One of the hottest Light Heavyweight prospects in recent times, Phil Davis, burst onto the mixed martial arts (MMA) scene reeling off nine straight victories. Five of those came inside the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) ranks against top stars such as Alexander Gustafsson, Tim Boetsch, Brian Stann and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
On Jan., 28, 2012, "Mr. Wonderful" faced his toughest competition to date in former 205-pound champion Rashad Evans. The two former NCAA Division-1 wrestlers headlined the promotions second foray into primetime television, UFC on FOX 2 in Chicago, Illinois.
After five rounds of action, Evans proved his experience and skill-set were too much for Davis to handle, as he went on to score a unanimous decision victory and secure his title shot against division champion Jon Jones.
Now that he has had time to reflect on his first professional MMA loss, Davis opens up about what went wrong and the holes he can now see in his arsenal, which he directly attributes to his time inside the Octagon with Evans.
Make the jump to see what he had to say today (Mar., 26, 2012) on the The MMA Hour:
"A lot of things did not go right. What didn't go right was, I was doing ok in the first period and then I got myself into one of those crucifix positions. Was I in danger? Not necessarily, but they look bad to referees. I was in danger of losing the fight if he throws ten elbows at my head. I got myself into one of the situations where you've got to go all out to get out of that, and put out a lot of energy. That kind of put me behind on momentum, and from there, Rashad was just the calmer guy. He eased into the fight better. More and more, I was trying to do more to gain momentum and he was just calm and collected. He was an opportunist. He just took advantage of everything that came his way."
On handling losing for the first time in his young fight career:
"I definitely wasn't happy about it. But right away I was excited to get better. I just can't live with knowing, Hey Rashad is better than me. That does not sit well with me. So I got to get better now so that statement is no longer true. I got back in the gym right away. I'm glad he poked holes in my game because I can now know where and how to fill those holes. Losing is not the worst thing in the world. The worst thing in the world is not getting better."
"Mr. Wonderful" gives his thoughts on the upcoming title fight between Evans and Jones in Atlanta, Georgia at UFC 145, as well as who he thinks will prevail:
"They've trained together and Rashad knows Jon Jones' game like a teammate would. That's something only a teammate would know, so I'm going to go with Rashad. A lot of people don't give him a fair shake in this fight but it's a pretty tough fight for both guys."
With the Light Heavyweight division being the most crowded it has ever been, Davis might have a long road to propel himself back into title contention with plenty of hungry challengers to confront along the way.
With so many potential opponents waiting in the wings, who do you feel is a good foe to test the resolve of the former Nittany Lion?
Have at it, Maniacs.