Pros Pick: Evans vs. Davis

By Mike Sloan Jan 26, 2012
Rashad Evans will enter UFC on Fox 2 as the favorite, according to his peers. | Photo:

The Ultimate Fighting Championship on Saturday returns to America’s Second City for another potential landmark event.

UFC on Fox 2, which will serve as the promotion’s sophomore effort on the Fox network, will emanate from the United Center in Chicago. In the main event, former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans continues his quest to regain UFC gold, as he squares off against the undefeated Phil Davis. The winner, especially if Evans emerges, figures to move to the front of the line in terms of who next faces current UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. caught up with a number of professional fighters and trainers to gauge their opinions on the UFC on Fox 2 headliner:

Ben Askren: I got Rashad winning [but] I would like to see Phil pull it off. At this point in Phil’s career, I think Rashad’s wrestling plus striking might be too much for him, but I hope I am wrong.

Jason Dent: I’m picking and pulling for Rashad in this one. Phil has only had five fights in the UFC, whereas this will be Rashad’s 14th fight in the Octagon. To be completely honest, I have not gotten the chance to follow Phil’s career that much just yet, either. I’m going to say Rashad wins this one by decision.

Benji Radach: Real men wear pink; gotta pull for Phil in this one. However, Rashad has some quick hands that can end the fight at any moment.

Jeff Hougland: I think this will be an awesome fight. Davis is a beast wrestler who has long arms and great cardio. He seems to be improving on his standup with every fight, and he also has an underrated submission game. Evans is an outstanding fighter. I have been a fan of his since I saw him fight a very tough Jaime Jara back in Gladiator Challenge. I’d definitely give the edge in striking and punching power to Rashad. Wrestling is a toss up. I’d say Phil looks technically more sound, but Rashad seems to be the faster, more explosive athlete. I’d give the edge in submissions to Phil, but I don’t think Rashad has ever been submitted, so that will be crazy if he can pull off a sub. I think this fight will come down to who can score the takedowns. If Phil can threaten with his strikes and sell that he wants to stand, it may expose Rashad to takedowns; if he can capitalize on Rashad’s forward momentum and score takedowns, it could be interesting, although holding Rashad down may be a problem, as well. I think Rashad is the more proven fighter and hungry to get that title shot against Jon Jones, so I’m gonna pick Rashad by second-round TKO.

Phil Davis File Photo

The pros don't see Davis' hand raised.
Bart Palaszewski: Gotta go with Rashad.

Joseph Sandoval: I think that’s gonna be kinda like when Rashad fought [Quinton] “Rampage” [Jackson] -- not the fury of Rampage but the fact that Rashad will take the fight to the ground and hopefully take a ground-and-pound finish.

Zach Makovsky: I think this is a very interesting fight. If this was a wrestling match, Davis would win. If this was a jiu-jitsu match, I think Davis would win. One thing I think a lot of people don’t quite understand is that an MMA fight is more than just the sum of its parts. It is not about who is better at this and who is better at that; it is about who can make it all work together. Rashad wins.

Shane Roller: Rashad [wins].

Travis Wiuff: Phil Davis dominates the fight with his wrestling and wins a decision.

Mark Bocek: Good fight, but I’m thinking Rashad [wins]. I think his wrestling is good enough by MMA standards to stop the takedown, and he has better overall striking, I believe. Rashad wins by decision.

Johny Hendricks: Man, this is a tough one because both [of them are] wrestlers. I think Evans has Davis on the feet, but I think Davis can take down Evans. Davis is good off the cage and so is Evans; both can do what they want off the cage. I just haven’t seen Evans fight too much on his back, but, on this one, I have to go with Evans. I think his hand speed and takedown defense is going to be too much for Davis.

Javier Vazquez: This fight is a tough one to call. I have to lean towards Evans due to the experience and the striking advantage. Davis is an extremely tough style matchup for Evans because of his wrestling. I expect Evans to win a hard-fought decision. I don’t expect much in the excitement department for this fight, but we will see what happens.

Kyle Kingsbury: “Mr. Wonderful” wins by wonderfulness.

Nam Phan: I like both of these guys, but I’m gonna have to go with Rashad on this one.

Mike Ciesnolevicz: I heard [UFC President] Dana White said if Rashad wins, then he will fight “Bones” Jones next. For that reason, I hate this fight because Rashad will win. I would much rather see Dan Henderson get his title shot. He is coming off four huge wins in a row, he is the Strikeforce 205-pound champ and, at 41 years old, his time is now or never to challenge Jones. Back to the original fight: I say Davis does not have the striking yet to beat Rashad; the wrestling will cancel out, but Rashad picks him apart standing. I believe there will be lots of positional pummeling against the fence. I do not anticipate a lot of excitement, but it will still be interesting to see who can impose their game. Rashad wins by unanimous decision.

Ricardo Liborio: Davis by decision.

Joe Duarte: I got to go with Phil because he lives in San Diego ... and Steven Seagal said he’ll win.

Sean Pierson: I'm going with the upset here. Davis will out wrestle Rashad and frustrate him with his long reach and unique grapple style. Look for a late stoppage or decision for Davis on this. I think Rashad's chances rely on an early KO, [although] Rashad's strong work ethic could prove me wrong.

Pros Picking Evans: 12
Pros Picking Davis: 6

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