UFC on FOX 2: Evans vs. Davis will take place Saturday at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois as the UFC delivers its second official offering of its multi-year deal with FOX. Chris Weidman (7-0) will face Demian Maia (14-3) on short notice to open the night’s broadcast with what will likely develop into a ground battle between wrestler and submission artist. Two title shots will also be on the line as “Sugar” Rashad Evans (16-1-1) squares off with “Mr. Wonderful” Phil Davis (8-0) in the main event and “The Count” Michael Bisping (22-3) replaces an injured “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Mark Munoz (10-2) against Chael Sonnen (25-11-1) in the co-main. With a potential title shot up for grabs, Bisping jumped at the chance to bow out of his previously scheduled bout with Demian Maia and face the Team Quest fighter. However, Chael Sonnen has made no secret of the fact that he will let nothing stand between him and the “12 lbs. of gold” around “The Spider” Anderson Silva’s (29-4) waist.
At First Glance: The first impression of this fight is that Michael Bisping is a gambling man for certain. He stepped out of a fight against Demian Maia, a fighter whose suspect takedown abilities made him a definitive underdog against the Brit, into a match with one of the most aggressive and decorated wrestlers in the division. He traded a near certain win that might have earned him a title shot for a long shot chance at a guaranteed title shot. For Sonnen, the change in opponents is a double-edged sword. On one hand, he no longer has to deal with a fellow ground fighter who has already beaten him on the wrestling mat. However, on the other hand, he is facing an opponent on short notice with an entirely different set of skills and failings.
In Depth: For Michael Bisping, this gamble will likely come back to bite him. When it comes to his advantages over Sonnen, he is a day late and a dollar short to coin the phrase. Bisping is a better striker than Sonnen, but neither Brian Stann (11-4) nor Anderson Silva were able to cause Sonnen so much as a moment’s pause on the feet. Bisping also has a vastly underrated submission game, but it still falls short of the kind of world class grappling needed to take advantage of the openings presented by Sonnen’s aggressive ground attack. The opposite is true for Chael Sonnen. While he lacks in striking and submissions, his clinch work and positional control will make those statistics moot. As far as his strengths are concerned, Sonnen’s aggressive takedowns and punishing ground-and-pound are more than enough to negate Bisping’s solid defensive grappling and takedown defense. When it’s all said and done, Bisping is betting it all on black to either score the upset and jump to the front of the line or fail miserably and spend another six years climbing the ladder.
Wild Card: Where Bisping does have a noticeable advantage is in size. While both men enjoyed careers at 205lbs. Bisping has the beefier frame and the more powerful build. It likely won’t be enough for him to fight off Sonnen’s attacks on strength alone, but it should allow him to muscle himself out of a few precarious positions and it may even allow him to force a submission if “The Count” manages to hit a reversal on the mat.
The Verdict: The long and short of this fight is that it is a bad match for Bisping. Though his totally different style from Mark Munoz means that Chael will have to develop a game plan on the fly, the outspoken former middleweight title contender has a skill set that is tailor made to hand the Brit a one way ticket to the bottom of the title contender heap. Sonnen via TKO (Strikes), Round 3