Photo by Esther Lin via MMA Fighting.
When Ben Rothwell was injured and Travis Browne shipped off to main event UFC on FX 5 in October opposite Antonio Silva, it left an opening on the UFC on Fox 4 main card on network TV this coming Sat., Aug. 4, 2012, in Los Angeles, California.
Upon inspection of the preliminary card, it seemed the obvious choice to move up was the Phil Davis vs. Wagner Prado bout. The match-up isn't sexy, but Davis was last seen in the main event of UFC on Fox 2 in January of this year.
That would seem reason enough.
Instead, Mike Swick's attempt at successfully returning to active competition against DaMarques Johnson was given the nod, a choice widely panned by critics of the decision making process at UFC headquarters. And that's fair.
Davis, too, is rebuilding. Whereas Swick has been gone for a couple years, dealing with various health issues, Davis is coming off the first loss of his previously "Wonderful" career, the aforementioned main event defeat at the hands of Rashad Evans earlier this year.
The loss was devastating, if only because there was so much on the line. In fact, Evans earned a title shot on the strength of it. The same likely wouldn't have rang true for Davis but before he fell, his name was among those on a short list of men with the right skill set to give Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones a legitimate challenge.
For his part, Davis tells MMAFighting.com the loss to Evans was still a milestone.
"I still find that fight to be a little bit of a milestone. I haven't been in the sport for that long and I stayed with a guy whose been doing it two or three times longer than I have, so its just, you know, it is what it is. I don't feel like its necessary a fall off the horse type of situation. It's not something I'd say I could forget about, but I don't dwell on it either. My motivation for winning was never beating Rashad, it's to be a champion. That's the one constant throughout my career, and you know, nothing about my overall plan for success has changed. I still want to be the champion, I'm still 100 percent confident I'll be there, and just approach every day as such."
Now that he's suffered his first career defeat, Davis gets to experience the next step in his growth process -- his response to adversity. After all, perfection is unattainable.
Fortunately, Evans is one of the best 205-pound fighters in the world. Losing to him isn't exactly a death sentence and it doesn't necessarily mean Davis will never reach the upper echelon of his weight class. In fact, he's still ranked number six, according to the SBN rankings, and those ahead of him are all vying for the title.
Obviously, a win over an unheralded opponent like Prado, even if he does it in seconds with some spectacular knockout or submission, won't allow Davis to leapfrog any one of those guys but it will definitely put him right back in the discussion and get him back on the road to achieving his ultimate goal.
Becoming a champion.
Anyone think we'll be hearing more of Davis in the 205-pound title picture sooner rather than later?