Phil Davis: The UFC's Forgotten Light Heavyweight Contender

By Rick LaFitte
Phil Davis
Brad Penner USA TODAY Sports

It’s clear for one reason or another that the UFC doesn’t exactly view Phil Davis as one of their more marketable light-heavyweight contenders. “Mr. Wonderful” has been on the sidelines after a very controversial decision victory in August at UFC 163 in Brazil over Lyoto Machida. The negative reaction to the win did nothing for his career, while “The Dragon” decided it was time to move down to the middleweight division, where he enjoyed immediate success.

Davis is itching to make an Octagon return, but it appears as though he is the odd man out when it comes to high-profile bouts in the 205-pound weight class.

Davis’s absence from such discussions seems a little odd considering he’s ranked no. 4 by the organization. When his name does come up, potential opponents don’t seem to have a very favourable response to fighting him. While Davis’ wrestling and submission dominant style doesn’t produce the most thrilling of fights, he has had a successful career. He’s 12-1-1 in his MMA career and an impressive 8-1-1 inside the Octagon.

His lone loss in the UFC came in a title eliminator as Davis dropped a decision to former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans. Davis has a first-round submission victory over Alexander Gustafsson to his credit, and also holds a decision win over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.

He is finding out that there’s more to the sport than winning. There’s an entertainment component as well and unfortunately, he has registered on the low end of the scale in that department.

While Davis has remained on the sidelines, he’s watched the stock of his friend and training partner Gustafsson soar after “The Mauler’s” tremendous performance against light heavyweight champion Jon Jones at UFC 165. Davis and Gustafsson have indicated a willingness to meet if the title were on the line, but for now the big Swede hopes to nail down another potential title shot with a win in March against Jimi Manuwa.

Jones’s next title defense will come at UFC 172 against Glover Teixeira, while a pivotal 205-matchup between Evans and Daniel Cormier is set as the co-main event of UFC 170. Again, these are all key fights within the light heavyweight division with no mention of Davis.

Whatever the UFC decides to do for Davis next, it’s clear that he will not only need a victory, but will have to deliver an impressive and entertaining performance. That’s what it will take to improve his chances of a future title opportunity and make people finally forget about his very questionable win over Machida.

Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports

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