The UFC started to release the lineup for their return to the gigantic FOX network on January 28th. It appears that in the early going, the Lightheavyweight bout between former champion Rashad Evans and rising star Phil Davis will receive top billing over the Chael Sonnen vs Mark Munoz bout. The UFC is coming out with two very meaningful bouts for the second broadcast on FOX. Leading off with a Rashad Evans makes sense in a lot of ways.
I sense this match with Davis is one where Evans will be favored, however Davis has been impressive in going undefeated to this point in his career.
The UFC could use Evans to do well. He is a talent in what is already a deep division. He won the second season of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ at heavyweight, and then dropped to Lightheavyweight where he won the title. Evans was outstanding in his run to the top, looking very athletic and displaying a big time will to win. Then Lyoto Machida defeated him for the Lightweight belt and Evans has basically been an afterthought in the weight class.
Evans has been the number one contender for a while in the division and has run off three straight wins since losing the title. Title matches have been made for Rashad, but have fallen thru. This will mark his fourth bout since losing the title, yet he has still remained directionless.
The main thing Rashad has shown throughout his career that I think the UFC needs is his charisma. I think Rashad shows an ability to be the good guy or the bad guy, the crowd favorite or the target of boos.
Jon Jones, Lyoto Machida both a little bit on the plain side. Forrest Griffin, Tito Ortiz and Quinton Jackson could all put on a show, but all have faded in relevancy.
Davis is dangerous, and his most recent wins over Rogerio Noguiera and Tim Boetsch show that he has continued to raise his level. He is a monster athlete, and will likely be bigger than Rashad in the match.
Davis and Jon Jones have been coming up together, and they were compared to each other as they rose in their UFC careers. Nowadays, most people say Davis is good, but he is not Jon Jones. Though Davis has shown a few more holes in his game than Jones, he can be a dominant force.
But Evans needs to realize also, that for him the time is now. Bottom line is he is 32 years old, and he is more than two and a half years removed from holding the title. Evans needs to grab this opportunity to look great in front of the biggest audience of his career, and then he should look for his title shot. Phil Davis is still a year or two away, though Evans needs to stay focused and keep hungry if he is going to remain on top and give up his spot to Davis.