more recent outings, having gone 0-2 since emerging in the UFC, dropping decisions to Team Alpha Male stars Urijah Faber and Joseph Benavidez.
The wrestling aces were able to strike with the heavy-handed Wineland long enough just before bringing the fight to the ground, which is the same thing that the grappling ace in Bedford will do.
"Brutal" Bedford may find himself in a few precarious moments with the wily Wineland, but in the end Johnny's nonstop pressure and takedowns will be the deciding factor after 15 minutes of action is completed, taking home the decision victory.
Evan Dunham vs. Paul Sass
In a lightweight affair, former contender Evan Dunham will look to rise back up into contention while budding prospect Paul Sass will look to cinch a signature win in the talent-laden 155-pound class.
Though the jiu-jitsu specialist in Sass has been able to keep his "O" intact thanks to his unrelenting submission prowess, Dunham may be just two or three steps ahead of the Brit come this January.
Dunham has the experience and striking skills on his side, which will enable him to keep "Sassangle" at bay with his long jabs and straights. The 23-year-old fighter is not opposed to pulling guard, though Dunham's underrated jiu-jitsu black belt skills should be good enough to keep away from any precarious situations, taking home a decision victory after three rounds of action.
Chris Camozzi vs. Dustin Jacoby
In a middleweight contest, TUF vet Chris Camozzi looks to bounce back from a disappointing loss in his last outing when he takes on the equally motivated Dustin Jacoby.
After running a six-fight win streak on the regional circuit, Jacoby looked flat and unprepared to take on the wrestling stylings of Clifford Starks this October.
In the end, Jacoby lost a very lackluster decision upon his UFC debut and will likely see himself exit the promotion when he takes on the well-rounded Camozzi, who is equally adept both on the feet and on the ground and will likely end the bout in the waning moments of the fight.
Starks had many opportunities to finish off Jacoby, though was not experienced enough in order to recognize when and where he can capitalize on those moments. Camozzi will not, as he takes home a late-rally TKO win.
Cub Swanson vs. George Roop
Former contenders George Roop and Cub Swanson meet in a 145-pound affair where the winner will vault themselves back into the consciousness of the featherweight division while the loser will fall to the bottom of the barrel.
Swanson was last seen in the cage when he took on budding star Ricardo Lamas, who was able to submit the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with an arm-triangle choke in the second round.
Both men have been hot and cold under the Zuffa banner, often alternating wins and losses, though it's been Roop who has been more impressive against top-flight competition, knocking out Chan Sung Jung, Josh Grispi and dropping a contentious split decision to the world-renowned Hatsu Hioki.
Expect Roop to dictate the action on the feet where he will score from a distance thanks to his 6'1" frame and 71-inch reach. Eventually, Roop will score with something big and finish the job via TKO midway through the bout.
Mike Russow vs. John Olav Einemo
In a heavyweight contest, Mike Russow will look to move 4-0 inside the Octagon when he takes on Pride veteran Jon Olav Einemo.
Russow has been able to use his staunching wrestling skills to mull over opponents like Justin McCully and Jon Madsen, though his power and resilience were on display in his battle with then-budding prospect Todd Duffee, knocking out the juggernaut in the third round.
Barring a Hail Mary KO, expect Russow to be at a deficit against Einemo.
The Golden Glory prospect is one of the better jiu-jitsu practitioners on the mat, where Einemo holds the distinction of defeating the highly touted Roger Gracie, an impressive accomplishment to say the least.
Standing 6'6" and wielding an 81-inch reach, Einemo has become more comfortable on his feet, training with kickboxing aces in Semmy Schilt and Gokhan Saki on a regular basis.
Expect Einemo to keep Russow at bay with his reach and though the wrestling ace will be tempted to take the action to the floor, he knows that this fight is best served standing and trading, where he will remain at a deficit, eventually falling victim to a decision defeat.
Cody McKenzie vs. Michael Johnson
Former teammates on Season 12 of The Ultimate Fighter, the wily Cody McKenzie takes on heavy hitter Michael Johnson.
McKenzie has proven that his only saving grace is being able to cinch up his patented guillotine choke, which in the past has stopped 10 opponents straight, however since entering the UFC McKenzie has struggled to find footing.
The "AK Kid" has gone 1-2 and is currently riding a two-fight skid, where Yves Edwards and Vagner Rocha submitted McKenzie with a rear-naked choke, both inside the second round.
Expect Johnson to put the pressure on McKenzie early, keeping up a high-tempo pace and throwing bombs, connecting on a big right that will seal the knockout finish in the second round.
Michael Bisping vs. Demian Maia
In a pivotal 185-pound contest, former title challenger Demian Maia meets with rising contender Michael Bisping.
Maia recently bounced back from a close decision loss to Mark Munoz when he bested fellow countryman Jorge Santiago this October.
Bisping has been ultra-impressive as of late, going undefeated in his last four bouts, recently TKOing the durable Jason "Mayhem" Miller on third-round strikes.
Though the Brit has shown much-improved takedown defense, there's no stopping the grappling, staunching skills of Maia, who has bested even the most touted wrestlers in the past, i.e. Chael Sonnen, who Maia tossed to the canvas and submitted with a triangle choke inside of the first round.
Don't expect a finish here, but an unrelenting Maia will continue to dive for takedowns, controlling Bisping on the ground just long enough where he will take home a decision win.
Chael Sonnen vs. Mark Muñoz
Against these two powerhouse wrestlers, there's no doubting that Munoz is the more well-adept striker of the two, wielding heavy hands that have dispatched the likes of Kendall Grove and C.B. Dollaway in the past.
This battle will be decided by whoever will get the top position as both men deliver a heavy barrage of ground-and-pound blows, though Munoz has looked to be the man with a little more gusto at the end of those punches.
As far as mixed martial arts wrestling is concerned, Sonnen has arguably the best grappling skills in his division while Munoz has displayed some questionable deficiencies.
In the end, it will be Sonnen's size, strength and clinch work that will enable him to bring Munoz to the mat time and time again, where he takes a workmanlike decision victory.
Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis
Rashad Evans has more than earned his shot at the light heavyweight title, but thanks to injuries and other untimely events, the former champion has been sidelined time and time again for his inevitable bout with Jon Jones.
Next, Evans will be taking on budding contender Phil Davis, who has remained undefeated in his career, using his collegiate wrestling skills to stifle all of his opponents in the past.
Notable victories over Alexander Gustafsson, Brian Stann and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira all anchor the impressive resume of Davis, though all men share one undeniable trait: All have shown questionable takedown defense.
Against Evans, a former collegiate wrestler himself who regularly trains with powerhouse Muhammed Lawal and Daniel Cormier, will not find himself at a disadvantage against the relatively inexperienced Davis.
Expect Evans to fend off several takedowns early, blitzing Davis with his speed and powerful hooks, hitting Davis with a hard right in the later stages of the bout to take home the TKO finish before the final bell.