Forrest Griffin has a new opponent for UFC 155, and despite rumors that a trilogy fight with Stephan Bonnar was on tap, Griffin’s return to the cage will come against a very talented up-and-coming fighter in Phil Davis.
Griffin was originally set to fight Chael Sonnen on the UFC’s year-end card, but Sonnen was placed into a high-profile spot opposite Jon Jones on The Ultimate Fighter 17, and Griffin was left without an opponent.
In steps “Mr. Wonderful” Phil Davis, who is fresh off a submission win over Wagner Prado at last weekend’s UFC 153 event.
This is an extremely important fight for both men: Griffin needs to prove he is still amongst the elite fighters in the light heavyweight division, and Davis has yet to show the world that he is worth the hype that has been thrown his way.
The winner of this fight will be thrown into a light-heavyweight-title mix full of fighters who have already lost to the champion, so a win here could earn one of these fighters a fast track to a title opportunity.
Griffin has always been one of the more entertaining strikers to watch since he joined the UFC roster, but the days of Griffin throwing wild haymakers with Stephan Bonnar are all but gone.
While Griffin can sometimes lose his cool a bit and get drawn into a slugfest, he’s been able to keep his head in most of his recent bouts and use his technical striking skills to out-land his opponents.
That strategy could serve him well against Davis, who hasn’t exactly shown us much in terms of his striking skills in his UFC career.
I fully expect Davis to do his best to drag this fight to the ground, but if he’s unable to get the job done, it could be a long night for “Mr. Wonderful.”
Advantage: Forrest Griffin
Phil Davis possesses the single biggest advantage in this fight due to his wrestling skills.
Davis is one of the most highly decorated wrestlers in the UFC, and his pedigree hasn’t come into question since he’s been competing inside the Octagon.
Although Davis had some trouble getting Alexander Gustafsson and Rogerio Nogueira to the mat early in their bouts, his persistence proves that he won’t bail on his game plan after a few failed takedown attempts, which will be crucial to Davis winning this fight.
Advantage: Phil Davis
The fact that both men have equally lethal, yet completely different, skill sets on the mat is what makes this fight interesting.
Davis is a wrestler, and it shows in his submission game, which has typically been made up of chokes and joint locks that take a lot of strength to pull off.
On the other side of the coin is Griffin, who relies almost purely on his technique to get the job done on the mat. Forrest is a huge light heavyweight, which helps him keep control on the mat, but he’s nowhere near as devastating as Davis is from the top position.
Both guys have proven that they can pull off some high-level submissions inside the Octagon, but Davis has been doing it more often and more impressively and he gets a slight edge here.
Advantage: Phil Davis
It’s very tempting to pick Griffin in this fight.
Davis is the superior grappler and should be able to take the fight into his world, but Griffin is a very tough fighter to submit, and “Mr. Wonderful” hasn’t recorded a single stoppage by TKO in his UFC career.
The longer Davis lets Griffin hang around, the more chances the former "Ultimate Fighter" has to steal this fight.
Griffin has pulled off some pretty memorable upsets in his career, but his last few performances have looked lackluster at best, and it’s hard to bank on an underdog who is seemingly unmotivated.
If Griffin comes in like the fighter that won the light heavyweight title a few years ago, Davis could be in a lot of trouble, but I don’t see that happening.
"Mr. Wonderful" walks away with a unanimous decision win here, in a closer fight than many think we are going to get.
Prediction: Phil Davis by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)