COMMENTARY | On Saturday, August 3, 2013, at UFC 163, former NCAA Division I All-American wrestling champion Phil Davis (12-1) defeated former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida (19-4).
The bout was shrouded with controversy after Machida delivered a lackluster performance, yet thought he had done enough to win. In fact, many, including UFC president Dana White, expressed their discontent with the decision. Both combatants fought cautiously and neither inflicted any serious damage on the other. However, two key takedowns at the end of rounds one and two appeared to have secured the win for Davis.
In the end, the decision favored Davis. Heading into UFC 163, the Pennsylvania native was just another top 10 light heavyweight contender. On August 3, Davis defeated the division's No. 1 contender in Machida. In a perfect world, defeating a No.1 contender would more than translate into a title shot. So, ideally, with the UFC 163 win, Davis would face the winner of the Jon Jones/Alexander Gustafsson championship matchup, which occurs on September 21, 2013.
However, aside from winning, pleasing the UFC president plays a major part in securing championship title fights. In fact, not only did White not agree with the Machida/Davis decision, but he also blamed "The Dragon" for the loss.
In an interview with Yahoo! Sports, White stated:
"Machida definitely won that fight, definitely. But that's his fault. He knows MMA judging sucks. It's terrible, it's [expletive], but he went out there and let him do it. I can't remember whether it was the first or the second, but Machida had that combination where he threw all those punches and ran across the cage and ended with that knee. That's when he's really good. But he wants to stay back and be a counter puncher and wait and fight cautiously."
Even with the lack of support from White, Davis is still left with a couple of incredible matchups within the 205-pound division that could lead him to the UFC title.
Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis II
At UFC on Fox 2, Davis faced his only loss via decision in his bout against Evans (18-3). The fight itself was not thrilling. However, the defeat placed Davis farther down the light heavyweight division's totem pole. Evans, a former light heavyweight champion, is currently the division's No.4 contender. Both fighters are coming off a win, and a rematch to determine the division's No.1 contender would be ideal.
Antônio Rogério Nogueira vs Phil Davis
Although this matchup would receive less fanfare than an Evans/Davis II bout, a fight against Nogueira would still be of major significance. Nogueira is coming off a two-fight win streak. In fact, he even defeated the higher-ranked Evans in his last fight at UFC 156. At 21-5, Nogueira, with his high-level Brazilian jiu-jitsu, would enjoy snapping Davis' three-fight win streak and derailing the wrestling champion's title hopes.
Phil Davis' Future
Regardless of whom he fights, Davis undoubtedly has set his sights on the UFC light heavyweight title. Leading up to UFC 163, he stated:
"I don't know where I fit in the title contention picture. I just go fight by fight. I really wanted to get a finish in my last fight. If I get a finish here, it'll get me a lot further along than a loss or a win will. After this fight, people will be begging for me to get a title shot. That's it."
Davis did not finish the No.1 contender in Machida at UFC 163. However, with the win, the former NCAA Division I wrestler has moved one step closer toward realizing his dream of securing an opportunity to fight for the UFC light heavyweight title.
Clinton Alexander Bullock has been a Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner for many years. He has studied mixed martial arts for 12 years and has been published in Yahoo! News, Bleacher Report, Philadelphia Sunday Sun Newspaper, and Next Step Magazine. Follow him on MMAUnchained.net, Facebook & Twitter @clintonbullock.
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