Cagewriter

  • CHICAGO -- It's all about staying off your back and top control in tonight's three big fights on the UFC on Fox 2 card.

    If they control the pace in fights, top level wrestlers have the ability to steal rounds and money. A mix of underdogs and favorites (Chael Sonnen, Phil Davis and Chris Weidman) with excellent college wrestling backgrounds, will be an interesting follow on the betting scene.

    Sonnen's controlled the pace so well in his recent fights, it's made him just about unbeatable and a huge favorite over Michael Bisping. We'll find out tonight if Bisping's takedown defense allows him to stay in the fight. Hopefully keeps his cool. Sonnen along with yesterday's weigh-in crowd at the Chicago Theater really got under the Brit's skin.

    As an underdog, Phil Davis will be looking to do slow things down against Rashad Evans. Chris Weidman's in the most interesting position because the former Hofstra star could probably stay on top of Demian Maia the entire fight, but that's incredibly dangerous place to be against a top level jiu-jitsu fighter. In spite of that Weidman is a pretty solid favorite over the UFC veteran.

    Former UFC bantamweight champ Miguel Torres joined Yahoo! Sports' Kevin Iole and myself on ESPN1100/98.9 FM to pick the fights using the Las Vegas' numbers.

    UFC on Fox 2 odds:
    Best plays in bold

    Rashad Evans (-205) vs. Phil Davis (+175) - Light heavyweight
    Michael Bisping (+360) vs. Chael Sonnen (-450) - Middleweight

    Read More »from UFC on Fox 2 picks, Vegas-style: Bisping really getting annoyed by Sonnen’s wrestling lines
  • CHICAGO -- Dana White had to be smiling inside to see Chris Weidman make weight for his UFC on Fox 2 fight. Weidman, called just 11 days ago as a late replacement, had to drop from 217 pounds to make tomorrow's battle against Demian Maia an official middleweight fight.

    It just two weeks ago that the promotion had to endure the embarrassment of watching Anthony Johnson missed weight badly at UFC 142.

    Weidman was actually called with the offer while sitting at his dinner table. His wife was making some delicious Sloppy Joes. When Weidman committed to the fight, he had to go right to work.

    "I just headed to the gym and ate a spoonful of peanut butter, and that was it," a glum Weidman told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

    The former Hofstra wrestler is trying to make a big step up the middleweight ladder with a victory over Maia. We'll find out tomorrow if the severe weight cut will affect him on fight night.

    Phil Davis went with the wrestling theme. Rashad Evans, a former Michigan State wrestler, tried to rip on Davis and his college wrestling career. It was a strange approach considering Davis was a four-time All-American and national champ in 2008. Davis, who's done a brilliant job of poking fun at Evans, pulled out his old Nittany Lions' garb for the fight today.

    This from wrestling guru Maggie Hendricks:

    So that singlet is Penn State's championship singlet, one that only gets broken out if a guy wrestles in the finals. Since Davis wrestled in the NCAA finals twice, he has at least one. Most schools have them, but PSU's is very recognizable because they don't have a ton of singlet options, like other schools. As a fellow Big 10er, Evans would know that. Wearing that one, and not Penn State's more traditional dark blue singlet, was a sly way of Davis saying, "Yes, I am the better wrestler."

    2008 NCAA national champ Davis on the UFC scales in Chicago

    A weigh-in wouldn't be complete with a dust up or some heat arising. Michael Bisping took care of that by angrily reacting to the booing crowd at the Chicago Theater. The Brit flipped off the fans.

    UFC on Fox 2 weigh-in (Courtesy MMAjunkie):

    Read More »from UFC on Fox 2 weigh-in: Weidman ditches the Sloppy Joes to drop 32 pounds in 11 days
  • CHICAGO -- Maybe it's a good thing Michael Bisping and Chael Sonnen didn't have months to promote their fight tomorrow night on the UFC on Fox 2 at the United Center. One can only imagine the depths the trash talk would've sunk to.

    Sonnen's testosterone replacement therapy is the popular subject this week for the Brit, who suggests that the American is less than a complete male. Early in the week on HDNet, Bisping alleged that Sonnen has a physical abnormality.

    "[...] He's been submitted more times than I care to mention. Not to mention, the last time he lost a fight by submission, there were some issues involving performance enhancing drugs," Bisping said. "I don't know what the deal is. Apparently, he has one testicle. One testicle! This is why he uses performance enhancing drugs. He's gonna need more than one little ball to fight me next weekend!"

    Read More »from Bisping continues to question Sonnen’s manhood over low testosterone
  • CHICAGO -- Dana White has his mind made up. You're never going to know what UFC fighters truly make and that's just the way it has to be.

    "So just because you don't know everything, you don't have to know anything, and to be honest with you? It's none of your [expletive] business how much these guys are making. They're making a lot of money. [...] How much money is none of your business. I'm not asking how much money you're making," said White (3:10 mark).

    White believes that the salary information, so readily available in the other pro sports has ruined things for the athletes. He pointed to the recent $214 million megadeal inked by Detroit Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder.

    "His whole life is going to change. He thought it was bad before with the (expletive) he had going on in his life? Everybody and their mother is coming after that 214," White said (2:10 mark). "Believe me when I tell you. Mark my words, Prince Fielder talk to me in five years and tell me what it was like when the news put out there that you were making $214 million dollars. I'm not going to do that to my guys."

    The UFC often gets a bad rap for fighter pay because the only numbers revealed are those given to state commissions. The promotion beefs up the pay with behind-the-scenes discretionary and pay-per-view bonuses. White is often asked if all the complaints about pay would go away if Zuffa simply revealed all the details.

    Read More »from A confident Dana White defends policy of confidentiality on fighter pay and welcomes government scrutiny
  • Evans and Davis with some verbal sparring

    CHICAGO -- In most interviews Phil Davis comes off as a reserved young man. He's not out to ruffle any feathers, but those of us who've had a chance to speak to him repeatedly always knew there was a potential media darling behind that conservative facade.

    In the lead-up to Saturday's UFC on Fox 2 card, Rashad Evans has brought out the beast in Davis and the former UFC light heavyweight hasn't reacted too well.

    It started last week when Evans flipped out on Davis calling him a "boy." Yesterday during the UFC on Fox 2 prefight press conference, Evans shook his head, appeared annoyed and even looked flustered on several occasions.

    [Related: UFC on Fox 2 carries huge implications for blockbuster fights]

    As the banter began, Evans tried to play it cool.

    "For the most part, I've got nothing against Phil, but you we've got a fight so I've got a lot against him right now. It's personal, but not really PERSONAL personal," said Evans, who had heated prefight words with previous opponents like Tito Ortiz and Quinton Jackson.

    Evans got irked when the issue of college wrestling came up. Phil Davis, a more accomplished NCAA star at Penn State than Evans was at Michigan State, laughed when someone asked if his opponent could beat him in a straight wrestling match. Evans kept saying "your technique is trash."

    Read More »from If Round 1 is the war of words, Phil Davis leads 10-8 over Rashad Evans
  • Jon-Olav Einemo’s harrowing trip to UFC on Fox 2

    Einemo talks about his trip (Getty)CHICAGO -- While his opponent, Mike Russow, is fighting in his hometown, Jon-Olav Einemo had to travel from his camp in Holland to get to Chicago for Saturday's bout. The trip was memorable for all the wrong reasons.

    "I came from the UK, and we were about three or four hours into the flight. We were over the Atlantic Ocean, and it started to smell burnt on the plane," Einemo said. "The stewardess was running around, telling us there was nothing to be worried about. We had to turn back and make an emergency landing in Ireland, then wait there for four hours. It was a long break."

    Einemo didn't see any flames shooting from the plane, but said the experience spooked him and the other passengers a bit.

    "I was watching a movie, I had my headset on, and I started to smell something. I looked around, looked at the eyes of four other people, but it was OK."

    Fighting against Russow, a Chicago police officer, Einemo knows he won't have the crowd on his side. He wore a shirt that read, "Chicago Rum Runners," to Thursday's press conference. Since law enforcement won't be on his side, he joked that he needs to appeal to other fans.

    "Not everybody likes the police, so I have to try to get the other ones on my side!"

    Read More »from Jon-Olav Einemo’s harrowing trip to UFC on Fox 2
  • A fired up Dana White at Chicago press conferenceCHICAGO -- The war is on between the UFC and Internet hackers.

    On Sunday, UFC.com was re-routed several times to the website UGnazi. The site's organizers, who White called terrorists several times during the "UFC on Fox 2" press conference, said the hacking of UFC.com is a result of the company's support of SOPA and PIPA. The wide-ranging bills are aimed at stopping online piracy.

    White lashed out at the hackers.

    Update: White dug in deeper during a conversation with The Score's Mauro Ranallo (13:30 mark).

    "Keep hacking our site, do it again. Do it tonight," said White. "These guys look like terrorists now and a bill that was about to die, is about to come back."

    The hacker taking credit for the UFC hit, @joshthgod, went a different route after the challenge, posting White's personal info, including a Social Security number, a list of residential addresses, a vehicle identification number and a personal phone number.

    That followed a tweet that said White is now the target.

    Read More »from Dana White calls out Internet hackers, they respond by releasing his alleged personal info
  • Chael Sonnen: Great promoter or greatest promoter?

    That belt's origins are still unknown. (Getty)CHICAGO -- "Chael's nuts."

    UFC president Dana White started off the press conference with the statement that everyone in MMA has thought, but not said. Sonnen, who walked out with a UFC championship belt and the words, "Undisputed, undefeated!" flowing from his mouth, showed again he is the best promoter in MMA.

    White barely had to say anything to promote Saturday's bouts on Fox, because the Sonnen Show took center stage. His opponent on Saturday, Michael Bisping, tried to keep up with Sonnen, but his attempts were futile.

    Sonnen explained where he picked up the belt ... kind of.

    "Well, for

    Read More »from Chael Sonnen: Great promoter or greatest promoter?
  • Debunking Rashad Evans’ claims about Phil Davis’ wrestling

    Ph12612CHICAGO -- Rashad Evans and Phil Davis both wrestled in the Big Ten in college, a fact that has been discussed several times over in the build-up to their UFC on Fox 2 bout on Saturday. Davis has questioned Evans' credentials, while Evans called Davis' technique trash.

    During Thursday's press conference, Evans even went as far to call competition Davis faced during his tenure weak.

    "You wrestled in a year that was kind of soft," Evans said. "Your technique is trash."

    Unfortunately, the facts don't support Evans' claims.

    Davis was a four-time All-American at Penn State, which means he placed in the top eight of the country in every year he wrestled. It's a difficult feat, no matter the competition. But the wrestlers Davis faced every year that he earned All-American status are names that are familiar to MMA fans.

    Davis won the national title as a senior, beating three-time All-American Wynn Michalak from Central Michigan along the way. Max Askren, Ben's brother who won the title in 2010, also placed in the top eight that year.

    In 2007, he shared the podium with the same man he shared the dais with today: UFC middleweight Chris Weidman, who beat future world team member J.D. Bergman on the way to a third-place finish. Davis lost in the finals in 2006 to Jake Rosholt, a UFC and WEC veteran and a three-time NCAA champion. When Davis took seventh his freshman year, he beat UFC light heavyweight Ryan Bader in the second round of the tournament.

    Evans has talked about how he is better at MMA wrestling than Davis, and he'll get to test out that theory on Saturday. However, questioning his wrestling credentials is a waste of trash talk. A man with a national title, four All-Americans and two Big Ten titles has already proven himself on the mat.

    Read More »from Debunking Rashad Evans’ claims about Phil Davis’ wrestling
  • ‘UFC on Fox 2′s’ Mike Russow balances police work and fighting

    Mike Russow at open workouts (Getty)CHICAGO -- As a rookie police officer, Mike Russow was assigned to work a Chicago Bulls game at the United Center in 2003. On Saturday, he will be back at the United Center. This time, instead of keeping the peace, he'll fight Jon Olav Einemo at "UFC on Fox 2."

    While putting together a record of 14-1 with three wins in the UFC, Russow has kept his day job in the Chicago Police Department. Russow currently patrols the third district on the city's South Side. He is understandably hesitant to give specifics about the details of his daily work,  but said that he has been recognized as a fighter when on the job.

    "I had someone who I was arresting for a warrant, and he saw the Chicago Sun-Times picture that day. He noticed," Russow said.

    Though Russow can't use his Octagon-worthy moves on offenders, he says police work and fighting share a mental side.

    "You have to be calm. There's a lot of situations with police work where it's scary. You're clearing a house, by yourself, it's dark, no lights, and you don't know if the offender is in there. It's just like in the cage."

    His calm demeanor came in handy when Russow fought Todd Duffee at UFC 114.

    "When I was fighting Todd Duffee, he was beating my ass. I stayed calm, hung in there, and got a lucky punch. I think that's how it helps. Being mentally tough."

    He broke his left arm early in the bout, and was having trouble with his right arm. Still he knew he had to pull something out to get the win.

    "It was like an effortless punch. The right technique, and the right time, and I hit him and he went down. I was coming off of elbow surgery, and I couldn't extend my right arm all the way. My left arm broke. I knew something was wrong. Right before that I thought, I got to do something."

    Read More »from ‘UFC on Fox 2′s’ Mike Russow balances police work and fighting