People were calling him the next big thing. People were saying that he would be the one to take down Jon Jones. People were saying now was his time, and his chance, to step up.
But for five rounds, for 25 whole minutes, Phil Davis had no answer for Rashad Evans, and he lost a 50-45 unanimous decision in the biggest fight of his career.
Phil Davis was not ready for a big fight, and nobody seemed to realize it.
Davis was 9-0, which is an impressive record, but you have to look at the competition that he was facing.
He beat two fighters who are now middleweights, Tim Boetsch and Brian Stann. He beat one fighter who was cut after the loss. He beat Rogerio Nogueira in an underwhelming performance against a sub-par opponent. His only win that could be considered "quality" was the win over Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 112.
Even with all that, the UFC seemed intent on having Davis fight the No. 2 light heavyweight in the world, even though it was clear that it was too far a jump.
First, Davis was supposed to fight Rashad Evans at UFC 133, but he was forced out of that matchup with a knee injury.
Then, he was linked to a fight with Lyoto Machida at UFC 140, but the lingering knee injury kept him from taking that fight.
Then finally, he was matched up with Rashad Evans once again for UFC on Fox 2.
Machida and Evans were both clear top five opponents, and were undoubtedly too much to handle for Davis.
He needed a fight with a veteran who is still a solid test for young fighters. He needed someone like Vladimir Matyushenko, Forrest Griffin or Stephan Bonnar.
Not only was his opponent too much, but he was headlining the UFC's second card on Fox. It was perhaps the biggest stage that any fighter could be featured on, being the main event on national television in prime time.
It was a big opponent, a big stage—all together, that made it a big fight.
Phil Davis wasn't ready for a big fight.