Phil Davis is getting the opportunity of a lifetime and his first crack at a truly elite opponent.
He has drawn several comparisons to Jon Jones primarily due to his size, wrestling ability and his rapid ascent into the upper tier of the light heavyweight division.
Where he differs from the reigning champion—which will certainly hinder him against Rashad Evans—is that his talent has not evolved at as rapid of a pace as the champion.
Davis is a skilled wrestler, and he will look to use his larger size and reach advantage to keep Rashad at bay. Look for him to shoot in for some double-leg takedowns and possibly switch to single-legs if his early attempts are thwarted by Evans.
While Rashad has been criticized for having a questionable chin, or as my sensei would say, “he has no beard,” Phil Davis doesn’t possess the striking accuracy or acumen to exploit Rashad’s inability to take a punch.
Davis has also shown that he can be rattled by a clean strike, as he displayed against Nogueira. He also appeared visibly tired after three rounds with a high-level but aging fighter in “Lil Nog.”
While Phil is a very good fighter, I believe he has neither the experience nor the tools to defeat someone as seasoned as Rashad Evans. Look for this fight to start off slow with a feeling out process for the first three minutes or so.
I expect Davis to be more the aggressor, especially in the early rounds of the fight. However, Rashad has been fighting bigger fighters since he came into the UFC, and, having trained with Jon Jones, he has had experience in dealing with a fighter with such lanky proportions.
Although I could see Davis getting clipped by Rashad, I believe he could recover enough to use his wrestling to protect himself on the ground. Whatever happens, Rashad will not be denied his date with “Bones.”
Rashad Evans wins by unanimous decision.
Follow Walt J. as he gives his no-holds-barred opinions on the NFL and other sports topics on his blog, "Live From AREA 49." You can also follow him on Twitter @area49sports.