A positive perspective on the performance of Phil Davis against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

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.

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  • ed

    great article Kevin!!

  • edub

    I’m not calling your point wrong, or trying to be an asshole for no reason but I think I can offer some counter points here:

    “-Davis just beat one of the most proven light heavyweights in the world fairly decisively last night. On short notice I might add.”

    -The only thing Nog has proven since arriving in the UFC is that he was a problem with wrestlers. He defended the takedown for a while in the first round of their fight (winning the first round on my card), but as soon as davis switched to the single he was a fish out of water. This is his third straight loss in the LHW division IMO (because I thought he lost to Brilz).

    “-In Jon Jones 9th fight, he was fighting Jake O’Brien.”

    Yes Jake O’Brien isn’t anywhere near the name value of little Nog, but he is a former D1 wrestler who’s only two losses prior were to a prime Arlovski and Cain Velasquez. Jon Jones was fighting Stephan Bonnar in his 8th professional fight, and Davis was fighting Tim Boestch who is a hell of a lot worse than Bonnar. It goes both ways.

    “-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.”

    I agree with this. He looked like he was on shaky footing for most of the fight (even in winning it). However, if he looks the same or similar in his next fight we know it wasn’t the injury that was making him look bad.

    “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.”

    This weekend IMO showed that Phil will never get to the level Jones is. He has the length and background to compete with Bones, but the power, speed, and most oddly the wrestling seem to be just too far apart where MMA is concerned. To me, Davis has the style that feeds perfectly into Jones’s game.

  • Edub….you know I take nothing personal…thanks for the comments…that’s why we have them…

    -Nog is a proven veteran..beat the likes of Henderson, Overeem(2x), gave a prime Shogun all he could handle..that’s much more impressive than Jake O’Brien…yea he lost to AA and Cain..but who had he beat besides laying and praying a shot Heath Herring?

    -I would argue that Bonnar and Boestch are about the same level…Bonnar has fought better competition but lost to all of them…and hadn’t really beaten anyone either..

    -I think Jones style would feed into the Davis’s fight style…that over aggressiveness could cost Jones with him possibly ending up on his back…from there..who knows what would happen.

  • edub

    No doubt:

    -The difference I have with your opinion on Nog is every win you just mentioned is at least 4 years old, and in most cases over 5. Lil Nog is no longer the same fighter he was back then as evidenced by his recent performances against Brilz, Bader, and Davis.

    -I gotta disagree there. Bonnar and Boestch are both gatekeepers, but one is gatekeeper to the elite and the other is gatekeeper to the good. Boestch’s best win is over David Heath or Aaron Stark, while Stephan has wins over Soszynski, and a prime Jardine. Also Stephans cut loss to Krystof aside, every person he has loss to has at one time or another been a champion in the UFC.

    – But the over aggressive ness usually would feed into thing like double legs. Davis was deep on Nog a couple times and was shaken off like a rag doll. That would lead you to believe that Jones could just turn him right over like he did with Matyushenko, Hamill, and Bader.