Opening Round: MMA Kind of Town

The city of Chicago will turn their attention away from Blackhawks, Bulls, and Bears for a night to focus on a different variety of beast when the UFC rolls into the United Center on Saturday night for UFC on FOX 2, the first official offering from UFC/FOX since aligning late last year. It’s a solid card from top to bottom filled with competitive clashes from start to finish.

Below you’ll find some quick picks for the evening’s earlier fights followed by a more detailed breakdown of the evening’s tripleheader of tilts between Demian Maia-Chris Weidman, Chael Sonnen-Michael Bisping, and Rashad Evans-Phil Davis.

After reading my predictions make sure to check back at MMATraining tomorrow starting at approximately 5:00 PM EST when preliminary results start rolling in to see if things unfolded as I’ve expected (or as you may have guessed instead depending on where your opinions differ from mine).

Chris Camozzi def. Dustin Jacoby via Unanimous Decision
Shane Roller def. Michael Johnson via Unanimous Decision
Charles Oliveira def. Eric Wisely via Unanimous Decision
George Roop def. Cub Swanson via TKO Round 2
Joey Beltran def. Lavar Johnson via Split Decision
John Olav Einemo def. Mike Russow via Submission Round 2
Nik Lentz def. Evan Dunham via Unanimous Decision

Demian Maia vs. Chris Weidman

It’s interesting how much focus has been on the challenge Weidman faces in preparing himself for a submission specialist like Maia on short notice without acknowledging the same difficulty Maia may have with an accomplished wrestler after spending six weeks getting ready for a striker. Factor in that Weidman trains under Matt Serra and has been focused on BJJ since exiting college and I think the table may actually be turned as far as who has the advantage entering the bout, plus there’s a good deal of tape on Maia while Weidman only has seven pro fights. I’m going with the upset special in this one, as I see Weidman’s takedowns and submission-defense being enough to earn him a hard fought decision win. His route to victory won’t be pretty but it will definitely be effective.

Winner – Chris Weidman def. Demian Maia via Unanimous Decision

Chael Sonnen vs. Michael Bisping

I appreciate Bisping’s willingness to step up and replace Mark Munoz with less than two weeks to get fully ready for an opponent like Sonnen. That being said, it was a commendable but otherwise foolish decision on his part. Sonnen’s ability to put a foe on his back and grind on him for fifteen minutes is a significant threat to any adversary he faces while Bisping’s takedown defense is good but not great. Sonnen also isn’t one to get knocked out, so I think the Brit’s striking will be less of a factor than some may think, and even though the “true middleweight champion” struggles to defend against submissions from the bottom I’m not confident in Bisping’s back-work to give him a nod.

Winner – Chael Sonnen def. Michael Bisping via Unanimous Decision

Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis

I think this fight is going to come down to power since I suspect both men will end up taking the other down at least once in the fight. Evans may not be as good a pure wrestler as Davis but he’s done an excellent job honing his grappling skills inside the cage. He’s also got crisp hands and knockout power, something the public has yet to see from Davis (who relies more on precision than the big punch as far as striking goes). I envision Evans dropping Davis at some point during an exchange before springing on top of him to pick up the TKO win.

Winner – Rashad Evans def. Phil Davis via TKO Round 2

What do you think about the subject on today’s “Opening Round”? Tell us on our Twitter account (@mmatraining)!

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