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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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  • edub

    Just going to play a little devil’s advocate here:

    -The UFC has pulled people from scheduled fights before on many occasions. Pulling Rich, or Bader from their events would’ve made a lot more sense for both Davis and Rashad.

    -Davis is from Pennsylvania, but still has a small following. Rich would’ve been a bigger draw as would have Forrest or Rampage.

    -Rampage has been claimoring for a rematch for a while. Evans has talked big about getting one. Davis was already supposed to fight Hamil. Make the switch and you have a true number 1 contender’s match between Rampage and Evans.

    -Neither are like Jones. All three have great wrestling, but all have different styles of enforcing that. All three have different ways of striking with people. Bones seems to favor chokes and elbows on the ground. Rashad seems to favor punches. Davis is all over the place. The winner of this isn’t really gauged for Bones at all.

    This fight is too early for Davis to take. He has not shown the skill level, the creativity, or the domination that Bones has and I fear the UFC is looking at his potential too much rather than what he is now.

    Davis could very well win this fight, but the smart money is on Rashad stopping him at some point.

  • http://prommanow.com Kelvin Hunt

    haha..I love you edub! Valid point in that they have switched fighters before…Bader is coming off a loss…that’s no go…Rich is coming off a loss…so that’s a no go…the one fighter I would agree on switching opponents and all is Rampage Jackson. Him fighting Hamill is absolutely dumb..that makes perfect sense. I think they give Rampage a shot at Jones for some odd reason once…or if he beats Hamill…then let Rashad fight the winner of that one for the belt…if Rashad beats Davis.

    You think Rashad will finish Davis? I don’t see it…I guess he could knock him out…but percentage wise that’s not very likely.

  • edub

    Yea I really do. Ever since the Nog fight I just can’t get behind the hype. He was so deep on double legs then just seemed to get shrugged off. I think rashad will keep it on the feet, and blast him out at some point. Or force Phil into making a mistake.

  • http://prommanow.com Kelvin Hunt

    While take-down defense is lil Nog’s achilles heel…he is a huge LHW…so that along with the ‘injuries’ Davis had certainly were a factor. Evans is much smaller…not to mention the 4-5 inch reach deficit he’ll have against Davis. Also, it’s been a LONG time since Evans has blasted anyone on the feet…it’s going to take him a while to get his range after the long layoff as well…it could be too late at that point if he gives up the first couple of rounds.

  • edub

    He’s a big LHW, but he’s not that much bigger than Rashad (if even bigger). Yes he’s taller, but Rashad carries a lot of weight in those legs and said he was around 240 when the Shogun camp started. He had a good little lay off before the Rampage fight too, and 45 seconds into that fight he cracked rampage with a right hand on the jaw that had Page doin a little river dance. If he starts off like that against Phil then I don’t think he’ll recover. Phil was on wobbly legs for what seemed like the entire 1st 2 rounds in the nog fight.

    Phil could very well impose his will on Rashad in the match, but from what I’ve seen so far I don’t think it’s very likely.

  • http://www.prommanow.com Richard Anderson Mann

    takedown is one word when used as a noun.

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