It's hard to fathom now, but it happened not too long ago, and the comparisons were serious. Both guys had athletic, rangy builds. Both were great wrestlers. Both were young prospects who were riding a giant wave of momentum.
But, within the past year, their careers have started to branch in different directions. Jones is now a champion, and not just that, but decidedly so. He's beaten a "Who's Who" of mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters and made it look easy in the process.
Davis hasn't exactly fallen off the map. He still has only one loss on his professional record. However, in the 12 months that "Bones" was essentially ascending to his throne, "Mr. Wonderful" won a decision victory that didn't exactly set the word on fire, and he was dominated for five rounds in a decision loss to Rashad Evans at UFC on Fox 2 in Chicago, Illinois, on Jan. 28, 2012.
Davis was a guest on HDNet's "Inside MMA," where he evaluated Jones' status as a UFC champion:
"You know, I tend to shy away from answers like this, just because everyone is so skillful in their own regard. I definitely think he's a very talented champion, but just to be the best in the world says a lot about it. I don't think he's necessarily any better than any of the other champions. But that's just from a competitor's standpoint. I'm sure the fans would say something different."
One could call that stance a case of "sour grapes." Jones has what Davis wanted and still wants. He has the fame, the attention and the belt.
According to Davis, he's not trying to take anything away from Jones. He thinks he's a great fighter, he's just not sure he's held the belt long enough to be compared to the likes of Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre.
He may have a point:
"I think up until Jones became the champion, a lot of people thought, 'Oh, this is just another young guy.' And, they went out to, basically, to really beat him. Whereas, if you take away the people fighting Georges St. Pierre, it's very tactical, it's not necessarily -- everyone is in it to beat him, don't get me wrong, but a lot of times, it's a slower pace. It's very methodical. It's not going for the kill. Which, I feel Jones has had as his advantage that people are coming right at him. It's easy to meet a fight head on. But a lot of times, guys are just looking to choose shots and, you know, pot shots whenever they can. It's a lot tougher, and I think he'll get that now that people realize that he's a force to be reckoned with in the division."
Davis has been out of action since his loss to Evans, which has given him time to contemplate his shortcomings and how he needs to upgrade. As far as he's concerned, the loss was a blessing in disguise:
"That loss was good for me. Sometimes, you don't know where you're at, until you have a loss. Now I know where I'm at, and it gave me a lot to improve on. It's a great starting point to go next with where I wanna improve, to get to the belt."
For now, no opponent or event has been named for Davis, but he believes fans will get to see him again as early as this summer:
"In a hypothetical world, I would fight someone, definitely before the end of the summer. Probably sometime this summer. But, until you get bout contracts, there's plenty of room for change. Nothing's ever for sure."
Any of you Maniacs feel like playing matchmaker? Who would you like to see "Mr Wonderful" square off against in his Octagon return?