On Saturday, January 28, Rashad ‘Suga’ Evans (12-1-1) will take on Herculean wrestler Phil ‘Mr. Wonderful’ Davis (9-0), the winner likely getting a shot at light heavyweight champion Jon ‘Bones’ Jones sometime this summer.
Evans has been pining for a title shot for a long while, but injuries have kept him out of the Octagon from may, 2010 till August, 2011. He was due to meet then champ Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua in 2011, but thanks to the injury, Bones stepped in and stripped Rua clean. Fuelling this potential title fight between Suga and Bones is a running war that began when they were training partners in Greg Jackson’s camp. Word on the street is that Bones owned Suga, who at that time was one of Jackson’s top prospects.
Phil Davis is no pushover, so if Evans is looking past the up-and-comer, he could get schooled. However, Davis, a stellar wrestler with mid-level striking, is only where Evans was a few years ago. The questions here are: Has Davis’ striking improved enough to threaten Evans? Can Evans’ great wrestling stymie Davis’ superb wrestling and athleticism? If the fight goes on, will Davis have stamina?
Despite Suga being a whining complainer whose fight promotion often crosses the line from hard-hitting fun to bellyaching, most fans want him to win so he can finally meet Bones and get that show over with. Look for Evans to win a close decision, unless Davis is able to pull off a submission on the ground through sheer strength of limb.
Another headlining fight has perennial chin-flapper Chael Sonnen (26-11-1) fighting the nasally Michael ‘The Count’ Bisping (22-3) in a middleweight fight. Sonnen was originally scheduled to fight Mark ‘The Filipino Wrecking Machine’ Munoz, who fell to injury. Bisping, who had been set to fight Demien Maia, was swapped in, creating a fight just as intriguing. Maia is now fighting a 7-0 Chris Weidman.
The winner between Sonnen and Bisping should get dibs at a match against champion Anderson Silva, who also is recovering from injuries. There are rumours that Silva may retire. In that scenario, the winner of Sonnen-Bispiing could meet the winner of Maia-Weidman for the title.
Sonnen and Bisping are the two most hated fighters in the UFC, a phenomenon due almost entirely to their gab---they like to do a lot of their talking outside the Octagon rather than inside, which irks fellow fighters and fans. And even though they think they are Muhammad Ali when they listen to their own voices on stage, they are nothing more than cheap facsimiles.
Bisping is a fast, well-rounded fighter who is fun to watch, but the Brit has zero power, as was evidenced in his fight with powerhouse Dan Henderson, who made Bisping look 15 years old. Sonnen is perhaps the best applied wrestler in the 185 pound class, and brutalizes opponents with ground and pound, but has limited stand-up skills and has been submitted by Jeremy Horn, Paulo Filho, Demien Maia and Anderson Silva. You can bet Bisping will be honing his submission game, and that Sonnen will be practicing his defence.
It will be hard for Bisping to win on the ground. Sonnen is simply too strong and technical at wrestling to be anywhere but on top if the fight goes to the mat. Bisping must keep the fight standing at all costs. He does have impressive speed and movement, and can spring up quickly if taken down, so that is possible. Smart money will be on Sonnen, via ground and pound unanimous decision.