Phil Davis is an amazing wrestler; but he's mainly just a wrestler.
His NCAA accolades and his time at Penn State have served him well so far in the Octagon. However, against the top-tier fighters, he needs something more.
What does he need?
There are three main areas where he needs to improve his game if he's to ever become a true top light heavyweight.
The oft-proclaimed axiom in MMA is that wrestling and wrestling for MMA are two totally different things; success at the collegiate and Olympic level offers a high probability of success in MMA, but it's no guarantee.
At UFC on FOX 2, the world found out the Phil Davis' better wrestling pedigree was all for naught when he met a less acclaimed wrestler in Rashad Evans.
For Davis to make it back to the top of the mountain, his MMA-wrestling needs to improve. If not, he'll be a top guy but never a serious contender.
Phil Davis had a reach advantage against Rashad Evans but from the way the fight played out, you wouldn't have known it.
Davis needs to learn how to effectively use his striking to keep fighters like Rashad Evans at bay with reach.
If Davis does this, he'll be a better fighter by miles and a much more complete martial artist.
Alliance MMA isn't a bad gym, but it doesn't seem to have much more to offer Davis, whose skills have apparently plateaued.
The two best fighters Davis has to train with are Dominick Cruz (a champion but significantly smaller than Davis) and Brandon Vera (a journeyman who would've been axed from the UFC had Thiago Silva not failed his drug test).
You are only as good as your training partners and it's clear that Davis may not have training partners that can really test him.