From the moment Phil Davis stepped into the Octagon, he was never given a fair chance.
In the second round of his first UFC fight against Brian Stann, Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan compared his skills and physique to Georges St. Pierre. In the third round, with three minutes remaining in the bout, Rogan was already bringing up the possibility of Jon Jones vs. Davis.
That’s right, before Davis had already collected his first victory in the UFC, he was already being linked to the current UFC light heavyweight champion. From that point on, various MMA personalities and media members have always linked him to “Bones” Jones due to their freak athleticism.
It wasn’t good enough for Davis to hit a power double in order to get guys to the ground; he had to suplex them. It wasn’t good enough for Davis to lock on submissions; he had to throw spinning back elbows. It wasn’t good enough for Davis to just win fights; he had to dominate opponents.
Davis and Jones are like #1 overall picks in different draft years. Jones is like LeBron James, the most gifted athlete in the sport today, with the ability to take over the game/fight like no else. Davis is like John Wall, a great athlete in his own right, but hasn’t quite taken the sport by storm the way Jones/James did. On their own, Wall and Davis are outstanding and any team/camp would be lucky to have them. When constantly put in the same sentence as LeBron and Jones though, well, that’s just not fair.
Now Kobe Bryant, better known in MMA circles as Rashad Evans, is coming to town.
Before we look ahead though, lets go back to when Evans and Davis were originally scheduled to meet, which was last August at UFC 133. Davis was so overlooked in that fight, that when he had to pull out with an injury and was replaced by Tito Ortiz, people were actually more excited and thought it would be more competitive. Maybe Ortiz fans were just so caught up in the nostalgia of Tito actually winning his bout against Ryan Bader that they thought he had another miracle in him, but no logical MMA fan could have truly believed that Ortiz stood a better chance than Davis.
As expected, Kobe dominated Mike Bibby.
Fast forward to now. In the build up to Davis vs. Evans, it’s been all about the former UFC light heavyweight champ.
Just look at the UFC on FOX promo. Evans is knocking out Chuck Liddell and Sean Salmon while also landing strikes on Forrest Griffin. Davis is throwing a head kick, which ended up being blocked, and they decided to show that from two different angles. That’s all the highlights they had of Davis? Not his submissions on Alexander Gustafsson or Tim Boetsch? How about his dominance against Stann or his ground and pound on Antonio Rogerio Nogueira? Nope. They just showed him throwing a kick that was blocked.
They had Kobe making game-winning shots and throwing down dunks while Wall was highlighted by taking a charge.
Furthermore, Davis isn’t guaranteed a title shot if he beats Evans on Saturday night, while Evans will get a title shot if he comes out on top. The consensus is that, unless Davis looks spectacular in victory, Dan Henderson will get the next crack at Jones and the 205 strap if Davis’s hand is raised at the end of the night. I guess remaining undefeated while beating a former champion who only has one loss on his record in front of what could be the largest UFC audience ever, isn’t good enough to get a fight that was brought up by one of the announcers 12 minutes into your UFC career.
Unfortunately, despite being brought up in his first fight, Jones vs. Davis isn’t the fight people want to see. LeBron vs. Wall might be the match-up fans are clamoring for in a couple of years, but right now, the people want LeBron vs. Kobe. The people want Jones vs. Evans.
“Mr. Wonderful” never had a chance to succeed in the UFC. If he hasn’t been compared to a fighter than might go down as the greatest light heavyweight ever, he’s been overlooked heading into the biggest fight of his career. He’s never been allowed to stand on his own due to the brilliance of Jones or the anticipation of a bigger fight. Davis can have his one shining moment on FOX. He could beat Evans in impressive fashion, have Goldberg and Rogan going crazy, have Dana White Tweeting nothing but exclamation points, and have fans begging for him to fight Jones.
If that’s going to happen though, Davis will have to put on the most flawless performance of his career in a building built by the flawlessness of Michael Jordan.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC