The collective MMA world had already anointed Phil Davis as the next legitimate threat to take down the seemingly unbeatable Jon Jones prior to his victory over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira last night. However, many have changed their opinions of Davis after his performance against Nogueira.
I’m not one of them.
Do I think Davis could defeat Jones RIGHT now? Probably not, but I don’t think he would get utterly destroyed like everyone else has right now either. Anyone looking at Jones vs. Shogun Rua and Davis vs. Nogueira then equating that to Jones running through Davis the same way he did Rua just makes absolutely no sense. If that were the case Wanderlei Silva would have blitzed Chuck Liddell the same way he did Keith Jardine right? But wait, Jardine beat Liddell!
Some things to ponder.
-Davis just beat one of the most proven light heavyweights in the world fairly decisively last night. On short notice I might add.
-He shut Nogueira’s game down, dominating him in rounds 2 and 3 and out-struck him in all of the rounds. You can check the stats here.
-Anyone expecting Davis to run through Nogueira the same way Jones did Rua forgot that the only time that Nogueira’s been finished was the fluke KO loss to Sokoudjou back in PRIDE.
-Davis said he was injured during the camp. I realize 99% of the fighters go into fights injured, so that’s not an excuse. Clearly it could have been a factor in his performance though.
-In Jon Jones 9th fight, he was fighting Jake O’Brien.
-It was the first time Davis was in the main event of a card.
It’ll be a while before Davis fights Jones anyways, so the guy has time to continue to evolve his game and gain more experience. The most impressive thing about Davis last night was his composure. It was his first career main event. It would have been easy for him to become discouraged when Nogueira shut down his take-down game in the first round. However, Davis showed maturity in making an adjustment during the fight unlike Diego Sanchez against Martin Kampmann. Davis switched from double-leg take-downs to single-leg take-downs, and that was the difference in his success rate right there.
There was nothing about Phil Davis’s performance last night that made me think any less of him in regards to him being a threat to Jon Jones. The reason why I see Davis as a threat is simple. He has the size, length, grappling, and wrestling skills to compete with Jones.
It’s all about how styles match-up. Now Davis may go out and lose his next fight, but stylistically he matches up the best of all the light heavyweights in the UFC right now to Jones.
Personally, I’d like to see him continue to climb the light heavyweight ladder and face Forrest Griffin next. Griffin is coming off a win in his last fight. It’s a good match-up stylistically for Davis. A win there and then maybe one more win, and then we can talk Davis vs. Jones.
So don’t put the cart before the horse here. Just appreciate the young fighter’s efforts last night, let him continue to improve, and if he gets the chance to fight Jones. Let the chips fall where they may.