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article imageOp-Ed: Sonnen, Evans secure title shots with victories at UFC on Fox 2

By Andrew Ardizzi     Jan 29, 2012 in Sports
Prior to UFC on Fox 2, questions lingered as to who would challenge UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and longtime middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva. Those questions now have answers in the form of Chael Sonnen and Rashad Evans.
Heading into their respective fights last night against Michael Bisping and Phil Davis, both fighters were looking to chase elusive title shots; Silva, in Sonnen's opinion, has been dodging a rematch with the self-proclaimed middleweight champion, while injuries have prevented Evans from fighting for the title on multiple occasions. In the latter's case, one such injury allowed Jones to fight for the very same title in March 2011 against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. Jones, a former teammate of Evans' at Jackson's MMA, would secure the UFC championship decisively in a three round dismantling of the former Pride FC standout. A war of words quickly erupted between Evans and Jones, resulting in a highly publicized split between Evans and Jackson's, while the verbal jousting hasn't lessened since last spring.
Both fights are being planned for the spring, and although it's impossible to truly predict the outcome of any given fight, both promise fireworks. In the case of Sonnen-Silva, it will be their second encounter. They first met in August 2010 in a five-round title fight where Sonnen dominated the fight in all aspects, even flooring the seemingly untouchable Silva with a well-timed punch. For nearly five complete rounds Sonnen was in control until he made a critical mistake and was caught in a fight ending triangle choke with just under two minutes remaining in the final frame. Silva walked out with his belt, while Sonnen was left to dig deep into his verbal toolbox over the last 17 months to goad Silva into a rematch. Despite how the fight ended, it can't be disputed that Sonnen was well on his way to winning the UFC championship, and there's no reason he can't repeat that performance.
Fighters of the nature and calibre of Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen are tailored to defeat Silva, with both having turned in successful, dominant performances before ultimately falling to "The Spider" and his arsenal of attacks. The blueprint is devised, and all Sonnen needs to do is repeat his performance and he will easily walk out of Sao Paulo in June with the middleweight title around his waist. Silva, with no real takedown defence to speak of, has no way to stop Sonnen from grounding him and doing so for 25 minutes.
Similarly to Sonnen-Silva, the Evans-Jones clash promises as much verbal sparring pre-fight, while also surely offering fans another one-sided drubbing. Much like I expect Sonnen to dominate Silva when they meet, I don't foresee how Evans can defeat Jones, who to this point has dominated every fighter he's faced, while not even legitimately tasting defeat. Without taking anything away from Evans' skill-set nor his accomplishments, he's ill-equipped to deal with Jones' versatility or his length. Evans is a very good, very dangerous fighter who on any night can beat any name in the light heavyweight division, but I can't foresee him defeating the young champion who is simply better than Evans at all aspects of the fight game.
Although two new challengers were determined at the UFC's second foray onto Fox television, the outcomes of both potential fights are very predictable. Despite that both Silva and Evans can easily win their respective bouts with the tools at their disposal, I feel as though both outcomes are foregone conclusions, while both will leave the title pictures in either weight class as open as they were before the bouts.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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