Why Phil Davis isn't concerned about facing Glover Teixeira in Brazil

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  • Glover Teixeira
    Glover Teixeira
    Brazilian mixed martial artist
  • Phil Davis
    American mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter
  • Jon Jones
    Jon Jones
    American mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter



Longtime, hardcore mixed martial arts fans will recall the fighter nicknamed "The Brazilian Killa," Alex Stiebling. The Indiana native earned his moniker by taking down one Brazilian fighter after another in the legendary PRIDE promotion before running into a gentleman named Anderson Silva in 2002.

UFC light heavyweight contender Phil Davis has been doing his part to audition for the moniker. The former NCAA wrestling champion out of Penn State is 4-0 in the UFC against Brazilian foes, including a victory over former champion Lyoto Machida in Rio de Janeiro.

And while Davis won't go so far as to proclaim himself as the new "Brazilian Killa," he won't protest too hard if others want to give him that tag.

"I'm not about to go calling myself that, but if someone else wants to go ahead and say it, then go for it," Davis said in a recent interview with Yahoo Sports. "It's OK by me."

Davis (12-2, 1 no-contest) will put his buregoning "Brazilian Killa" reputation on the line Saturday night in Rio in the co-main event of UFC 179, when he meets Glover Teixeira in a bout with pivotal light heavyweight division implications.

Phil Davis looks on after defeating Lyoto Machida at UFC 163. (USAT)
Phil Davis looks on after defeating Lyoto Machida at UFC 163. (USAT)

"It's not like I haven't done this before," Davis said. "Brazil has been good to me."

While many foreign fighters have wilted under the pressure in the hostile atmosphere — everyone from Dan Henderson to Chad Mendes to Brendan Schaub to Michael Bisping have found themselves on the wrong end of vicious finishes against Brazilian stars in their native country — Davis sees it as a different sort of thing.

"Look, you have to remember, I came from a college wrestling background," Davis said. "We've got some intense rivalries. You're not going to make it to the top in that sport unless you are able to go into hostile territory and win.

"That mentality transfers over to MMA. Instead of getting intimidated by the crowd over there, I use it as fuel. I respect their passion for the sport; they're great MMA fans. I just take their energy and make it mine."

That's a smart approach to what's shaping up as an important juncture in the UFC stints of both Davis and Teixeira. In the case of Teixeira (25-3), the Sobralia, Brazil, native had a 20-fight win streak snapped in a unanimous-decision loss to champion Jon Jones in April, and is looking to get back into the win column.

Davis, meanwhile, is still in a spot in which he could go either way in the division. Davis had just four pro fights under his belt when he joined the company in 2010 and scored wins over Brian Stann and Alexander Gustafsson in his first two UFC bouts. He's been on the doorstep for real title contention on multiple occasions but has come up short against the likes of Rashad Evans and Anthony Johnson when he's reached that point.

Davis seems to grasp the stakes involved in the matchup, so the often-opinionated fighter is making sure to come at Teixeira with respect.

Phil Davis lost to Anthony Johnson in his last fight. (USAT)
Phil Davis lost to Anthony Johnson in his last fight. (USAT)

"Look at what he's accomplished," Davis said. "He won 20 straight fights and it took Jon Jones to finally end the streak. I'm fighting in his hometown. He's looking to get right back into the title mix. If I defeat Glover under those circumstances, what does that say about me? It says I'm right up there."

To that end, the San Diego-based Davis spent some time preparing for the bout with an old wrestling colleague, Daniel Cormier, in what amounted to mutually beneficial training sessions at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose. Cormier, of course, is working toward a January showdown with Jones. While Cormier possesses a different fighting style than Teixeira, he is a solid stand-in from a size and reach perspective.

"Daniel and I have been cool for a long time," Davis said. "Anything I can do to help someone teach Jones a little humility, you don't have to ask twice. It worked out for both of us. I know Glover has a reputation as a hard hitter, but honest, I think Daniel hit harder. Think about all that time he spent at heavyweight, and the strength he needed to take those guys down and hold them there. Reach-wise, Daniel has Glover down to, like, the centimeter. I'll be well-prepared there."

As one might expect, Davis predicts a Cormier victory over Jones in Las Vegas on Jan. 3. But, since Davis envisions himself defeating Teixeira and moving into title contention, might things get a little awkward?

"Look, I just want the belt," Davis said. "If I got to fight Jones that would be great. I'd love to get a crack at him. If it's DC, I mean, this is a sport. We're professionals, we have goals. We'll cross that bridge when we get there, and in the meantime I'm rooting for Daniel."

Any such talk, obviously, is dependent on Davis beating Teixeira, and to the whims of the media-voted UFC ranking system. On the latter point, Davis has basically thrown up his hands.

"I don't even look at the rankings anymore," Davis said. "They don't make any sense. All I'm going to do know is focus on defeating Teixeira, and then we'll see how things go from there."

Follow Dave Doyle on Twitter: @DaveDoyleMMA