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UFC on FOX 2 breakdown, betting odds and picks

Picks panel heavily favors Rashad Evans and Chael Sonnen

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Steve Marcus

Light heavyweight fighter “Suga” Rashad Evans, right, is interviewed by Joe Rogan during the official UFC 114 weigh-in at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

Updated Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012 | 4:33 p.m.

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Not many mixed martial arts fans are giving Phil Davis a shot to upset Rashad Evans in the main event of Saturday's UFC on FOX 2 card in Chicago.

Sports books only opened the undefeated Davis as a slight underdog when the UFC announced the bout, but lopsided money has pushed Evans' line up to nearly -200 (risking $2 to win $1) three days before the light heavyweight fight. The Las Vegas Sun's picks panel illustrates the kind of support Evans is drawing.

All four prognosticators like Evans to beat Davis. It's the same story in the co-main event, where 4-to-1 favorite Chael Sonnen takes on Michael Bisping. No one in this picks section was bold enough to call for the upset with Bisping.

KSNV's Kevin West leads the way with an 8-2 record after one event this year. Las Vegas Sun's Ray Brewer and ESPN.com's Brett Okamoto went 7-3, while ESPN Radio/Cagewriter.com's Steve Cofield went 6-4. Last year's champion, Las Vegas Sun's Case Keefer, trails with a 5-5 mark.

Check below for a breakdown, picks and betting odds for all 10 fights scheduled for the sold-out United Center.

Phil Davis

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 6’2''
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 5-0
  • MMA record 9-0
  • Out of: San Diego
  • Betting line: +140

Rashad Evans

  • Age: 32
  • Height: 5’11''
  • Weight: 204
  • UFC record 11-1-1
  • MMA record 16-1-1
  • Out of: Boca Raton, Fla.
  • Betting line: -170

Light Heavyweight Bout

Main Event

Last fight: Unanimous decision victory over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC Fight Night 24.

Punch list: Davis has never encountered a fighter of Evans’ caliber. “Mr. Wonderful” will need to show evolution in some parts of his game — but not his wrestling, which is already second to none — since he last fought 10 months ago. He spent some of that time recovering from a knee injury.

Staff picks: ESPN.com and ESPN Radio

Okamoto: Evans

Cofield: Evans

Last fight: Second round TKO win against Tito Ortiz at UFC 133.

Punch list: Evans has never encountered a wrestler of Davis’ caliber. In fact, Evans has held a wrestling advantage in every fight he’s ever been in. Evans wrestled collegiately Michigan State, but Davis was an All American at Penn State. They have an admitted Big 10 rivalry because of the ties.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and KSNV

Keefer: Evans

Brewer: Evans

West: Evans

Michael Bisping

  • Age: 32
  • Height: 6’2”
  • Weight: 186
  • UFC record 12-3
  • MMA record 22-3
  • Out of: Orange County, Calif.
  • Betting line: +350

Chael Sonnen

  • Age: 34
  • Height: 6’1''
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 6-3
  • MMA record 27-10-1
  • Out of: Portland, Ore.
  • Betting line: -450

Middleweight Bout

Co-Main Event

Last fight: Third round TKO victory over Jason “Mayhem” Miller at “The Ultimate Fighter” 14 finale.

Punch list: Is taking a fight against Sonnen on two weeks notice not enough time to properly prepare? The odds indicate so. Sonnen is arguably the greatest wrestler currently in MMA, meaning someone like Bisping would ideally spend an entire training camp working on takedown defense. But the polarizing Brit didn’t have that luxury.

Staff picks: ESPN.com and ESPN Radio

Okamoto: Sonnen

Cofield: Sonnen

Last fight: Second round submission victory over Brian Stann at UFC 136.

Punch list: Sonnen’s path to a rematch with Anderson Silva got significantly easier with a late injury to Mark Munoz, at least if the odds are to be trusted. Bisping is more than twice the underdog Munoz was against Sonnen. Against Stann, Sonnen notched his first submission victory in nearly five years.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Keefer: Sonnen

Brewer: Sonnen

West: Sonnen

Chris Weidman

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 6’2’’
  • Weight: 186
  • UFC record 3-0
  • MMA record 7-0
  • Out of: Baldwin, N.Y.
  • Betting line: -150

Demian Maia

  • Age: 34
  • Height: 6’0’’
  • Weight: 186
  • UFC record 9-3
  • MMA record 15-3
  • Out of: Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • Betting line: +120

Middleweight Bout

FOX Tripleheader Headliner

Last fight: First round submission win against Tom Lawlor at UFC 139.

Punch list: Weidman is undoubtedly the 185-pound division’s top prospect. There’s no more time to ease into contention, though. In Maia, Weidman finds himself facing a former top contender and grade-A level fighter for the first time in his career.

Staff picks:ESPN.com and ESPN Radio

Okamoto: Maia

Cofield: Maia

Last fight: Unanimous decision victory over Jorge Santiago at UFC 136.

Punch list: Opponents have started to figure out how to stifle Maia’s vaunted Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He opened his UFC career with five straight submission wins, but hasn’t nabbed another in three years. He’s brought along his striking and wrestling, however, to stay near the top of the 185-pound division.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Keefer: Weidman

Brewer: Weidman

West: Weidman

Nik Lentz

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 5’6''
  • Weight: 156
  • UFC record 5-1-1
  • MMA record 21-4
  • Out of: Eden Prarie, Minn.
  • Betting line: +275

Evan Dunham

  • Age: 30
  • Height: 5’10”
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 5-2
  • MMA record 12-2
  • Out of: Las Vegas
  • Betting line: -345

Lightweight Bout

FUEL TV Prelim

Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Mark Bocek at UFC 140.

Punch list: This is a tough assignment for Lentz. He lost his first UFC fight barely a month ago, and because of an injury to Paul Sass, gets a step-up in competition anyway. Lentz will look to out-wrestle Dunham, a strategy that kept the Minnesotan unbeaten for a stretch of more than four years.

Staff picks: ESPN.com and ESPN Radio

Okamoto: Dunham

Cofield: Dunham

Last fight: Unanimous decision victory against Shamar Bailey at UFC Fight Night 25.

Punch list: Dunham is well rounded, as likely to try to stay standing and strike as he is to take his opponent down and show off his black-belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He’ll be looking for a finish, something that has eluded him for more than two years. Dunham hasn’t stopped an opponent since UFC Fight Night 20 when he submitted Efrain Escudero.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Keefer: Dunham

Brewer: Dunham

West: Dunham

John-Olav Einemo

  • Age: 36
  • Height: 6’6’’
  • Weight: 261
  • UFC record 0-1
  • MMA record 7-2
  • Out of: Oslo, Norway
  • Betting line: +135

Mike Russow

  • Age: 35
  • Height: 6’2’’
  • Weight: 256
  • UFC record 3-1
  • MMA record 14-1
  • Out of: Alexandria, Minn.
  • Betting line: -165

Heavyweight Bout

FUEL TV Prelim

Last fight: Second round TKO loss to Dave Herman at UFC 131.

Punch list: Last year must have felt like a whirlwind to Einemo. He came out of retirement and faced Herman in his first fight in five years. The bout won Fight of the Night honors, but the UFC cut Einemo afterwards because of a business disagreement with his management. “The Viking” was eventually re-signed.

Staff picks: ESPN.com and ESPN Radio

Okamoto: Russow

Cofield: Einemo

Last fight: Beat Jon Madsen by second round TKO at UFC Fight Night 24.

Punch list: Most fighters thrive with the opportunity of fighting in front of their home town. Others crumble with the pressure. Russow will find out how he handles it Saturday night. Although he has trained with Brock Lesnar’s Team DeathClutch in Minnesota, Russow is a full-time Chicago police officer.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Keefer: Russow

Brewer: Einemo

West: Russow

George Roop

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 6’1’’
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 2-4
  • MMA record 12-8-1
  • Out of: Tucson, Ariz.
  • Betting line: +135

Cub Swanson

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 5’7’’
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 0-1
  • MMA record 15-5
  • Out of: Palm Springs, Calif.
  • Betting line: -165

Featherweight Bout

FUEL TV Prelim

Last fight: Split decision loss to Hatsu Hioki at UFC 137.

Punch list: It seems like the lanky Roop can never catch a break. He was a major underdog in the Hioki fight and put up a valiant effort. The decision could have gone either way, many scored it in favor of Roop, but the judges sided with Hioki. Roop might need a win to keep his job.

Staff picks: ESPN.com and ESPN Radio

Okamoto: Roop

Cofield: Roop

Last fight: Second round submission loss to Ricardo Lamas at UFC on FOX 1.

Punch list: The WEC veteran could be the answer to a UFC trivia question for years to come. He’s the only fighter to appear on each of the first two FOX cards. He got off to a fast start against Lamas in Anaheim, Calif., but couldn’t twist out of an arm triangle choke in the second round.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Roop

Brewer: Roop

West: Swanson

Eric Wisely

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 5’8’’
  • Weight: 156
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 19-6
  • Out of: Clinton, Iowa
  • Betting line: +350

Charles Oliveira

  • Age: 22
  • Height: 5’10’’
  • Weight: 153
  • UFC record 2-2
  • MMA record 14-2
  • Out of: Houston
  • Betting line: -500

Featherweight Bout

FUEL TV Prelim

Last fight: Second round TKO victory over Brandon Girtz at SEG Downtown Showdown 1.

Punch list: The UFC hopes the grinding veteran adds some depth to the 145-pound division. Wisely has plenty of bouts against former UFC lightweights and other notable fighters with mixed results. He’s also fought in Strikeforce, dropping a decision to Pat Healy on a Challengers card.

Staff picks: ESPN.com and ESPN Radio

Okamoto: Oliveira

Cofield: Oliveira

Last fight: First round TKO defeat to Donald Cerrone at UFC on Versus 5.

Punch list: After winning his first two fights in the octagon, Oliveira was vocal about his desire to become the promotion’s youngest-ever champion. It didn’t get him very far. Since then, “Do Bronx” has lost two fights with another no contest mixed in. He dropped to the 145-pound class at the request of the UFC in an attempt to recreate himself.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Keefer: Oliveira

Brewer: Wisely

West: Oliveira

Shane Roller

  • Age: 32
  • Height: 5’10’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 1-2
  • MMA record 10-5
  • Out of: Dallas, Texas
  • Betting line: -215

Michael Johnson

  • Age: 25
  • Height: 5’10’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 1-2
  • MMA record 9-6
  • Out of: Boca Raton, Fla.
  • Betting line: +175

Lightweight Bout

FUEL TV Prelim

Last fight: Third round submission loss to T.J. Grant at UFC on Versus 6.

Punch list: Roller, who used to train in Las Vegas, likely needs a win to salvage his job at the United Center. The former Oklahoma State wrestler scored a highlight reel knockout against Thiago Tavares to start his octagon career, but has dropped two straight since.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Roller

Cofield: Roller

Last fight: First round submission loss to Paul Sass at UFC on Versus 6.

Punch list: Wrestlers like Roller have caused problems for Johnson in the past, but Johnson feels like he’s turned corner since beginning to train with the Blackzilians team in Florida. The Rashad Evans training partner might have to use his defensive wrestling to keep the fight standing.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Keefer: Johnson

Brewer: Roller

West: Roller

Lavar Johnson

  • Age: 34
  • Height: 6’4”
  • Weight: 243
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 15-5
  • Out of: Madera, Calif.
  • Betting line: +175

Joey Beltran

  • Age:30
  • Height: 6’1’’
  • Weight: 245
  • UFC record 3-3
  • MMA record 13-6
  • Out of: San Diego
  • Betting line: -215

Heavyweight Bout

FUEL TV Prelim

Last fight: Second round submission loss to Shawn Jordan at Strikeforce Challengers 19.

Punch list: The UFC must have seen something in Johnson, who lost his two Strikeforce bouts with submission losses. Johnson is heavy-handed, with 13 knockout victories, but struggles against fighters who take him out of his striking comfort zone.

Staff picks: ESPN.com and ESPN Radio

Okamoto: Johnson

Cofield: Beltran

Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Stipe Miocic at UFC 136.

Punch list: Beltran has lost two of his last three, so the crowd pleaser will be desperate for a win here. Beltran’s greatest quality is his toughness. Only one opponent has ever finished him. With his perseverance, he’s never truly out of a fight until the third-round bell rings.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Keefer: Beltran

Brewer: Beltran

West: Beltran

Dustin Jacoby

  • Age: 23
  • Height: 6’4’’
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 0-1
  • MMA record 6-1
  • Out of: Springfield, Ill.
  • Betting line: +160

Chris Camozzi

  • Age: 25
  • Height: 6’3’’
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 2-2
  • MMA record 15-5
  • Out of: Lakewood, Colo.
  • Betting line: -200

Middleweight Bout

Facebook Prelim

Last fight: Unanimous decision defeat against Clifford Starks at UFC 137.

Punch list: Jacoby’s UFC debut went less than smoothly when he couldn’t stuff repeated takedown attempts from Starks. He’s probably less than pleased to be facing yet another opponent who can wrestle in his second UFC fight.

Staff picks: ESPN.com and ESPN Radio

Okamoto: Camozzi

Cofield: Camozzi

Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Francis Carmont at UFC 137.

Punch list: “The Ultimate Fighter” 11 veteran likely needs a win to prevent getting cut by the UFC for a second time. The former rugby player has fared well against the UFC’s bottom-level competition, but hasn’t broken through into the middle of the pack.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Keefer: Camozzi

Brewer: Jacoby

West: Camozzi

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