Is the UFC grooming another light heavyweight prospect in Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis?

No, it's not a superhero, that's "Mr. Wonderful" Phil Davis. Photo credit: UFC

You bet.

The UFC currently has a lot of hype surrounding one of its young light heavyweight’s in Jon “Bones” Jones. However, there’s another light heavyweight out there that’s quickly moving up the ranks by the name of Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis.

Davis is currently undefeated with a career record of 8-0 going 4-0 inside the UFC.

Davis was scheduled to fight Jason Brilz earlier this month, but has now been chosen to replace an injured Tito Ortiz against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in the main event of the UFC Fight Night 24.

That event will take place in Seattle, Washington, on March 26th airing on Spike TV.

Here’s what I had to say when the Davis/Brilz fight was announced:

“After this…they need to give Davis a step up in comp…Brilz is no slouch…BUT…no way he stops Davis from taking him down…hopefully we see more striking from Davis in this one also though…if Davis wins..they should give him the winner of Nogueira/Ortiz.”

So I was sort of prophetic in this one, but it was a logical advancement up the ladder as well. Davis hasn’t really been challenged thus far in his UFC career, and a fight against Nogueira is a perfect opportunity to announce his arrival on the contender scene if he’s victorious.

Davis is a more heralded college wrestler than the aforementioned Jones, winning the NCAA D1 197lb. championship in 2008. He was also a four time D1 All-American at Penn State University with a career record of 116-17.

He has displayed those wrestling skills in the UFC, and has also shown an advanced submission game in his young career. Davis earned his blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu from Lloyd Irvin in 2009.

He has admitted on several occasions that he needs to develop his overall game, specifically his striking, to compete on the highest levels. He’s done training at the American Kickboxing Academy, as well as his Alliance MMA team since he began fighting professionally.

He’ll face an accomplished striker in Nogueira, but Nogueira is also equally dangerous on the ground. So this fight is a perfect litmus test to see where Davis is in his young career, and it’ll answer a lot of questions.

Can Davis take a good punch? We saw Nogueira put away the iron chinned Luiz Cane with one shot back at UFC 106. Can Davis avoid getting submitted while on the ground in Nogueira’s guard?

If Davis is victorious, the UFC will have four fighters (Davis, Jones, Bader, Silva) at or near the top ten light heavyweight rankings under the age of 29. I’d say that’s a pretty good job of grooming the division, because many of the top light heavyweight contenders now are in their early thirties.

The beauty of the match-making here is that if Davis does lose, it will be against a highly ranked fighter. He’s still young enough to rebound from the loss and sharpen his game. A win though, sling-shots him up the light heavyweight ladder pretty quickly.

Well done Joe Silva.

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