Two talented light heavyweight prospects will settle some unfinished business this Saturday night (Oct. 13, 2012) as Phil Davis battles Wagner Prado on the UFC 153 main card in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Phil Davis has long been considered one of the fighters with the brightest futures in the UFC's light heavyweight division. His momentum got halted by Rashad Evans earlier this year and a no contest in his last bout against Prado due to an eye poke has kept him winless in 2012. He'll be looking to rectify that on Saturday night.
Wagner Prado is an extremely talented and dangerous knockout artist on the feet, but his UFC debut couldn't have been any uglier as he was horrifically poked in the eye by Davis. When he couldn't see, the fight was stopped. He'll be out for revenge this weekend.
Record: 9-1 (1 no contest) overall, 5-1 (1 no contest) in the UFC
Key Wins: Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (UFC Fight Night 24), Alexander Gustafsson (UFC 112), Tim Boetsch (UFC 123)
Key Losses: Rashad Evans (UFC on Fox 2)
How he got here: Phil Davis was a very successful wrestler at Penn State, competing in the 197 pounds where he was a four-time All-American and the 2008 NCAA Division I national champion. When his college career was over, Davis immediately transitioned into mixed martial arts, even working alongside fellow newcomer Jon Jones for a short time.
After just four fights, "Mr. Wonderful" was signed by the UFC and thrown in against former WEC light heavyweight champion Brian Stann in his debut with the promotion. The Pennsylvania natives scrapped, but it was all Davis as he outmuscled Stann so badly that ex-marine dropped a weight class afterwards.
Davis followed up his victory over Stann with a string of impressive performances which included two submissions over Alexander Gustafsson and Tim Boetch as well as a decision victory against Rodney Wallace. The Boetsch submission in particular was impressive as he used a hybrid move he got to name after himself.
The Alliance MMA fighter took on his toughest test to date in his last bout against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, in which he had to make quick adjustments on the fly and was forced to utilize some of his stand-up attack after having some trouble putting his opponent on the ground. Davis eventually passed the test, scoring a unanimous decision victory over the Pride veteran.
He stepped up and faced the toughest test of his career nine months later in Rashad Evans, but it was too much, too soon for the talented prospect as Evans outstruck and outwrestled him over the course of five hard fought rounds.
Davis was slated to return against Wagner Prado but an inadvertant eye poke forced an early "no contest" and both men are slated to finish their business on Saturday.
How he gets it done: Davis got cute in the start of the last fight against Prado, standing for the first 90 seconds before landing the eye poke.
He'd better cut to the chase this time.
Davis was a national champion wrestler in college and he's got a massive advantage over Prado on the ground in this fight. If he doesn't utilize it, it would be one of the strangest gameplans in UFC history.
If he can put Prado on the ground, Davis needs to get to work either with ground and pound or with submissions. Expect to see him immediately work to pass guard and advance to a dominant position. If Prado won't give up a submission, he should try to soften him up with heavy punches. If he gets this fight to the ground, the potential for a stoppage is very good.
Record: 8-0 (1 no contest) overall, 0-0 (1 no contest) in the UFC
Key Wins: none
Key Losses: none
How he got here: Wagner Prado got into MMA after transitioning from training his striking and Muay Thai. His stand-up skills were very apparent early on as he won his first five fights all by form of knockouts and he was diverse in his attack, finishing opponents with knees, head kicks, leg kicks as well as regular punches.
After winning the first and only decision of his career, Prado scored two more knockouts in the Max Fight promotion and was quickly scooped up by the UFC.
He was set to make his promotional debut against Phil Davis but an inadvertent eye poke ended his night early less than 90 seconds into the first round. Prado couldn't see and the bout was ruled a "no contest."
Davis and Prado are slated to rematch this Saturday night, but this time on Prado's home turf of Brazil.
How he gets it done: Prado's biggest strength, hands down, is his striking. He's going to want to keep the fight on its feet and try to hurt Davis standing.
While Prado does not possess the best striking defense, his best chance is if Davis gets cute again like he did in the beginning of the last fight, trying to stand and trade with Prado.
If Davis gives him that same opening and opportunity, Prado absolutely MUST take advantage of it and land some significant strikes quickly and with power. He has to utilize every second that Davis gives him on the feet if he wants to score that nasty knockout or perhaps win a decision by outstriking his opponent.
Fight X-Factor: The biggest factor for this fight is whether or not Phil Davis is going to play to his strengths or not. While the fight only went 90 seconds last time, Davis showed no inklings of taking it to the ground which is his bread and butter. If he refuses to utilize his wrestling for the entire fight this time around, eventually Prado is going to quit being concerned about the takedown and really go to work with his striking.
If Davis fights smart this time and actually takes Prado down, he should have no problems whatsoever.
Bottom Line: This fight should be entertaining, but it doesn't look like either man is actually going to want to engage each other in their strengths. If Davis takes the fight to the canvas, he should be dominant there. If Prado keeps it on the feet, he should also be dominant. If you enjoy watching a fighter go to work at what they do best, this is the fight for you.
Who will come out on top at UFC 153? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!