Lost in all the "controversy" surrounding the televised portion of UFC 75: "Champion vs. Champion" were two outstanding fights.
One, of course, unified the 205-pound PRIDE and UFC titles. The other showcased the mettle of perhaps the most improved mixed martial artist to ever come off of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) series, Marcus Davis.
"The Irish Hand Grenade" is on a 10-fight win streak since losing to Melvin Guillard at the TUF 2 Finale because of cuts. Five of those 10 wins have come inside the Octagon against solid competition.
Not the best, but solid nonetheless.
He seems to get better with every fight, including his most recent stoppage of Paul Taylor at the O2 Arena in London, England. The former boxer took a kick to the neck, ate at least 10 hammer fists — as well as some vicious blows while trapped against the cage — to somehow survive and pull out an improbable submission win via armbar.
Round one of Marcus Davis vs. Paul Taylor is what this sport is all about — thrilling, edge-of-your seat action. It also had some great officiating courtesy of the underrated, Yves Lavigne.
Davis comments on the 170-pound scrap:
"I don't think it was how hard the kick was. It was just where it was placed. If the kick actually hit me in the head, I don't think it would have hurt me since I'm used to taking a baseball bat to the head.... As soon as I hit the ground my head was clear, even when he was hitting me with shots, and that's why I think Yves Lavigne never stopped him.... When I first hit the ground ... I was actually in shock.... I wasn't able to move my head, but he wasn't getting any power into those hammer strikes. I think that's why he didn't stop it immediately."
Taylor was not throwing marshmallows, either. He reigned down some serious leather on Davis who managed to weather the brutal storm.
Here's another snip:
"... I only fight because I love it. If I only fought because I thought I was going to be UFC champion, if I wanted anything I would have quit a long time ago.... I'm striving to have one fight that solidifies my name in MMA history like people talk about [Marvin] Hagler and [Thomas] Hearns.... I don't need people to say he was the best fighter in the world. I want people to say did you ever see that fight that Marcus Davis was in with so and so? It was probably the best fight that I ever saw. That's what I want. That's where I want my legacy to be as a fighter."
In a loaded welterweight division there shouldn't be any problem finding an opponent to fit the bill. Davis is a finisher and has earned a shot against a bigger name during another televised bout.
Hopefully, his next fight won't get lost in the shuffle.