UFC returns to city for first time since 2008
CHICAGO – The UFC's first official event on the Fox network will also showcase a jam-packed United Center on Saturday.
The UFC on Monday announced that UFC on Fox: Evans vs. Davis, which takes place at the United Center in Chicago, has sold out. The event will be the first full fight card to be televised on Fox under the UFC's new seven-year broadcast deal with the network. The three-fight main card will be part of a two-hour broadcast, and the eight-fight preliminary card will get an FX-broadcast lead-in on cable.
"The fans in Chicago have wanted us to come back there for a long time and they proved why it’s a great sports town by selling out the United Center," UFC president Dana White said in a release from the UFC.
The UFC last visited the Chicago area for UFC 90 in October 2008, a pay-per-view headlined by a middleweight title fight between Anderson Silva and Patrick Cote. But that event didn't take place in Chicago proper – it was at the Allstate Arena in northwest suburban Rosemont. Additionally, Zuffa properties have visited the Chicago area for WEC 40 in April 2009, which took place at the downtown UIC Pavilion, and Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson last July, which took place in Hoffman Estates, about 45 minutes outside the city.
UFC on Fox: Evans vs. Davis features a light heavyweight contenders fight between former champion Rashad Evans and Phil Davis. If Evans wins and comes out relatively unscathed, he has been guaranteed a shot at the title held by his former friend and training partner Jon Jones. A Davis win, or Evans win accompanied by an injury that would keep him out more than a month likely would mean former Strikeforce 205-pound champ Dan Henderson would get the next crack at Jones.
The co-main event has title implications that are a little more clear-cut. The middleweight fight between Chael Sonnen and Michael Bisping will determine the next challenger for Silva. That title fight is likely to take place in a soccer stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, sometime this summer – likely June. Sonnen was originally scheduled to face Mark Munoz, but Munoz had to pull out last week with an injury. Bisping moved up from his spot against Demian Maia in Chicago to face Sonnen. And Maia remains on the "tripleheader" main card to face late replacement Chris Weidman.
Fans attending UFC on Fox this week in Chicago can attend Thursday's press conference, which starts at 1 p.m. Central time at the W Hotel in Chicago. And on Friday, the weigh-ins are free and open to the public at the Chicago Theatre. Doors for general admission fans open at 3 p.m. Central with the weigh-ins starting at 4. Additionally, members of the UFC Fight Club can attend a Q&A session with bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz at 2 p.m. Friday prior to weigh-ins. On Wednesday, the main-card fighters will work out for the media – however, that event is not open to the public.
HeavyMMA will be on the scene in Chicago all week for extended coverage of the UFC's historic first full fight card on Fox.