Is Davis suited for UFC success?

Kevin Iole
Yahoo! Sports

You can follow Kevin Iole on Twitter at @KevinI

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – The thought that crosses your mind upon seeing Phil Davis for the first time is that it has to be a miserable experience for the guy to buy a suit.

No way he walks into Men's Warehouse, buys a suit off the rack and runs home with it.

"It's horrible, man; just horrible," Davis says. "My neck is thick, my arms are long, my waist is skinny. Nothing's right."

Don't feel badly for Davis, however; it won't be long before the four-time All-American wrestler from Penn State will be able to afford the finest suits – and the finest tailors to make them fit perfectly.

He's one of the Ultimate Fighting Championship's top prospects, though he's still so new to the sport that he makes uber-prospect Jon Jones, who is all of 22, look like a grizzled veteran by comparison.

Davis, 25, meets Alexander Gustafsson on Saturday at Ferarri World on the preliminary card of UFC 112, just two months after making his UFC debut at UFC 109 with a one-sided victory over Brian Stann.

The former NCAA wrestling champion doesn't have the varied attack that Jones, who last month destroyed Brandon Vera, Davis' mentor, has, but there's nothing that would indicate he won't be able to develop the all-around offense he needs to make him one of the sport's best.

Becoming one of the sport's best is a goal. He's an extremely competitive person, after all. Becoming famous, though, is another story entirely.

Davis, who grew up in Harrisburg, Pa., and is willing to admit he's a Pittsburgh Pirates fan, would be more than comfortable becoming good at what he does without becoming famous.

"Famous. Ugh," he said. "I don't even like to use that word. Let's just say 'well-known.' I'm not really into even being well-known. What's it do for you? Yeah, maybe a guy back home buys you a free breakfast at Denny's, but other than that? I don't know. It's not me. I could live very happily without that."

Yet Davis is a witty, charismatic guy who will have media gravitate toward him as he becomes more successful in the sport.

He knows he has a lot yet to learn as a fighter, just two years after he began to compete.

"The me of last year, I would knock me out if I fought that guy now," Davis said. "And I know this to be true: The me of next year will, without a doubt, be able to knock the me of today out."

He joked in his official UFC biography that he's a "really, really good white belt" in jiu-jitsu. And he didn't finish Stann despite many chances.

His game plan was to be cautious and not do much outside of what he was comfortable with for fear of making a mistake.

Davis, who earned a degree in kinesiology from Penn State, read Malcolm Gladwell's excellent book, "The Outliers," and is a strong believer in its core message. Gladwell wrote that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in anything.

By his reckoning, Davis about a quarter of a way there.

He's never going to stop, however.

"I look at myself as so far from being where I need to be, I don't even think about that much yet, because it's not realistic," Davis said. "The thing about this sport is that there is so much to learn. Guys who have been doing this all their lives are still learning things.

"I'm just a guy trying to get by and get better. Every aspect of the game, from A to Z, I need to improve upon. Right now, the thing I know for sure about myself is how much I don't know."

Davis is most comfortable using his wrestling to take an opponent down and then pummeling him on the ground. Gustafsson is a striker who once trained to be a boxer.

Getting into a toe-to-toe slugfest with Gustafsson probably isn't Davis' wisest course of action.

"His style and my style are like oil and water," Davis said. "I just have to keep shaking so we're mixed up, and that's where I do good. If we get separated, it's going to be the wrong distance and he's going to end up punching me, and I don't like that. So I'll try to avoid that the best I can."

If he avoids Gustaffson's punches as easily as he avoided Stann's, he's going to have another problem on his hands: His notoriety is going to increase tenfold.

And it doesn't help when the boss is raving about him.

"I was blown away by his performance against Brian Stann," UFC president Dana White said. "Brian's a really tough, hard-nosed kid, and Phil looked awesome against him. He's one of the guys I'm really anxious to see."

All Davis has to do is keep impressing White that way and sooner or later, he'll have the finest tailors hand-making him a suit.

Then, getting fitted for a new suit won't be such a horrid task.

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