CHICAGO — Experience trumped previously unblemished youth Saturday in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s return to Chicago.

Former champion “Suga” Rashad Evans (22-1-1) dominated Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis (9-1) en route to a unanimous decision victory in the main event of UFC on Fox 2. In inflicting the first loss of Davis’ professional career, Evans earned a shot at nemesis Jon “Bones” Jones, the light-heavyweight champion.

Jones’ title defense will take place April 21 in Atlanta at UFC 145, the promotion announced shortly before Saturday’s bout.

“I’m excited,” Jones said. “My motivation is sky high, through the roof. This is a fight that I cannot lose, and I’m going to train that way.”

Former teammates Evans and Jones share disdain for each other. But Jones praised his rival’s effort on Saturday.

“Rashad showed a lot of durability,” the champion said.

Davis rose rapidly through the light-heavyweight hierarchy, reaching No. 7 in the USA TODAY/MMA Nation consensus rankings less than three years after his first pro bout. But he found himself outmatched in all phases of mixed martial arts on Saturday.

“He was able to really use his hand speed to be more offensive than I was,” Davis said. “I look at the margin by which I lost — there’s that much just to be able to beat a former champion. How much more do I need to get better before I can beat the champion? He just helped me understand where I’m at.”

Evans landed 39 power strikes compared to seven for Davis, according to Compustrike. The eventual winner also went 3-for-5 on takedown attempts while Davis, a far superior collegiate wrestler, went just 1-for 5.

Davis was a four-time All-American wrestler at Penn State. Yet the older man shut down his opponent’s wrestling shots in the first round before catching his kick for a takedown of his own. Evans trapped Davis in a crucifix for several seconds and ended the opening round in top position.

Round two saw both men proceed cautiously at first. But Evans was clearly comfortable during the stand-up action, moving well and landing several strikes. It ended the same way as the first round, with Evans getting a takedown after Davis tried a kick.

Davis came closest to landing a takedown in the third round, when he nearly had Evans on the ground against the cage. Before Davis could complete the attempt, though, Evans slipped around him for the switch and wound up in top position.

They spent most of the fourth round on their feet, often clinching against the cage. Evans outstruck Davis 18-to-7 in the round, according to Compustrike.

The final round mimicked the first 20 minutes. Evans even crucifixed Davis again at one point.

“I’m happy I got the win, but I wanted to do better,” Evans said. “I wanted to put on a more spectacular win. … I can’t be too overly critical, because nights like this — winning on a stage in UFC — wins are hard to come by, so I should really just be thankful.”

Evans before the fight made a point of insulting Davis to create an atmosphere of personal animosity. The ex-champion afterward admitted that it was mainly a device to keep himself focused on Davis and prevent himself from looking ahead to a potential fight with Jones.

“To get myself to where I needed to (be), I had to make it a little bit personal or something just so I stayed focused and kept my eye on Phil Davis,” Evans said. “If I not, tonight’s result could have been a little bit different.”

UFC on Fox 2 was the promotion’s first show in Chicago since October 2008. Two middleweight fights preceded the main event on Saturday’s main card:

• Chael Sonnen wrestled to a unanimous decision win against Michael “The Count” Bisping. Sonnen advances to a title shot against 185-pound champion Anderson “The Spider” Silva.

• Chris Weidman pulled off the short-notice upset with a unanimous decision against former contender Demian Maia. Weidman raised his professional record to 8-0 by outstriking Maia frequently and taking him down occasionally.

Maia appeared to tire badly as the fight wore on. Yet it was Weidman who had taken the fight on short notice as a replacement for Bisping, who moved up to the co-main event after Sonnen’s original opponent, Mark Munoz, suffered an injury less than two weeks before the show.

Written by PhatzRadio.com via FeedCrossing
Written by FeedCrossing, Content News Source (Archive/RSS)

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