UFC on Fox 2 Preview: Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis
That sad, strange saga of Rashad Evans continues. Saturday night, the UFC continues their campaign of having him face everyone who isn’t Jon Jones, when he faces off against LHW prospect Phil Davis. This fight will determine if Rashad Evans gets the next title shot – just like his fights against Tito Ortiz and “Rampage” Jackson did.
Or rather, didn’t.
Look, I’m not trying to go after anyone here – not the UFC, not Rashad, and not Jones, who many feel is “ducking” Evans. I say the idea of a man who absolutely trucked Lyoto Machida, Quinton Jackson, and Shogun Rua “ducking” anybody is ridiculous on its face, but that’s just me.
Regardless of who’s to blame (if anyone), it’s really stretching credibility now to not have Evans and Jones, the hottest rivalry in the division and also the most logical world title matchup rankings-wise, actually fight. There’s even talk that Jones might be facing Dan Henderson next instead of Rashad. The UFC quashed those rumors, but they also once said Jon Fitch vs. Thiago Alves was a “#1 Contenders Fight”, so take it all with a grain of salt.
Still, this is our main event, and the promotion says Rashad will get his shot if he wins, so let’s drop the cynicism now and hope like hell this actually happens. No, I’m not hoping Phil Davis will lose or anything – I just want to see Jones vs. Evans while people still remember who Greg Jackson is, and what “swagger-jacking” even means.
On paper, this is another fight that seems a tad one-sided. Phil Davis has a hell of an amateur wrestling pedigree and he’s looked very impressive in his UFC run thus far. His “Philmura” submission especially is a favorite highlight of mine. And he’s working with all the right people to develop into something truly special.
But in terms of experience, he’s at a big disadvantage to the former world champ Evans. The biggest name on Davis’ resume is Little Nogueira (actually, it might turn out to be Alexander Gustafsson, but that’s another story), while Rashad Evans has some seriously elite names on his resume. Tito Ortiz, “Rampage” Jackson, Thiago Silva, Forrest Griffin, Chuck Liddell, Sean Salmon – all of them elite level fighters. And I’m kidding, of course, with one of my picks there – Chuck Liddell retired, so he’s technically not elite level anymore.
This fight really comes down to who wins the wrestling battle, since we can assume Rashad is both the harder hitter and more proficient striker, while Davis is (from what we’ve seen, anyways) the more versed submission guy. Neither of those statements rings entirely true, of course, but that’s the way the fight breaks down on paper.
What’s more important is that both men use their wrestling as the lynchpin of their offense, so whoever wins that battle will likely carry the fight. Davis claims his wrestling creds outshine Rashad’s, plus he’s the bigger, younger and (possible) stronger athlete. But Rashad has a track record of outwrestling strong MMA wrestlers like Jackson and Ortiz.
So at the end of the day, as the old cliché goes, the truth will come out in the cage.