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UFC on FOX 2 blog: Rashad Evans, Chael Sonnen keep top-contender status

Chris Weidman wins a unanimous decision over Demian Maia despite short notice

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Steve Marcus

UFC light heavyweight fighter “Suga” Rashad Evans attends a news conference at the MGM Grand Wednesday, May 26, 2010 in this file photo.

Updated Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012 | 7:28 p.m.

Dana White fireside chat part 1

Dana White fireside chat part 2

Dana White fireside chat part 3

Note: Full results from the preliminary card are listed at the bottom of the page.

CHICAGO — Rashad Evans stood in the center of the octagon and took a deep sigh of relief moments after UFC on Fox 2 concluded.

The former light heavyweight champion did everything he promised he would do in winning a unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45) over Phil Davis. Evans also got what he really wanted in the process — a confirmed title shot against Jon Jones.

"It was really hard to focus on this fight," Evans said in the octagon, "because everyone kept talking about that fight."

Evans infused some life into the Davis matchup, however, by declaring himself the better wrestler. It sounded far-fetched — Davis won a national championship at Penn State — but Evans proved it at the United Center.

He stuffed numerous takedown attempts from Davis. Evans also took his opponent down when he wanted.

"I wanted to put him away, but I just didn't get the chance to throw some big punches," Evans said. "I'm kind of disappointed about it."

The other favorite on the card who had a higher-profile match-up to look forward to, Chael Sonnen, prevailed as well. Sonnen won a unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) over Michael Bisping in the co-main event.

Wrestling was also the difference for Sonnen. To open the Fox portion of the event, Chris Weidman earned a unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) over Demian Maia.

Check back to lasvegassun.com later for full coverage from the event and look below for results from all 10 fights.

Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis

Fifth Round Davis is the aggressor early. One of his jabs snaps Evans' head back, but most of them miss. They're standing in the pocket and exchanging, but neither fighter seems to have a real sense of urgency. It's getting on the fans' nerves. Evans catches another one of Davis' kicks and puts him on his back. Davis can't get up. Evans is in his half-guard. The two argued about their wrestling all week. The Michigan State guy, Evans, is dominating the Penn State national champion, Davis. Evans gets into side control and Davis covers his head to escape punishment. They're back up. Surprisingly, Evans seems to be taking it less safe than Davis despite the fact that he's won every round. Sweat beads fly off of Davis' head after Evans nails him with a right. Another failed takedown attempt from Davis ensues. With 40 seconds to go, Evans jabs Davis right to the nose. "Mr. Wonderful" cringes. This is not a great performance from him. Evans takes every round on the Las Vegas Sun scorecard and wins 50-45. Evans defeats Davis by unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45).

Fourth Round They dance around near the center of the cage and Davis continues to struggle to get anything going. Evans jabs. And Davis lands his most significant strike of the night. He throws a leg kick that hits Evans in the stomach and makes a sound like a whip. They exchange jabs, but Evans is faster and lands more. Evans is able to cover up and seemingly sees all of Davis' strikes way before they're thrown. Davis goes up top for a kick to the head, but Evans gets his neck. Davis works his way to the cage and breaks apart. They clinch again, but Evans puts his hands down to block any attempts at his knees. Davis goes for a takedown and Evans sprawls again. Evans takes Davis' back on the ground. But they're back to their feet. Davis uppercuts from the clinch. Evans knees. Evans clips Davis with five seconds to go with a right. Davis stumbles back and loses another round. Evans is pitching a 40-36 shutout through four.

Third Round Davis throws the first two strikes. Neither lands. Davis looking to establish his range again before shooting in for a takedown. It's the closest he's come to getting Evans down. But Evans is able to sprawl and get away. Davis keeps pushing for a takedown against the cage, however, and gets Evans sitting down against the cage. Evans gets to his feet and sweeps. Now, Davis is on his back. Davis tries to get away, but Evans takes his back. Evans can't improve his position from there. Davis pushes his way up. Evans uppercuts Davis, who goes for a double-leg takedown. Evans won't allow it and pushes Davis against the cage. Davis looks exhausted as they break away, taking deep breaths. Evans lands an uppercut and a right hand, but Davis drives into him and gets the takedown. Evans gets to his feet. Davis is hitting his side with knees, but it's not enough to win the round. Evans wins another, 10-9, and goes up 30-27 on the Las Vegas Sun scorecard.

Second Round Davis works his jab and throws a high kick that goes way over Evans' head. Evans is getting out of Davis' kicks way more than he did in the first round. Evans lands a few jabs to annoy Davis. A leg kick finally works for Davis this round. But Evans is controlling the center of the octagon and dictating the pace. Davis kicks Evans to the body and they clinch up a few seconds later. Davis lands a knee to the body. Davis comes forward, but Evans checks a leg kick. Evans pushes ahead and throws a combination before clinching up with Davis. They're against the cage and Evans hits Davis with a right hook as they break free. Evans lands another combination. Davis can't answer, at least not on his feet. Evans hits Davis in the body a couple times as the four-minute mark of the round comes and goes. Davis catches another kick and gets Davis on his back. With 23 seconds to go, this looks like a replay of the first round. Evans takes another 10-9 round.

First Round Evans engages first with a kick that slides across Evans' body. They rotate around the cage and Davis whips another couple kicks into Evans. Davis is trying to establish his reach advantage and not let Evans inside. Davis hits Evans with another kick, but loses his balance to leave himself open. Evans locks up momentarily, but pushes Davis away. Davis shoots for a takedown, but Evan sprawls to get away. Evans gives Davis a jab as he backs away. The leg kicks continue to work for Davis, but there's not a lot of power behind them. They exchange for the first time and Evans lands a couple shots. Davis rushes in and Evans hits him with a right hand. Davis looks for Evans' legs for a takedown, but comes up empty. Davis throws another kick, but this time Evans catches it and deposits him onto the ground. Evans is working for side control. He throws a few right hands to loosen Davis up and gets it. Evans unleashes strikes on Evans' head. The crowd is getting into it. Evans tries to get Davis' back, but the bell rings. It's a great first round for Evans, as he wins it 10-9.

Chael Sonnen vs. Michael Bisping

Third Round They touch gloves and it doesn't take long before Sonnen dumps Bisping on his back. He's in Bisping's guard, much to the pleasure of the pro-Sonnen crowd at the United Center. Bisping nearly spins to his feet, forcing Sonnen to stand up. But Sonnen comes back down and feeds Bisping a fist. Bisping gets to his feet, but Sonnen passes to his back. He's looking to lock in his feet to attempt a rear-naked choke. He's got it. Now, it's a matter of sinking his arm below Bisping's neck. Bisping has a hold of Sonnen's hands and seems to be defending against it. Sonnen passes into full-mount. Bisping could be in real trouble. The Brit is escaping damage by controlling Sonnen's arms, but he's definitely losing the round. Sonnen starts thrusting his chest onto Bisping's head. But he abandons the plan after a few seconds. Bisping throws his hands from the bottom. Sonnen is suffocating him and not giving Bisping any opening to stand up with a minute to go. Bisping maneuvers to a knee and eventually his feet with 20 seconds to go. He takes Sonnen down, but that's it. Sonnen wins 10-9 on the Las Vegas Sun scorecard and 30-27 overall. Sonnen takes a unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) over Bisping.

Second Round Bisping hits Sonnen with a combination to open the stanza. Bisping is opening up with his striking to success so far. They're clinched back up 45 seconds in and neither fighter is scoring many points. Bisping actually wrapped his arms around Sonnen's waist, looking as if he contemplated taking the world-class wrestler down. But he abandons those plans. Bisping dirty-boxes Sonnen along the fence until the referee breaks them apart. Bisping is keeping Sonnen from shooting in for takedowns with a high-volume of strikes. But Sonnen can't be stopped forever. He puts Bisping on his back. Bisping is desperately trying to get to his feet, but Sonnen is smothering him. Sonnen pulls Bisping off of the fence and rains down some ground-and-pound strikes. Bisping is up, but bleeding and Sonnen uses the opportunity to hit him a couple more times. Bisping lands a couple jabs before locking back up. Bisping is out-striking Sonnen, but he's not controlling the fight. Sonnen grimaces after a Bisping left hand to the body. Bisping fires a short-range elbow with 30 seconds to go. They break apart and Bisping tries a spin kick that misses. It's a round that could go either way, but Las Vegas Sun will give it to Sonnen 10-9.

First Round Sonnen is coming forward early, but Bisping jabs him. Sonnen gets Bisping down on his first takedown attempt. As promised, Bisping gets right back up. Bisping stuffs Sonnen's second takedown attempt, using the wall to support his weight. They break out and both fighters land a couple punches. Sonnen locks back up with Bisping. A knee to the body is followed by a throw to the ground. Sonnen is feeding ground-and-pound strikes, but Bisping wall-walks to his feet. They clinch up and trade knees. Sonnen is throwing more. They go to a different part of the cage, but lock up once again. Midway through the round, it's all going Sonnen's way. Bisping has landed a few dirty boxing jabs, however, this time. Sonnen shoots for a takedown and Bisping stays up. Sonnen elbows Bisping against the cage. They are back in the middle and Sonnen connects with Bisping's temple with a left hand. Bisping locks up in position against the fence. Bell sounds, and Sonnen wins the first round 10-9.

Demian Maia vs. Chris Weidman

Third Round Maia is breathing easier and looking more fresh. But he's way behind. Weidman looks for a takedown, but it's not there. Maia does the same, but Weidman shrugs it off. Weidman leg kicks Maia. He runs in and jabs to set up a takedown along the fence. This is the longest he's had Maia down. But he's in Maia's guard, where the Brazilian is supposed to be at his toughest. Maia stands up and pushes Weidman away. An uppercut grazes the former All-American college wrestler. Maia shoots in for a double-leg takedown, but Weidman gets a hold of his neck. Weidman sprawls another takedown and looks to take Maia's back. Maia eats two straight jabs. This pace has slowed drastically, as Weidman has nothing left. Maia is swinging wildly, but nothing is hurting Weidman. A body shot might have done the trick with two minutes to go. Weidman knees Maia in the face, but he's got no power. Weidman throws a combination. Sloppy striking ensues for the final minute. Weidman wins 30-27 on the Las Vegas Sun's scorecard. Chris Weidman defeats Demian Maia by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28).

Second Round Weidman keeps his distance again until Maia comes in. Then, Weidman gets him down. But Maia's resolve is strong and he's back to his feet again. Weidman's inability to keep Maia on the ground has been surprising so far. But he hasn't needed to, because Weidman is beating Maia everywhere else. His jab isn't hurting the Brazilian, but it's connecting on a regular basis. Maia hits Weidman with a left hook. Weidman goes to the body. Maia breaks out of an attempt to clinch by Weidman. Weidman chases a retreating Maia down and gives him a couple jabs. Weidman can't get Maia in the clinch. Maia gets inside momentarily, peppering Weidman with an uppercut and a right. Weidman is breathing heavy, after cutting some 35 pounds in 11 days, but landing leg kicks on Maia. He shoots for a takedown, but instead traps Maia against the fence. Maia gets out and starts hurting Weidman with his jab and kicks. But Weidman locks up and tosses Maia to the ground. He looks tired, but he's won another round. It's 20-18 heading to the third.

First Round Maia strikes first with a left hand. They are at the center of the cage and keeping their distance. An upkick from Weidman grazes Maia. Weidman rushes in with a right hand and a retreating Maia loses his balance and slips. Weidman's jabs are finding Maia's chin when he throws them. He mixes in a kick. Maia is circling around the octagon and not finding a way to get inside of Weidman. All of the Brazilian's strikes are thrown from long range, so Weidman can see them coming. Maia lands a knee and a jab. A superman punch from Weidman misses. They are back at the center midway through the run with neither fighter wanting to be too aggressive. Weidman tries to clinch up with Maia, who gets away. Weidman throws a combination with a jab followed by a kick. Then, he goes to the body. Maia lands a leg kick, but Weidman counters with a jab. Weidman gets a takedown with 55 seconds to go. The double-leg worked to perfection, but Maia pops back up. Maia trips after throwing a leg kick that misses Weidman's head. They lock up, but nothing comes of it. Weidman is checking all kicks and he wins the first round 10-9.

Pre-main card

CHICAGO — The fighting at the first UFC on Fox event lasted a total of 64 seconds.

If the action tonight at the United Center doesn’t eclipse that mark by 20-some times, it’s likely to leave fans disappointed. The UFC makes it second appearance on network television this evening, and for the first time, the Las Vegas-based promotion is airing more than one fight on the broadcast.

Light heavyweights Rashad Evans and Phil Davis will battle for a No. 1 contendership, as will middleweights Chael Sonnen and Michael Bisping. Demian Maia and Chris Weidman, two more 185-pounders, round out the Fox portion of the card.

In other words, the UFC is done hinging its entire Fox broadcast on one fight. In the debut, Junior dos Santos knocked out Cain Velasquez in the first round and left casual fans wanting more.

They’re getting more tonight. The main card is set to begin in a matter of minutes and the sold-out crowd here can’t wait.

The first UFC on Fox event peaked with 8.8 million viewers tuning in. Although tonight’s fights aren’t quite the caliber of a heavyweight title fight, the timing of the card could enable an even higher rating.

The UFC strategically scheduled tonight’s card for the weekend in between NFL conference championships and the Super Bowl. If sports fans need something to watch, the thinking goes, they will find their way to Fox.

They’ll have a chance to see some outstanding fighters. Evans is a former world champion, as he took the belt from local fighter Forrest Griffin three years ago only to lose it in his next fight, and Davis is an undefeated prospect.

Sonnen and Bisping have combined to go 6-2 over the past two years. Maia is the only current UFC fighter other than Anderson Silva to hold a victory over Sonnen.

But Weidman, who was a standout wrestler at Hofstra University, has never lost in mixed martial arts and matches up well stylistically with Maia.

Stay tuned to lasvegassun.com for round-by-round coverage of the main card and look below for full results from the preliminary bouts.

Las Vegas lightweight Evan Dunham beat up Nik Lentz so badly that doctors were forced to stop the action. After the second round, Lentz's left eye was swollen shut and medical officials advised ending the fight. Dunham officially takes a second round TKO victory over Lentz.

Chicago Police officer Mike Russow got a victory in front of his large contingent of hometown fans. Russow won a unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) over John-Olav Einemo in a heavyweight bout that mostly took place on the ground after the local product took the Norwegian down.

Cub Swanson knocked out George Roop at 2:22 of the second round in their featherweight bout. Swanson connected cleanly with a right hand so powerful that it sent Roop's mouthpiece flying into the railing at the top of the cage.

Charles Oliveira, who dropped from lightweight, showed that he's going to be a force to be reckoned with at featherweight. Oliveira submitted Eric Wisely with the first calf-slicer in UFC history at 1:43 of the first round.

Michael Johnson won a unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) in his lightweight bout against Shane Roller. Johnson scored points on his feet in the first two rounds, before surviving on the ground in the third.

A barrage of uppercuts helped former Strikeforce heavyweight Lavar Johnson get off to a successful start in his UFC career. Johnson knocked out UFC veteran Joey Beltran at 4:24 of the first round.

Chris Camozzi defeated Dustin Jacoby via submission at 1:08 of the third round. After an entertaining striking battle through 11 minutes, Camozzi kicked Jacoby's legs out from under him and found his neck for a standing guillotine choke.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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