The excitement surrounding the UFC’s second card on FOX has gotten stronger and stronger as the card draws closer. The world’s top MMA organization really pulled out all the stops for this event and this time fans will have nothing to complain about. With three bouts scheduled to be televised, the first two middleweight contests should get fans nice and pumped for what the UFC has in store for them in the main event.
The final match-up has all the makings of a classic battle between two collegiate wrestlers. On one hand you have the veteran, the former champion looking to recapture his lost title. Rashad Evans is a man on a mission, not only does he want the light heavyweight championship wrapped around his waist once again, he wants so desperately to be the man to derail the Jon Jones hype train. Before that can happen, Evans will have his hands full with Phil Davis on FOX, a former four-time Division I All-American wrestler who captured the national championship as a junior in 2007. Make no mistake about it – while Evans may be lauded for his wrestling credentials they are nowhere near the level of Davis’ and as such “Mr. Wonderful” may be in a position to do something to Evans that no one has done inside the Octagon, planting him on his back, i.e. a position no wrestler ever wants to be in.
His fight with Evans was scheduled to take place at UFC 133 in August, but a knee injury forced him off the card and now he finds himself in the main event of UFC on FOX 2. The whole situation adds up to bright lights, big city, an an even bigger opportunity for this California transplant who’s originally from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. With the injury behind him, Davis has an opportunity in front of him that fighters with twice his experience rarely get to see.
“I am so excited about this fight,” said Davis in an exclusive conversation with Fighters.com. “My coaches are excited as are my training partners. I can not be any happier with how things are going so far. My teammates at Alliance have been a huge help in helping me prepare for Evans and what he brings to the table. I’ve had some additional help come in for this fight, but I’d rather not say who if you know what I’m saying! My knee is feeling great and I’m ready to go.”
Although Davis has been in some high pressure situations before, whether in college and wrestling for a national championship or in the UFC, fighting Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in a Fight Night headliner, he has yet to come close to feeling the type of pressure this fight brings or the amount of media obligations that come along with it. The added responsibilities can sometimes be too much for one too handle.
“I think there have been slightly more media obligations, but the pressure of winning always remains constant,” Davis explained. “It’s no more or less than the time before that.”
While Davis’s ascension up the ranks of the UFC’s light heavyweight class pales somewhat in comparison to that of the current divisional champ Jones, it has still been extremely impressive. Some fans may find it surprising to know that Davis, although very confident in his own abilities, is also taken aback at how quickly success has come to him.
“It is very surprising to me,” offered Davis. “It makes you stop and think to yourself, ‘Wow is this really my life? Is this really happening to me?’ I realize how lucky I am. I feel really blessed and I am very thankful for everything I have accomplished. Being a wrestler I like to think we are some of the hardest workers in the sport and with hard work comes rewards.”
Davis has shown off some slick submissions in his time inside the Octagon. He defeated top prospect Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 112 with an Anaconda Choke and followed that up with a Kimura over the Tim Boetsch at UFC 123. Although he is just a blue belt in BJJ he seems to have a good grasp on the sport.
“I rolled around a little bit during the summer between my junior and senior year of college,” said Davis. “My coach got scared and put a halt to that pretty quickly. I wasn’t able to get into like I wish I had so most of what I have learned came after I graduated. I won a No-Gi Championship at 221 pounds as a blue belt in 2009.”
Whether the success comes via submission, strikes, or a decision, rest assured Davis will be ready for Evans on Saturday night. Make sure to catch their bout when the card starts up on FOX at 8:00 PM EST. Other featured fights include Demian Maia vs. Chris Weidman and Michael Bisping vs. Chael Sonnen.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC