Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis: Suga's Versatility Will Be Mr. Wonderful's Downfall

Thad NovakCorrespondent IJanuary 28, 2012

LAS VEGAS - MAY 28:  UFC fighter Rashad Evans (R) reacts to the crowd while speaking to UFC announcer Joe Rogan (L) about his fight against UFC fighter Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson at UFC 114: Rampage versus Rashad at the Mandalay Bay Hotel on May 28, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)
Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

The headline match of tonight’s UFC on Fox 2 pits "Suga" Rashad Evans against Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis in a light heavyweight contest. The winner will be in an outstanding position to become the next victim of overpowering light heavyweight champ Jon Jones.

Neither Evans nor Davis has a huge amount of professional experience, with Evans coming in at 16-1-1 and Davis at 9-0-0. Moreover, both come from similar fighting backgrounds, having started as Big Ten wrestlers (Evans at Michigan State, Davis at Penn State).

Davis, who won an NCAA title as a senior, has understandably relied on his superlative grappling ability in his young MMA career. However, he has yet to face an opponent with anything like Evans’ wrestling prowess.

Evans, who briefly held the light heavyweight belt himself in early 2009, has shown a more well-rounded skill set in his MMA career. In particular, he’s been a far more dangerous striker than we’ve yet seen from Davis, giving him a much better chance to put a quick end to the match.

Even against such a talented grappler, it’s hard to imagine Davis taking any approach other than trying to take the match to the mat as quickly as possible. Unfortunately for him, Evans’ background makes him exceptionally skilled at takedown defense, and the longer the fighters are on their feet, the worse Davis’ chances.

Davis is too good an athlete to go down easily, but this is simply the wrong matchup for him at this stage of his career. Look for a unanimous decision in Evans’ favor to get him his chance to face (and be slaughtered by) Jones in a title bout.