Dana White made a few things clear during Thursday's news conference in Chicago -- or, at least clearer -- about what's at stake on Saturday. The rest will have to be inferred.
The most up-to-date picture looks like this: The winner of Chael Sonnen and Michael Bisping will fight for the middleweight title in June (tentatively). That fight will happen in Sao Paulo -- even if Bisping pulls the upset, leaving British fans plenty of time to acquire their Brazilian visas. This will all happen unless the winner suffers a significant injury, or Anderson Silva doesn’t recover in time from the bursitis ailment that has sidelined him. Sonnen’s safety in Sao Paulo isn’t even an issue, whether it’s in front of 100,000 ticked off partisans or not. If things don’t go exactly as planned, Dan Henderson lurks in the same vague way he has been lurking for months now.
In the light heavyweight division, the winner of Phil Davis and Rashad Evans gets an immediate crack at Jon Jones. Unless it’s Davis, and Davis doesn’t win emphatically. Then it could be Henderson -- but, according to White, “we’ll see what happens.”
Davis’ wrestling style at Penn State belongs in a Hefty bag (according to Evans) and Evans is on drugs (according to Davis). It’s up in the air at which card the winner will challenge Jones, but Montreal might still be in the running. Or maybe Atlanta in April.
And that’s where things stand heading into the big UFC on Fox 2 event this weekend. A lot at stake, and a lot depends on a lot. In other words, things are exactly where things stood before the news conference. Three of the four guys are guaranteed title shots, while Davis -- who’s still green enough not to care -- will need to raise some eyebrows in victory to procure his. It’s up to him to outdo the one-armed Kimura that did in Tim Boetsch.
But in the re-emphasis of hypothetical outcomes, White did make it clear that Brazil is where Silva would be defending his title. There have been a lot of inquiries as to whether or not the UFC would consider holding the 185-pound title fight in England should Bisping win. It won’t. Whether it’s Bisping or Sonnen, they will be made into interlopers come June in a fight that’s expected to draw the biggest crowd ever assembled for a UFC event. They are fighting for the chance to become sacrifices, which is exhilarating.
Otherwise, it looks like this -- Evans is on drugs, Davis’ wrestling is trash, Bisping knows where Sonnen can stick that fake belt and, speaking of Sonnen, don’t believe a word that he says because, according to Dana White, “Chael is nuts.” That much he was perfectly clear on. And whatever all this tells us, whether it’s informative or new, it sets the table for a big night of fights with a lot of unfiltered characters.
That’s part of what makes this sport interesting, and why it bursting in on a million conservative homes is fun to think about. We just can’t predict how things will play out.