The experience and solid wrestling of "Suga" carried him to a 50-45 sweep on all three judges scorecards. It capped off a tepid fight card on which all three televised matches went the distance.
Evans stymied Davis' takedown attempts in the bout, using excellent counter-grappling to consistently win out on positional battles. He's now slotted as the UFC 145 main event April 21 against Jon Jones, challenging for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight title.
However, it wasn't the only mixed martial arts (MMA) action to hit primetime network television. Not even close.
Here's a closer look at how the UFC on FOX 2 competitors graded out:Michael Bisping: B+
Bisping lost a surprisingly wide decision on the judges' cards against Chael Sonnen, with cards of 30-27 and 29-28 twice, prompting UFC head honcho Dana White to tweet that the judge with the 30-27 should "never judge a fight again." Bisping's takedown defense was especially good, as was his ability to limit Sonnen's ability to strike from top position.
He had a strong second round, but Sonnen, according to the judges, pushed enough in the third with a pair of takedowns to cinch the decision.
Performance-wise, this was a good showing for the Brit. He landed punches in spots, and didn't get steamrolled as the prefight match up "predictions" would suggest. Ironically, while Sonnen likely earned a title shot with Anderson Silva (pending any post-fight announcements to the contrary). We're not quite ready to anoint him as ready for Silva, but I had Bisping winning this fight 29-28, for what it's worth.
And I was sure Sonnen would win handily.
Rashad Evans B+
"Suga" showed veteran know-how and seasoning in shutting down Davis, stuffing several takedown attempts en route to a one-sided sweep on the scorecards.
The good news is that he finally gets a title shot against Jon "Bones" Jones. However, Evans' stand up didn't fully materialize tonight, perhaps because he was content to let Davis lead and counter effectively in spots.
He'll need the full complement of skills against Jones. However, as the main event veteran, he performed well enough, but like Sonnen, didn't add any hype to the mix as he heads into a title shot.
Chael Sonnen: C+
It was an utter lackluster showing by the middleweight, who edged out Bisping in a somewhat uneventful bout.
Bisping essentially ran a four-corner stall on the ground, but it was effective enough to keep Sonnen from scoring consistently and visibly enough to definitely seize the momentum. One night is precisely that, but promotionally, this was far short of the dominant performance the UFC needed to optimally hype a Sonnen-Silva rematch.
It will still happen, and be a huge showdown, but the promotion got nothing for the highlight reel to build it tonight.
Demian Maia: C-
In a snoozer of a bout that opened the telecast, Maia's fight with Chris Weidman never got out of second gear. All three cards were 29-28, with two for Weidman, nudging the unbeaten middleweight's record to 8-0. Though both are outstanding ground fighters, there was little effective action on the mat, with much of the fight taking place on the feet with limited meaningful striking.
The UFC middleweights are the thinnest division, and an impressive win can boost a fighter over several more notches than in other weight classes.
Maia and Weidman had a big opportunity here, and both dropped the ball.
Chris Weidman: C+
In his defense, Weidman took the bout on short notice, and his limited gas tank hampered him. The prospect gutted through a bout where he had a difficult weight cut, but it was a solid win.
The style match made it hard for him to rely on his great wrestling -- where ideally he could plant an opponent and pace himself to a wrestling-heavy win -- because Maia's bottom game was too tricky. In his UFC debut, Weidman decisioned tough Alessio Sakara.
"His striking has improved a lot," said Weidman in his post-fight interview with the Fuel TV broadcast team. "It was definitely a tough test." Whomever he fights next, he's definitely earned the right to a full camp and proper time to train and peak properly.
Phil Davis: C+
In a year or two, Davis fans will point to tonight's five-round decision as a learning experience.
As it stands, Davis came up flat in the loss, the first of his career, to the former 205-pound champion. He couldn't get untracked in the stand up department, and though he landed a few solid kicks, his standing technique eroded considerably (along with his output) as the fight progressed.
Evans' experience and savvy allowed him to fight off several takedown attempts, and with a penchant for beating Davis in transitional battles, he ended up in the crucifix position twice, hitting Davis with strikes to cinch rounds.
Now 9-1, Davis is one of the rare fighters to get his first loss via five-round decision, and showed some mettle; however, he'll need to regroup and put together better stand up and an integrated overall game. Losing to a former champ in five is the kind of gut check that will pay off in the future, given Davis' talent.
It just wasn't enough tonight.
For complete UFC on FOX 2: "Evans vs. Davis" results and blow-by-blow coverage of the main card action click here.
Jason Probst can be reached at www.twitter.com/jasonprobst.com.