Perspective: Why booking Phil Davis vs. Rashad Evans at UFC 133 is a rational move

I don’t know, maybe I’m weird but as soon as it was announced that Phil Davis would replace an injured Jon Jones to face Rashad Evans at UFC 133 I thought it was a rational move.

However, on the social networks and various outlets there seems to be a consensus that the UFC is throwing away a prospect in this match-up with Phil Davis.

I couldn’t disagree more.

Some fans and pundits think that Jones should have been replaced with someone else or that Rashad Evans should have been pulled from the entire card to wait and face Jon Jones. Let’s take a look at some things:

  • All the fighters ranked ahead of Davis have fights booked. Shogun Rua, Rampage Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Forrest Griffin, and Ryan Bader.
  • Evans has been out of action since May 2010, so you’re asking him to wait another couple of months to face Jones?
  • The event is taking place in Pennsylvania. Davis is from there and went to college there at Penn State.
  • This fight is also a good measuring stick to see how both fighters would fare against the current champion Jon Jones.

Now you are not going to replace a fight the caliber of Jones vs. Evans. That’s an entity of it’s own right there, but you can try to give the fans the best match-up available in this instance. That match-up is Davis vs. Evans. Now, it’s possible that Lyoto Machida could run through Randy Couture this weekend at UFC 129 and be able to fight Evans at UFC 133 in a re-match, but he would have to come away from that fight injury free. Rampage Jackson could whip Matt Hamill at UFC 130 and be able to fight Evans in a re-match at UFC 133. but again he’d have to come away from that fight injury free.

In the event of having Evans set out more time just to face Jones doesn’t make sense. I’ve had a hand injury similar to what Jones has, and let’s just say I wouldn’t risk sitting Evans out just for that one fight. These type of injuries vary in regards to recovery time. Evans will have already missed almost a year and a half by the time UFC 133 rolls around and he isn’t getting any younger.

As I mentioned earlier, you can’t replace a fight like Jones vs. Evans. However, Davis can lend something to the card that no one else can in that he’s from the state of Pennsylvania and that’s where the event will take place. So you have the home-town kid going to test him skills up against a former champion type of story-line. That’s a win-win deal for Phil Davis unless he gets absolutely dominated which brings me to my next point.

If you believe that Rashad Evans will absolutely steamroll Phil Davis, then I’d like for you to bookmark this post in your favorites right now. It’s a good match-up stylistically for Davis, much better than the Nogueira fight. Davis is much larger than Evans and will have a huge reach advantage over him as well. Now, Evans will probably have a speed advantage but that’s about where it ends. I’m aware that Evans does a good job of setting up his take-downs with strikes, but Evans couldn’t hold Thiago Silva or Rampage Jackson down after getting the take-down. We also have to remember the long lay-off for Rashad Evans who is traditionally a slow starter during his fights.

The winner of this fight will likely face Jon Jones down the road, if not in their very next fight. Right now, the consensus is that Rashad Evans would get destroyed by Jon Jones. If Evans is able to beat Davis who has similar physical attributes when compared to Jones, well that makes his chances against Jones more believable. If Davis is able to best a former champion in his tenth fight, then you have to give the kid his props and anoint him as the one of the best light heavyweights in contention to face Jones. 

I’m not saying that Davis is going to beat Rashad Evans, but I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if it happened. I certainly do not expect Rashad Evans to simply crush Phil Davis. Davis was going to have to fight the likes of Bader, Griffin, Jackson, or Machida in his next fight anyway so this is a rational move by the UFC under the circumstances. If Davis were to lose, it’s only his tenth fight and he lost to a former champion.

No harm done for a guy that’s about to enter into his physical prime later this year at the ripe old age of 27.

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