Rashad Evans proved that he was just too advanced for Phil Davis in tonight's UFC on Fox 2 main event. In a fight that represented significant risk to Evans in the eyes of most observers, Rashad was able to dominate every round in an interesting stylistic match-up.
It may not have been the most exciting bout in the world (more on that in a moment) but seeing Evans win every phase of the fight (wrestling, striking, grappling) while not seeming to gas too horribly was a good sign and should set up the Jon Jones fight quite well.
The unfortunate thing about the Fox effort is that it was seen by many as being somewhat of a failure again. There were many tweets during the main event that fans were leaving the building, the opening fight was a horrible bout and while Michael Bisping and Chael Sonnen put on a good fight some saw it as a controversial decision and it did involve a lot of clinching against the cage.
I'm deeply interested in seeing the ratings breakdown for the event to see when people were tuning in and tuning out to get a better idea of the mass appeal of the event. But we do know that we've still yet to see that huge moment where the sport totally shines on Fox.
- What I found interesting about Evans vs. Davis was seeing how having a bigger reach doesn't mean you have an advantage. Davis doesn't quite understand the dynamics of spacing and utilizing his reach, this led to him coming up short on his punches much more often than Rashad. Evans was able to just move in enough to get his punches off and out just enough to prevent Davis from landing. It was much less "flashy" on the in and out than his usual work but was arguably much more effective.
- I just hope that this wasn't a case where Davis was pushed a little too far too soon and is broken going forward. He kept fighting to win which is a good thing but (to over-analyze body language) he looked like he was breaking in the third round.
- I scored the Michael Bisping vs. Chael Sonnen fight for Bisping but I'm not upset that Sonnen got the decision. I thought Bisping controlled the fight a bit more but Sonnen did enough to earn at least two rounds depending on what you focus on.
- The best part of the fight may be that it was fairly entertaining and both guys looked good. So you don't come out of a national broadcast with either guy having their stock fall. Bisping is a star, even if people don't like him and he'll take no damage off of this and Sonnen is now going to get his rematch against Anderson Silva.
- The fight did play out much as I expected. While people expected Sonnen to run through him, Bisping's skills were perfect for the game that Sonnen brings to the table. Well, obviously not perfect but very good. Maybe some day people will stop underrating Bisping.
- Sonnen's mic work is getting worse though. It's so much more rehearsed and so much less crazy and seeming off-the-cuff. It's just less interesting than it was around the first Silva fight.
- Demian Maia looked absolutely horrible and I think that Bisping would have hurt him badly if the Mark Munoz injury didn't cause the shuffling on the card.
- While Maia's fight with Chris Weidman was not exactly exciting or anything resembling a good fight, Weidman deserves a lot of credit for taking a dangerous fight on late notice. He had to cut a lot of weight and go in without having time to craft and train a full gameplan and got the win. He deserves a lot of respect for that.
Much more after the jump including thoughts on the Fox production...
- My biggest gripe with the Fox production was far too many times where they were showing the action from directly behind one fighter (Punchout! style). It makes it very hard to see what is landing and what isn't and, while looking neat, is a very inefficient angle for combat sports.
- Beyond that I thought the production was very sharp, polished and made everything look super professional.
- Jon Jones wasn't very good in his analyst role tonight, but damn am I excited to see him face Rashad finally.
- Evan Dunham was really punishing the new "exciting" version of Nik Lentz. I thought the fight was entertaining and don't hate Lentz like others, but abandoning his grinding style leads to him getting hit in the face a lot.
- Mike Russow rarely seems like the "better" fighter in the cage, but he keeps getting his hand raised, so you can't hate him too much for that. But Jon Olav Einemo is not a UFC caliber fighter at all. Two horribly disappointing performance in two trips to the cage.
- I may not like Cub Swanson's tattoos, but he was very solid in demolishing George Roop. Swanson got takedowns, wasn't nearly as wild as he has been in the past and the right hand that set up the finish was crushing.
- Charles Oliveira is going to be a real force at 145 pounds, I'm very interested to see what is next or him after the beautiful calf slicer.
- Michael Johnson was so much better than I remember ever seeing him for two rounds against Shane Roller but then almost fell into the "Michael Johnson trap" of finding a way to get himself beat in the third. He survived though and took the decision. I'm interested to see his next fight if he continues this level of growth.
- Lavar Johnson is a guy who I just never imagined in the UFC but holy crap...he just crushed Joey Beltran. Johnson was so much more composed than I ever thought he would be and his striking was so much more sound than I expected it to be. Putting Beltran to sleep is no small feat and if I'm going to watch a heavyweight brawler who throws hands I'd rather watch Johnson than Beltran.