UFC on Fox 2: Evans vs. Davis
By: Mike Alexander
The UFC makes its return to the windy city for a Light Heavyweight clash that could be a #1 contender match. In the first official UFC on Fox event (the JDS/Velasquez fight wasn’t technically apart of their contract) the main event features a pair of wrestling powerhouses as Rashad Evans (16-1-1) faces Phil Davis (9-0).
To say that Rashad Evans has had a rough two years would be an understatement. Evans has technically been the #1 contender since May of 2010. Here is where things get hairy: Shogun Rua was the current champ that Evans was supposed to have fought, but Rua was out with a knee injury. Instead of keep fighting while waiting for Rua to recover, Evans sat out and didn’t risk his #1 contender status. Problem is, he ended up injuring HIS knee before the fight, so that allowed his training partner at the time, Jon Jones, to face Rua for the championship. Not only did Jones beat Rua, but the friendship ended between Jones and Evans on account that Jones said he would fight Evans if he had to. So Rashad ended up leaving Greg Jackson’s camp and moved his fight camp to Florida, to train with the Imperial Athletics camp aka “The Blackzilians.” After dominating a rematch with Tito Ortiz, Rashad looks to beat Phil Davis and secure his shot at the LHW strap.
While Rashad entered the UFC as just your average wrestler, the season two TUF champ has truly developed into the complete package. He has superb boxing, strong kicks, and the wrestling game to work almost any fighter over on the ground, but the strongest weapon he has is definitely his speed. Rashad may be the fastest LHW fighter in the division, and that has helped him make a shot faster than his opponent thought he could and throw punches in rapid succession. If he can stop Davis from taking him down, then Rashad can take advantage of his stand up game that may prove too much for the young up-and-comer.
Phil Davis didn’t have a crazy “Turn of events-like” break from fighting that Rashad had, but Davis has been off for a long time as well. Ever since pulling out a decision victory over Lil Nog in March last year, “Mr. Wonderful” has had back to back knee injuries while preparing to fight Rashad Evans and Lyoto Machida. But now that he is healed up, the former NCAA National Champ looks to leap frog everyone else in the division with a win over Evans and put his name in the mix for a shot at Jon Jones.
Being a national wrestling champ obviously is going to give you an advantage against most any other fighter in your division. But Davis gets you there; he isn’t going to be a slouch. When he was just a blue belt in BJJ, Davis won the No-Gi World Jiu-Jitsu Championships, as well as submitting Tim Boestch with a modified kimura. While not showing any remarkable stand up in his past few fights, his has relied heavily on his wrestling and jiu jitsu. Rumor has it that he has trained really hard for since the Lil’ Nog fight on his stand up game, so look to see him test his stand up on Rashad at the start, but don’t be surprised if he uses his wrestling to bring the fight to where he feels most comfortable: on the ground.
I’m so torn on this fight because my head is telling me to pick Rashad, but my gut is shouting “PICK DAVIS!” I really think that Phil has Jon Jones like talent, but hasn’t progressed as quickly and Jones. What has gotten Davis this far is his wrestling, and I think that will again be the key to his victory. If he can take down Rashad, a hard feat in of itself, then Davis will win it. If Rashad keeps it standing, then Rashad has the fight wrapped up. So barring the height, reach, and wrestling advantage of Davis overwhelming Rashad, I predict that Rashad will win the fight with a 3rd round TKO. Davis may have a brighter career in the end, but Rashad has the tools right now to be the better fighter on Saturday.
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