UFC light heavyweight Phil Davis got dominated by Anthony Johnson at UFC 172 on Saturday night. Davis was the betting favorite going into the fight as Johnson was returning to the UFC for the first time since January 2012. The book on Johnson has been survive the first round and he’ll eventually begin to fade and his opponents can capitalize. However, on Saturday night Johnson was cool and calculating, stuffing every takedown Davis threw at him and brutalizing him with strikes.
Davis was a great college wrestler who has developed a very strong grappling game into his MMA skillset. However, it’s his inability to develop a competent striking arsenal that will keep him from defeating the best of the best fighters in the light heavyweight division. The crazy thing is Davis has or does train with Alexander Gustafsson who is known to be a very competent striker who gave champion Jon Jones all he could handle in their UFC 165 bout last September. I should point out that Davis defeated Gustafsson in 2010, handing the Swedish fighter the first loss of his career. If you were to look at their skill set since that fight, Gustafasson is the fighter that has grown leaps and bounds.
Davis is the same fighter that throws single punches and kicks, and you never see any type of combinations from him. This has lead to his opponents being able to shut down his bread and butter wrestling game. Davis has gone for 18 takedowns in his two bouts, landing only two of those takedowns which is an 11% success rate.
The other issue facing Davis is that he seems to suffer from the same disease that Brock Lesnar suffered from during his short MMA career. It’s obvious no one likes getting punched in the face, but as a fighter it’s something that you have to overcome to really excel in the striking department. Davis has 14 career fights with four of them ending in the first round, so to be fair, he doesn’t have a ton of LIVE fight experience under his belt.
Maybe it’s time for him to switch camps and leave the Alliance MMA gym to branch out close up these holes in his game? Do you think Davis still has some untapped potential, or has he reached his ceiling as a MMA fighter? Check out some of the footage from his fight with Johnson below to get an idea of what I’m referring to about him not putting together any combinations: