It took him longer than expected, but Phil Davis finally manages to get his wrestling going in the second half of his main event fight with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira to claim a decision win.
Much of the talk in the lead up to this fight had been Davis’ top-level wrestling, but the story of the first round was Nogueira’s ability to repeatedly stuff his takedown attempts.
That left Davis having to resort to fighting Nogueira on the feet. The Brazilian was patient though and Davis wisely used his reach to stay out of Lil Nog’s boxing range and resorting mainly to kicks. By the end of the round Nogueira was getting dangerously close to countering him though.
In the second Nogueira starts to press forward but is still being relatively conservative with his offensive output. When he is throwing he’s starting to land though, while Davis find a home for a couple of body kicks.
After having another takedown attempt shrugged off, Davis finally gets the Brazilian to the mat by going for a single instead of a double. Nogueira is extremely dangerous off his back though so Davis is cautious as he attempts some ground and pound.
Nogueira manages to kick him off once, and then tries again, attempting to get to his feet but Davis hunts him down almost immediately, takes his back and drags him back down. Nogueira turtles up and Davis begins to work some effective offense, going underneath his arm to hammer in some punches to his exposed face, before ending the round with some knees to the body.
Onto the third and after a little stand-up Davis again goes for a single-leg takedown and again is successful. Mogueira manages to sweep and get back to his feet but now that Davis knows the single is the key, he’s going after it all the time and Nogueira has no answer.
The Brazilian shows his experience by managing to stifle much of Davis offense, but he is unable to produce any of his own as the fight enters it’s closing stages.
So it’s down to the judges, and Davis is awarded the win by unanimous decision (30-27).
Overall it’s far from a thrilling win for Davis, and shows what many of us already knew, that he’s not yet ready to be considered in the same breath as current 205lb champion Jon Jones.
Having said that, he tooks this fight on relatively short notice against his toughest opponent to date, so he did well to claim a decisive decision from the judges.