Saturday's UFC on Fox 2 show is going to be a can't-miss sporting event. The main card kicks off at 8 PM Eastern on Fox. Here's a look at the three big fights from the perspective of the underdog.
Phil Davis +175 (fighting Rashad Evans -165)
Saturday's main event is a fight that nearly happened five months ago back in August at UFC 133. As it turned out, Davis was injured and Tito Ortiz filled in as Rashad Evans's punching bag for the night. Phil Davis will fare better than Tito Ortiz did against "Suga" and Davis has the goods to win this fight. A win for Davis ruins the much-anticipated Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans showdown. Yet if Davis wins impressively, UFC fans will jump on Mr. Wonderful's bandwagon.
Rashad Evans has more UFC fights (13) than Phil Davis has in his pro career (9). Entering his sixth UFC fight, Davis is taking a big step up much like Evans did in his sixth UFC fight (vs. Tito Ortiz at UFC 73). With wins against top-level light heavyweights like Nogueira and Gustafsson, Davis has earned his shot at Evans and the #1 contender status.
Davis can beat Evans, especially if he has healthy and has made continued progress in his stand-up game since his last fight in March 2011. Against Evans, Davis will have the size advantage. The biggest question in this fight is who has the wrestling advantage? And it's an answer we'll only know once the fight starts. Five rounds is a long time for two skilled light heavyweights to battle without a finish, so if you are going with the underdog here, go with Davis by submission to hedge your bet.
Ben's fantasy pick: Phil Davis by submission round 5
Michael Bisping +394 (fighting Chael Sonnen -400)
Chael Sonnen is a 4-to-1 favorite over the British fighter. Usually a #1 contender fight has closer odds than this bout. Bisping is taking a big step up in competition here from the Jason Miller's and Jorge Rivera's of the UFC middleweight ranks. Bisping should be able to hang in the fight and take the beating that Sonnen plans to give him. The size advantage may go to Sonnen only because of the TRT. At 205, Bisping has had close fights with guys like Rashad Evans and Matt Hammill.
Bisping's best shot to win is a well-placed counter shot as Sonnen shoots for a takedown. With Chael Sonnen as my top lock of the night, I have zero faith in that happening. Still if you think "The Count" can pull the upset, at around +394, it's worth at least a parlay.
Ben's pick: Chael Sonnen by 30-25 decision.
Two more underdog breakdowns are after the jump...
Demian Maia +128 (fighting Chris Weidman -140)
If you just look at this fight on paper and have not seen either guy fight, the takeaway would be that Maia should be a healthy favorite over Chris Weidman. That's just not the case, as Weidman has impressed not only in the cage, but by taking those UFC fights on short-notice, just like he does this Saturday at UFC on Fox 2. Against Maia, Weidman gets a top ten opponent and a chance to become a household name
Maia is a UFC veteran who is known for Submission of the Night performances, although his last six UFC fights have all gone the distance. Both fighters are exceptional grapplers, so the chances of either guy getting surprised with a submission are nil.
Although Vegas has Maia as a modest underdog, over on Sherdog 65% of fantasy fight fans are picking Maia to win. Look for this fight to go to the distance, and either way you pick it, make it a low lock or without a "boost".
Ben's pick: Demian Maia by decision 29-28.
If you get the FUEL network on your cable or satellite service (channel 618 on DirecTV), check out the undercard Saturday afternoon. Here is one notable underdog from those fights.
Eric Wisely +420 over Charles Oliviera (lost 2 straight)
Wisely is making his UFC debut on Saturday' undercard against Charles Oliviera, who is a talented prospect mired in a losing skid. For a guy with wins against UFC caliber opponents like Hermes Franca and Matt Veach, Wisely is a pretty massive underdog at +420. With a pro record of 17 wins and 6 losses, Wisely is a tough dude who has never been finished, with all 6 defeats going the distance. Oliviera fights wildly and furiously, and Wisely will have ample opportunity to get some shots on the young Brazilian. If Wisely lasts all 3 rounds against Oliviera, there will be lots of striking exchanges and opportunites for Wisely to land a fight-changing punch against an opponent coming off a first-round knockout. If you feel like rolling the dice, Eric Wisely is a gamble worth taking.
Ben's fantasy pick: Eric Wisely by split decision