UFC light heavyweight contender Phil Davis was itching for a fight, and now he finally has one. The no. 4-ranked Davis will welcome Anthony Johnson back to the promotion on April 26 at UFC 172 in Baltimore.
Davis hasn’t competed since a highly-controversial decision win against Lyoto Machida at UFC 163. “Rumble” gets his second chance with the UFC after reeling off six consecutive wins, including a most recent first-round knockout of Mike Kyle at WSOF 8.
This will be an intriguing stylistic matchup. Davis has gotten better in the striking department, but it is clearly not his strong suit. He depends on his tremendous wrestling background and submission skills to register wins. He’s compiled a solid 12-1-1 career record and owns victories against top contender Alexander Gustafsson and veteran Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. His lone blemish was a decision loss in a title eliminator against former champion Rashad Evans.
Davis believes he has the skills to be a future champion and gets a dangerous test in Johnson. While Johnson has a solid wrestling background in his own right, his game is purely about the power. He has registered 11 knockouts in his 16 career wins. While he produced a pair of Knockout of the Night performances and a Fight of the Night effort during his initial UFC tenure, it was an inability to make weight that Johnson became noted for.
He was shown the door by the organization after coming in badly overweight for a bout against Vitor Belfort at UFC 142 in 2012. He was submitted by the “Phenom” in the very first round and was swiftly released. It marked the third time that Johnson had failed to make weight. Johnson’s career has seen him fight anywhere from welterweight to heavyweight, but he’s now ready to try and make a favourable impression as a light heavyweight.
There’s plenty to like about this matchup. Davis has never been known for exciting fights, and it has clearly left him lost in the shuffle in the quest for a title shot. He will need to look impressive against a highly-motivated Johnson. If “Mr. Wonderful” is able to secure a fourth straight win, it will be hard to deny him the high-profile matchups that he’s been in search of.
For Johnson, it’s a chance to make an immediate impact in the light heavyweight division. If he’s able to produce an explosive finish against a top contender in Davis, he immediately becomes a fighter to watch in the 205-pound ranks.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports