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‘UFC on FOX 2: Evans vs Davis’ Aftermath–The Cutting Room Floor

Totally illegal in NCAA competition. (Photo: UFC.com)

“It’s usually not like this.” With that text I found myself apologizing to a UFC-virgin for the first time in a long time. My friend had just told me that she was at home watching the the show on FOX, without any provocation from me mind you. “This is that fighting you like, right???”. I assured her that the event had yet to capture the energy and excitement indicative of the sport. “I’m going back and forth between this and figure skating,” she replied. I can’t really say I blame her, either.

While we expected plenty of grappling in the bouts themselves, the wrestling theme seemed to carry on throughout the production at large. The usually-charismatic Jon Jones wrestled with his notes, relying on them not just for in-depth fight analysis but for simple things like his thoughts on fighting Rashad. The opening act wrestled with fatigue, leading to a performance as exhausting for fans as it was for the competitors in the cage. And once again, FOX wrestled with an underwhelming broadcast that left the most exciting action behind in the prelims.

Enough belly aching about the show itself, let’s take a look at what made such a promising event so forgettable for the masses.

The first fight of the FOX broadcast was a dreadful match between Demian Maia and Chris Weidman. The All-American wrestler showed little fear of Maia’s proven BJJ, taking him down numerous times throughout the bout. Though he went down without much trouble, Maia impressively scrambled back to his feet more often than not. His striking, however, left much to be desired. The Brazilian showcased limited weapons in the stand-up, though neither man went for the kill, even when they had the stamina to do so. Weidman’s cardio woes are easily forgiven; he took this fight on eleven-days notice following Munoz’s departure from the card. Maia’s lethargy is a bit less understandable. The pair were beyond exhausted in round three, opting to forgo the opportunities they found themselves in simply because it was far less tiring to do nothing at all. Weidman took the split decision in a (hopefully) easily forgotten performance. As the lone lead-in for the co-main events, this bout really set the stage for a disappointing evening.

Perhaps it’s best that Michael Bisping and Chael Sonnen had a scant eleven days to talk up their bout, as it didn’t live up to the hastened hype it received. It’s not their fault, really. They both fought their asses off, it’s just that each man made the other look bad. The opening seconds reflected what many expected from this bout, with Chael landing an instant takedown and going to work. A moment later, however, Bisping threw the script out of the Octagon and popped right back up to his feet. His defensive wrestling wasn’t limited to the ground, either. The Brit surprised many everyone by repeatedly circling off the fence, pinning Sonnen against the cage and controlling much of the action. Though not much happened in the clinch, he outworked “The American Gangster” in the center of the cage as well, finding a home for his hands. Round three was all Chael; the self-proclaimed Middleweight champion put “The Count” in peril while taking his back and mounting him. If Twitter is any indication, exactly 50% of you are outraged with Sonnen’s unanimous decision victory. If even industry experts can’t agree on who won and by what margin, what must new fans have thought of the outcome? A fist fight should be a relatively easy affair to judge, but a bout like this puts MMA’s nebulous scoring system in the spotlight. The UFC now has the momentous rematch with Anderson Silva that they’d hoped for, but Chael’s performance hardly commanded the second bite at the apple like his submission win over Stann did.

The main event pitted perennial #1 contender Rashad Evans against the undefeated Phil Davis. Evans insisted that he would out-wrestle “Mr. Wonderful” convincingly, collegiate pedigrees be damned, and was confident that the rising star would fade under the bright lights of a high-stakes bout. As the final seconds of round one ticked away, and he stared up at those bright lights with his back against the canvas and his arms pinned in a crucifix, Davis must have heard Rashad’s claims echoing in his mind. Davis’ stand-up, though vastly improved, was still too sluggish for Rashad’s fast hands, and he repeatedly found himself in compromising positions on the ground throughout the bout. At times Davis looked disillusioned, but he never stopped fighting, he never allowed Rashad to put him away. He’ll benefit from this loss and has ample time to develop his skills and grow as a fighter. Evans will find no such respite. Following his unanimous decision win, the UFC has once again dangled the Jon Jones carrot in front of him. Fortunately he has little time to question if the fight will actually take place. The former training partners and friends are slated to dance at UFC 145 in Atlanta, Georgia. Assuming Evans picked up no injuries in his five round battle, this gives him just enough time to recover and get in a full training camp for the April 21st bout.

You need look no further than last night’s bonus checks for proof that the best of last night’s tussles were left on the cutting room floor. Lavar Johnson hurt Joey Beltran early with body shots, but it was a torrent of brutal uppercuts that dropped “The Mexicutioner” late in first round. Johnson picked up $65k for the evening’s “Knock out of the Night” and the first win for a Strikeforce heavyweight since their formal assimilation into the Octagon. Eric Wisely’s UFC debut was short lived. Charles Oliveira welcomed the rookie to the cage with some hard leg kicks before taking him to the ground and raining down shots. The Brazilian quickly transitioned from leg lock to leg lock before catching a rare calf-slicer and drawing the tap in just 1:43 of the first round. A terrific debut at Featherweight for “Do Bronx” was made all the sweeter with a check for the “Submission of the Night”. In the evening’s “Fight of the Night”, Evan Dunham and Nick Lentz swung away early and often. There was little feeling out process as the two traded shots in close quarters throughout the first frame. Both fighters slowed in round two, but their assaults were just as spirited. Dunham battered Lentz on the ground, swelling and cutting the fighter just below his eye. The damage was serious enough to limit his vision and force cage-side physicians to halt the bout between the second and third frames.

 

Full results: (via MMAWeekly.com )

Main Bouts (on Fox at 8 p.m. ET on Fox):
-Rashad Evans def. Phil Davis by Unanimous Decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45), R5
-Chael Sonnen def. Michael Bisping by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28), R3
-Chris Weidman def. Demian Maia by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28), R3

Preliminary Bouts (on Fuel TV at 5 p.m. ET on Fuel TV):
-Evan Dunham def. Nick Lentz by TKO (doctor stoppage) at 5:00, R2.
-Mike Russow def. Jon Olav Einemo by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
-Cub Swanson def. George Roop by TKO (punches) at 2:22, R2
-Charles Oliveira def. Eric Wisely via submission at 1:43, R1
-Michael Johnson def. Shane Roller by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
-Lavar Johnson def. Joey Beltran by knockout (punches) at 4:24, R1
-Chris Camozzi def. Dustin Jacoby by submission (front choke) at 1:08, R3

 

- Chris Colemon

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ytrebil- February 1, 2012 at 2:01 am
Anyone who says Sonnen won that fight really didn’t watch the fight too closely or had their biased specs on. Bisping won r1 & r2 and Sonnen won r3. Even in r3 when Sonnen had top control, he did no damage and if anything I thought Bisping got in some nice strikes off his back.

How did Sonnen win the first 2 rounds? He looked tired and Bisping wore him down against the cage. Every time they clinched, Bisping got the upper hand and controlled Sonnen.
Dagnut- January 31, 2012 at 12:11 am
This fight has showed you all up for the bunch of uneducated hypocrites you all are.
XENOPHON- January 30, 2012 at 8:36 am
RwilsonR Says:

Sun, 01/29/12 - 06:02

I’m still amazed how composed and mature Rashad was. None of the cocky showboating, and very composed and patient. Looked like a much better Rashad than I’ve ever seen before.

....................

Wilson go back and watch that fight again. Tell me if either Davis or Evans has what it takes to threaten John Jones.
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Forget Davis still looks like a relative rookie, or that Rashad was equally weak and equally tired near the end. (more people need to train at higher elevation)
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Sure the multiple crucifix's was smooth on Rashad's part, but it was Davis we are talking about. Davis is just a nice guy needing improvement in many areas. Davis needs to flee San Diego and find a new camp. Vera isn't going to teach him shit - and I could see glimpses of Vera's lackluster mentor-ship.

Neither are even close to Jones, and that they where considered the number 1 and 3 challengers. Place any hopes on Henderson as the number 2 challenger, and by before round 2 is over - you will witness a once great fighter - withered, tired, broken, and battered.
Todd M- January 29, 2012 at 8:45 pm
@ Armfarmer, I agree about the matchups, I was telling my mate don't bother skipping work for this one because it could easily be a fizzer. I ain't trying to hate but it has been a while since Rashad or Bisping have excited me in a fight.
amsterdamheavy- January 29, 2012 at 7:43 pm
He did nothing of value in round 1? How about out striking Bisping almost 2:1 and two successful takedowns? We can debate the overall value of those takedowns but we both know how they are scored in todays game.

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Did you know that Sonnen actually out struck Bisping in EVERY round? More successful takedown attempts, more strikes landed - what fuckin more do you want from the guy?
Spitting into the wind- January 29, 2012 at 6:54 pm
I can't fucking believe all ye guys on here claiming that Sonnen won the fight. He did absolutely nothing of value in either rounds 1 and 2. What little action happened Bisping controlled, from the clinch to the exchanges. That should suggest that he wins the 2 rounds.
I bet any money ye are the same cunts whining and pissing about the Matt Hammill fight still to this day. It was fucking embarrassing hearing Chael spout that shit after such a crap performance.
That is 2 fights that Bisping could/should have won(vs Evans aswell) to one which should/could have gone the other way.
But the main card overall must have been a huge bust for UFC aspirations to target a new audience.
Fuck me did Weidman vs Maia hurt the eyes.
boush- January 29, 2012 at 6:43 pm
Firstly I thought this was the lamest card I have watched in a while. I don't feel this "historic" broadcast did the sport any favours. The new format sucked - switching between rogan and goldberg and the 3 analysts upstairs was a waste of time (although Randy was great.) Also whose idea was it to have the youngest most inexperienced guy (in media terms) to be one of the analysts, Jon Jones was shocking - should have gone with Ken Flo or someone else with a bit of experience behind the mic.

The fights were absolute crap,to me it seemed like 5 out of the 6 fighters were pretty gassed. The only fighter who looked fresh throughout was Rashad everyone else seemed tired. Way too many wrestlers on one card - there wasn't one bona fide striker on the card. I'm not sure what the UFC expected out of this list of fighters. It's almost as if they looked at the quick finish of FOX1 and decided to do everything they could to get the exact opposite.

Chael looked terrible. Really not sure who won this one but the more important question is: Did either of these guys do enough to warrant a title challenge - I say no. If either Bisping or Sonnen were facing Silva last night, there would have been a massacre.

Lastly I dont know where all the Chael love comes from. He is a very one dimensional fighter. If the TD doesn't go his way then he has nothing. Certainly not the best in the world in my opinion. Tough guy? Sure but in no way well rounded enough to hold onto the belt for any length of time should he, by some miracle, beat Silva. Even his Schtick was feeling hammy, staged and not a little bit delusional. He seems to have shifted from smack talking about his opponents to talking about (praising) himself in the 3rd person. I just laughed when he told Joe he was standing next to greatness - as if anything he had done in the last 15 minutes alluded to greatness. Bisping proved, at least to me, that Chael is mostly mouth.

Lame and lame. Bring on Diaz Conduit.
RwilsonR- January 29, 2012 at 6:02 pm
I'm still amazed how composed and mature Rashad was. None of the cocky showboating, and very composed and patient. Looked like a much better Rashad than I've ever seen before.
RwilsonR- January 29, 2012 at 5:47 pm
Also, with Phil Davis I am once again struck by how much he was slipping around the octagon. Not taking anything away from Rashad, but I think this bullshit painting of the octagon by Fox in between fights actually had a big impact on this fight.
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I also think Davis' broad shoulders make it difficult for him to punch as quickly when he squares up.
RwilsonR- January 29, 2012 at 5:34 pm
Just watched it again and still don't see how you could give rd 1 to Bisping. Rd 2 was close and could have gone either way, so I don't see some conspiracy with a judge seeing 30-27 overall. If Bisping had been given the decision, that would have been controversial.
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Also, Big John has gone from the most respected ref in MMA to the most obnoxious. He talks more than the fighters corners. I think he is just full of himself and likes to hear the sound of his own voice.
edhedicus- January 29, 2012 at 5:15 pm
Ok, keep Randy on the desk, forget any other fighter. They are terrible, and they kill the momentum that any great fight could create for the show. Could you imagine a Hendo/Rua fight to be followed up by a nervous, jittery Jon Jones? Just run the format the same as PPV, no robots, no giant desk. Add Randy as a third guy, and have him do educational pieces on different aspects of the game.
ArmFarmer- January 29, 2012 at 4:50 pm
Better yet.. cung fucking le.. isn't that dude still in ufc? Put him on fox and get some fans!
Xanderschultz- January 29, 2012 at 4:02 pm
Does the UFC really not know which cards have the potential to be boring. Maia, Sonnen, Davis is not a heart pounding combo. It's like they are trying to be anti violent on Fox. Someone remind them they have Henderson, Shogun, Wanderlei, Condit, Diaz etc. when they want to put on a good show
Crow42- January 29, 2012 at 3:54 pm
Ufc needs 2 give the rematch between the spider and Sonnen 2 fox
2 make up 4 last nights event LOL
macreadysshack- January 29, 2012 at 1:50 pm
@ dude - you know if any of the three of them are actually truly sweating this - I'd be extremely surprised. This is all really experimental and those three are gonna be JUUUUUST FINE.
dude- January 29, 2012 at 1:28 pm
Imagine how Dana White is feeling right now. Better yet, Joe Silva. Better yet, FOX.
ArmFarmer- January 29, 2012 at 12:45 pm
I've been saying all along this would be a disaster. If you follow the sport at all, you should know that was a set of match ups that had incredibly high potential for being snoozers. Why you would pick a boring one trick pony like maia, and a noobie with 11 days notice to be 1 of 3 fights you put on fox.. astounding. Bisping, who has a reputation for running away and outpointing in the stand up, and Chael who has a reputation for dry humping his way to decisions on the ground, also high chance of zzzzz. Then you have two guys with top notch wrestling.. which usually cancels out and leads to zzzz. Great job ufc matchmakers, I hope you learned your lesson. Should have put diaz condit on fox.
smellypiratehooker- January 29, 2012 at 12:32 pm
Wrestling is a means, not an ends. Too many fighters I think have the roles reversed. Wrestling, used effectively, can bring you to a position where you can ground'n pound someone to unconscienceness or, submit a guy. holding on to a fighter the whole fight does nothing to convince me who would win the fight if it continued beyond the aloted time.

As for weight cutting issues. Even if it is at a new weight class, it is their responsiblity to come into the fight in good condition. They should certainly not state it as a reason they didn't perform so well, unless they are admitting that they were irresponsible.
jfjjfjff- January 29, 2012 at 12:01 pm
agree chonde. the human drama fluff is beyond useless. i watch sports to watch the sport, not hear about how everyone has their own personal highs and lows.
McLuvin- January 29, 2012 at 11:52 am
Dana needs to stop screwing us with this Fuel TV farce! Nobody has Fuel TV! I hate missing all the good fights because Fox has a third tier sports channel.
Chonde- January 29, 2012 at 11:44 am
I can't believe they let three boring fights take up more than 2 hours of FOX! If the show needed to be that long, they should have shown the Johnson KO, Olivera Sub, or the full Lentz/Dunham fight rather than doing so much background and build up to the three main fights. Its action that the people want to see, not a documentary.
frndlylion- January 29, 2012 at 11:35 am
Though not much happened in the clinch, he outworked “The American Gangster” in the center of the cage as well, finding a home for his hands.

Really?
I think you need to put the bong down and actually watch this fight. Then look at the fight metric and tell me again that Bisping won. He landed less strikes, was taken down on many occassions, and was dominated in the 3rd. Add to this the fact he constantly tried to cheat during the bout resulting in about 15 warnings from the ref for grabbing the fence and shorts, etc.
Sonnen won rounds 1 and 3. Get over it.
Smackdaddiest1- January 29, 2012 at 11:34 am
@Get Off Me - Couldn't agree more. My buddy that was watching it with me and I both felt like rounds 1 and 2 should have went to Bisping. I'm far from a Bisping apologist, but he got straight up robbed. If Chael had done what Bisping did in rounds 1 and 2 and then lost a decision, this website would have imploded with more stupidity than it already has. Sonnen's rematch with Anderson doesn't make it to round 3. Heard it here first.

Worse than that still was who in the hell judged that fight 29-28 for Maia??
Lesnarischamp- January 29, 2012 at 11:28 am
I wonder what they'll do with Weidman next. Since he defeated Maia, will they give him an ever higher ranked fight next, such as Bisping or the Okami/Boetsch winner? Or do they give him a lower ranked opponent before than, like Simpson/Markes winner?
macreadysshack- January 29, 2012 at 11:14 am
@Clinch-Smash Haha, I wasn't being sarcastic at all. I really couldn't remember if that had happened. It was just the only way I could rationalize CP's statement being true.
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It sucks to be intelligent with a horrible memory. It actually just makes me kind of retart.
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