The Ultimate Fighting Championship event at the United Center will feature Chicagoan Rashad Evans (left) vs. Phil Davis. | Al Podgorski~Sun-Times
Updated: January 9, 2012 10:14AM
After a three-year absence, the Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to Chicago with a three-for-one deal.
Chicago fight fans can watch three main-event-worthy fights on one card. The event will air at 7 p.m. Jan. 28 on Fox-32. The card also marks the UFC’s first visit to the United Center.
“It was time. We were due to come back to Chicago. Obviously, this is the venue to be in, too,” UFC president Dana White said in a public news conference Wednesday at the UC. “When we were looking at cities to bring a big Fox fight to, Chicago was a no-brainer.”
“UFC on FOX 2” looks to build on the UFC’s first event on the network. While its November event aired just one fight during the 60-minute time slot, the UFC expanded the January event to a two-hour, three-fight card.
On Wednesday, the fighters on the dais spoke of their excitement to showcase their skills on the nationally televised broadcast.
“Everybody up here is grateful to be up here on Fox. They’re like ‘Fox, thanks.’ Everybody but me,” middleweight Chael Sonnen said. “I would say Fox should welcome me. They’ve been telling people for years you’ve got the American Idol, and now you finally do.”
Two No. 1 contender fights head up the card.
Former Big Ten wrestlers will square off for a light-heavyweight title shot. Former light-heavyweight champion Rashad Evans, a Chicago resident and former Michigan State wrestler, takes on Phil Davis, an NCAA champion wrestler at Penn State, in a five-round match.
Evans, a notorious trash-talker, took some verbal jabs at his opponent — and Davis’ alma mater — when he questioned the strength of Evans’ chin.
“I guarantee you’re the first one to take a shot,” Evans said. “I’m going to put my hands on you worse than that dude did to those kids at Penn State.”
In the co-main event, the brash, loquacious bad-boy Sonnen — with whom White compared to Muhammad Ali in regard to his quick wit and trash talking — battles Mark Muñoz for a shot at Anderson Silva’s middleweight title.
On Wednesday, the UFC announced a third fight on the card. Middleweight Michael Bisping will face jiu-jitsu specialist Demian Maia. Bisping comes off a stint coaching on “The Ultimate Fighter” and gets a quick turnaround after his victory Saturday against rival coach Jason “Mayhem” Miller. White said the Sonnen-Muñoz winner would receive a middleweight title shot, after which the Bisping-Maia winner would be next in line.
While the UFC slated only three fights for the Fox broadcast, the UFC will put on a full undercard for the UC fans. White promised a fight week full of local events — public fighter workouts, news conferences and weigh-ins.
White also told the fans in attendance that their wait for another UFC event would not be as long as the 38 months since its last visit with UFC 90 in October 2008 in Rosemont.
“UFC on FOX 2” tickets, which range in price from $40 to $250, will go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday at the United Center ticket office or through Ticketmaster (ticketmaster.com or 800-745-3000).