John Heinis: Rashad "Suga" Evans has been practically frothing at the mouth for a title fight with former Greg Jackson MMA training partner Jon Jones for about a year now, but he has to get past undefeated prospect Phil Davis first.
Davis, a four-time All American wrestler at Penn State, should have the wrestling advantage here, but it would be a little silly to think that he can hold Evans down for 15 minutes.
Evans possesses a formidable striking advantage, while the jiu-jitsu aspect of the fight may be a wash.
Although Davis is only a blue belt in BJJ, his natural, freakish athleticism and high-level wrestling should be enough to keep him from getting submitted by Evans.
Rashad is a BJJ black belt that hasn't won by submission since April 10, 2004.
The x-factor here could be that Evans has fought better competition, defeating Thiago Silva, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Tito Ortiz amidst his three-fight win streak.
While Davis is 9-0 as a professional fighter, his best wins have come against Brian Stann and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
This should be a fun fight to watch, but I think Evans does what needs to be done and wins a clear cut decision.
Rashad Evans via unanimous decision (30-27)
Jordy McElroy: “Suga” Rashad Evans will be looking to hop the final hurdle that guarantees a shot at light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
Phil Davis, an NCAA Division I wrestling champion, will be the one standing in his way.
This is an interesting style matchup, considering both fighters are world-class wrestlers. When two dominant grapplers go toe-to-toe, the bout usually comes down to which fighter can impose their will on the feet.
Evans is an incredibly proficient boxer with blistering speed and surprising knockout power. Typically, it takes a while for a wrestler to fully grasp the art of striking, but Evans is really starting to come into his own.
Davis, on the other hand, continues to improve with every outing, but his striking isn’t nearly as polished. At UFC Fight Night 24, he got lit up in the standup exchanges against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
Luckily, he was able to secure takedowns out of desperation to eke out a decision.
Davis will have to find a way to outgun Evans on the feet if he hopes to be successful. He can forget about securing telegraphed double leg takedowns in the open. If he hopes to put Evans on his back, he’s going to have to use his striking to setup shots.
This is an incredibly tough fight for Davis, and it might have come a bit too soon in his UFC career.
While Davis has grown into a surefire top-10 light heavyweight, his striking hampers him from being on the same level as some of the elite contenders.
There is always the chance he lands a haymaker and punches the off button on Evans’ switch-like chin, but that ending is far-fetched.
Evans should cruise to a unanimous decision with a well-rounded display of striking and wrestling.
Rashad Evans by unanimous decision
Dwight Wakabayashi: This fight is a large risk for Rashad Evans and a nice opportunity for the undefeated 9-0 Phil Davis to establish himself as the No. 1 contender for a title shot.
Evans already has that spot in hand, and that's why it is largely a no-win for him. But he is a well-rounded professional who seems confident that he is on another level than Davis.
Evans is coming off a solid win over Tito Ortiz and has only one loss on his 18-fight record. A supreme athlete and fighter, Evans has developed a very dangerous striking game, and this is where he has the edge on Davis.
He may well even be the better wrestler, and I think it spells doom for his opponent.
Davis has been cool and confident leading up to this fight. And while it is true he has not lost yet in his career, he has not faced a guy on Evans' level yet either, and I'm not sure "Mr. Wonderful" realizes what he is in for.
Davis will desperately try to keep Evans in a hold and on the bottom all night, but Rashad is a decorated wrestler, and I can't see that happening.
Evans will use his strength and experience to keep this one moving all over the octagon, and he will win the battles in most areas.
Davis has only a wrestler's chance of winning a decision while Evans has knock-out skills and power to boot. This one ends with "Suga" pounding Davis out from the top.
Rashad Evans via 3rd round TKO
Jeffrey McKinney: The night’s main event will feature two former Big Ten wrestlers in Rashad Evans and Phil Davis.
While both men have a wrestling base, they have scored some impressive wins by knockout and submission in their careers.
Davis comes into this fight a perfect 9-0 with wins against Brian Stann, Alexander Gustafsson and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
Evans, on the other hand, is a former UFC champion whose only loss came against Lyoto Machida.
Not only does Evans have the experience factor, we know that he can perform well after a long layoff or injury.
This will be Davis’ first time fighting in 10 months, the longest stretch between fights in his career.
While Davis could come back stronger than ever, I believe Evans wants this fight more.
A win puts him right back in a title fight, something that injuries pushed him out of for much of the past year.
Rashad Evans by decision
Dale De Souza: “Mr. Wonderful” Phil Davis vs. “Suga” Rashad Evans is the main event of the UFC on Fox 2 card, but, as everyone knows, the fight was set to take place as the headliner for UFC 133 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania before an injury forced Davis out of action.
Rashad kept his spot in the main event and made relatively short work of Tito Ortiz, but, alas, we’re back to square one, and Davis is headlining a card opposite Evans.
Now, on the surface, this seems like a complete mismatch. Evans is a proven striker, a great wrestler and a very intelligent fighter who is a lot more well rounded than people want to give him credit for.
Also on the surface, Davis is an undefeated prospect who has shown a knack for grappling, wrestling and the occasional ground-and-pound. But he may have no edge apart from the ground game against Evans, who is a lock to thoroughly decimate Davis.
However, once you delve a bit deeper into this fight, it becomes difficult not to wonder if everyone that sees an easy win for Evans is simply underestimating Davis’ ability to last longer than twenty seconds with Evans.
Davis is an ever-improving fighter who is developing into a total package with each and every fight, and his wrestling against Evans could be better than some think.
I would expect this bout to be a bit on the slower side of things and, at best, MAYBE a Submission of The Night candidate or Knockout of The Night candidate.
Still, Davis is no slouch, and I for one might expect that the height and four-inch reach advantage will present difficulties for Rashad coming in—thus setting up Davis’ chances to take the fight to the ground and introduce Evans to a loss by submission.
As for Jon Jones…sorry, champ, but Dan Henderson will have to keep you occupied in Atlanta.
Phil Davis by round 1 (or round 3) submission (Anaconda Choke)