Rashad Evans is the number one contender for Jon Jones' Light Heavyweight Title and has been for quite some time. He could have continued to wait for a fight with the champ, realistically some time after April, but opted to stay busy and fight Phil Davis. Davis is an unbeaten youngster, although he has already fought some pretty stiff competition. This main event may be being overshadowed slightly by the co-main event, but it is certainly an intriguing fight featuring one of the UFC's top draws.
- Evans is on a three fight win streak, although those three fights have spanned nearly two years.
- He came back from a long lay-off to demolish Tito Ortiz.
- Phil Davis is on a nine fight win streak, which includes five UFC bouts and his most recent win was a unanimous decision over Little Nog nearly a year ago.
Both these men have strong wrestling backgrounds, which they argued vociferously about at the pre fight press conference, but they have very different styles for MMA. Rashad Evans often looks to use his wrestling to control fights and keep dangerous strikers where he can dominate them. However, more often in recent times he has used wrestling as more of a plan B as he displays an ever evolving, fluid boxing style. He has great movement, the ability to show-boat and draw opponents in and one punch knockout power, which he most famously used to knock Chuck Liddell out.
|GIF from SBNation|
Phil Davis has everything a good up and coming fighter should have. He has a great base in one the necessary areas of MMA, he has great work ethic and has evolved all areas of his game as he faces stiffer competition. He is, first and foremost, a wrestler. And, for that matter, he has a more decorated wrestling past than Rashad Evans. He has the ability to power people to the ground and use that same power to dominate, stifle and sometimes submit opponents. You can see how Davis' power is used to make the most of submission opportunities in the GIF below showing his one armed Kimura victory over Tim Boetsch.
Head to Head
Wrestler vs wrestler fights usually end up with two people standing and boxing, as their abilities to grapple cancel each other out. In this fight though, I have to give Rashad a decided edge in the striking, he just has so much more experience and has proved his ability to box with high level strikers.
In fact, I see Rashad using his wrestling ability to attempt to stay on the feet as much as possible, while Phil Davis attempts to take Evans down and gain top control to attempt some funky submissions. Taking a wily old campaigner like Rashad down will inevitably come at the expense of eating some shots and this could well be Davis downfall.
The fight then, will come down to whether or not Davis can get it to the ground and whether Rashad can land damaging blows while it is on the feet.
Evans by decision, as he keeps the fight standing and takes Davis apart on the feet.
This is a fight of paramount importance to the division. If Rashad wins, he fights Jon Jones for the title. If Davis wins, he is probably one fight away from a title shot. Other than that, I expect some fun scrambles and the potential for some big punches from Evans.