Anthony Johnson quickly established himself as a major player in the 205-pound division with a dominant unanimous decision victory over Phil Davis at UFC 172. It was the first Octagon appearance for “Rumble” since 2012, and he didn’t disappoint in registering his seventh consecutive victory against the No. 4 ranked contender.
Johnson was able to hurt and bloody “Mr. Wonderful” with a powerful uppercut in the first round, and was able to dominate the proceedings with his flashy offensive arsenal. The key to success was his ability to negate Davis’ stellar wrestling game. He was 0-for-8 in the takedown department, and simply didn’t possess the striking skills or power to succeed in a stand-up affair against the dangerous Johnson. All three judges scored the fight 30-27 in Johnson’s favour.
“Rumble” raised his record to 17-4 with the impressive effort, and should be immediately catapulted into the title conversation. Davis dropped to 12-2-1, and it was easily the most lopsided defeat of his career. Davis suffered a previous decision loss to former champion Rashad Evans, but didn’t absorb the type of punishment in that fight that he did against Johnson.
Davis had done plenty of trash talking in the week leading up to the event, but seemed more focused on champion Jon Jones than he did on the explosive Johnson. It proved to be an error in judgement, and with the loss, Davis will be removed from any serious title consideration.
Johnson’s first stint in the organization was highlighted by spectacular knockouts and major weight issues. The scales weren’t a problem for the more mature Johnson this time around, and neither was Davis. “Rumble” made quite a splash in Baltimore in his UFC return, and is definitely a fighter to watch in the light heavyweight ranks.