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UFC bringing bright lights — Rashad Evans, Phil Davis — to United Center

Rashad Evans (left) spars during open workouts Wednesday Chicago Boxing Club. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

Rashad Evans (left) spars during open workouts Wednesday at the Chicago Boxing Club. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

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What: 10 fight mixed-martial-arts card.

When: 7 p.m. Saturday
(preliminaries begin at 3 p.m.).

Where: United Center.

TV: Fox-32, prelims on Fuel TV.

Tickets: Sold out.

Main card: Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis; Chael Sonnen vs. Michael Bisping; Demian Maia vs. Chris Weidman.

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Updated: February 28, 2012 8:23AM

In and out of the Octagon, the fighters at Saturday’s ‘‘UFC on FOX 2’’ event are destined to entertain Chicago fight fans.

After a 3½-year absence, the Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to Chicago with a sold-out card at the United Center. The three-fight, two-hour card will be broadcast on Fox-32 beginning at 7 p.m.

It marks the second fight on the Fox network, following up on November’s fight in which Junior Dos Santos won the heavyweight title by knocking out champion Cain Velasquez in 64 seconds. UFC president Dana White said he’s ­excited for the follow-up fights.

‘‘The first one drew 9 million viewers with one minute of fighting and an hour of talking,’’ White said. ‘‘We’re hoping this one draws much bigger numbers with a lot more fights.’’

Topping the card is a No. 1 light-heavyweight contender match between former champion Rashad Evans and rising undefeated prospect Phil Davis.

The Chicago-based Evans (16-1-1, 11-1-1 UFC) is known for his trash-talking swagger as much as his knockout ability. With twice as many professional MMA fights as his opponent, he looks for his experience to give him an edge.

‘‘When you get in a position in a fight where you get rocked, you don’t panic,’’ Evans said. ‘‘Being in a big fight where you’re fighting a big-name guy and he’s supposed to win and you’re the underdog — those are all things that give you character and add to the fighter you are. Not a lot of fighters can stand up on that stage.’’

The charismatic Davis (9-0, 5-0 UFC), a former national champion wrestler at Penn State, sees his inexperience as an advantage.

‘‘He hasn’t seen what I’m capable of doing,’’ Davis said. ‘‘He doesn’t really know what to expect. There’s an unknown value. He doesn’t know what I’m going to do. He’s going to have to be a little more cautious in what to expect.’’

Evans has verbally taunted opponents in the past but says he has no hatred of Davis.

‘‘I don’t have anything against Phil. But I’m fighting him, so it’s personal, but not like personal personal,’’ Evans said. ‘‘Phil is just a nice guy. He’s not a fighter. He’s an athlete, a great athlete, but not a fighter. He has no killer instinct for this, and he’s got no experience at this level. . . . He’s in deep water, and I’m the shark.’’

Also on the card, two of the more hated fighters in the UFC square off. The outspoken, motor-mouthed Chael Sonnen (26-11-1, 5-4 UFC) faces the brash Brit Michael Bisping (22-3, 12-3 UFC).

‘‘I think that people love to see the guys fight that they hate,’’ White said. ‘‘So many people hate Chael, and so many people hate Bisping. When I’m watching Twitter, people are like, ‘I don’t know who to root for.’ You’ve got other guys saying, ‘Now I’m a Bisping fan before, but now I’m a Chael fan.’ That’s what makes that fight so fun.’’

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