UFC 159: Phil Davis vs. Vinny Magalhaes Head-to-Toe Breakdown
It seems that the burgeoning feud developing between UFC light heavyweight competitors Phil Davis and Vinny Magalhaes will see some closure this spring.
The conflict between the two began after Davis' UFC 153 victory over Wagner Prado, when Magalhaes issued a challenge that blossomed into a full-on Twitter war.
According to the Jan. 29, 2013 episode of UFC Tonight, and the show's official Twitter account, the battle will turn physical at UFC 159 (April 27), where the two antagonists will take it into the Octagon.
Here, we'll take a look at how Davis vs. Magalhaes is likely to go down. We'll compare the combatants' standup, wrestling and grappling skills and project the winner of the match.
Let's take a look at how this one will play out.
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Since the time he entered the UFC back in 2010 the knock on Davis has been his striking. His limited prowess on his feet is often pointed to for explaining why such an athletic and dynamic fighter is on a long route towards contendership.
Magalhaes would be a good showcase opponent for Davis to show off any improvements he's made to his standup game. That is, of course, if he has made any.
As for Davis, the striking of Magalhaes is not exactly a strong suit. The Brazilian is known as a grappler by trade, and his standup does nothing to question that label.
Still, he has improved on the feet since he was a competitor on The Ultimate Fighter, but he is still wild in his attacks and there are certainly openings for opponents to do damage.
Advantage: Davis (Slight)
Neither fighter is a clear favorite in the striking department, but I side with Davis for two reasons.
Two, Davis holds a trump card on the feet in the form of superior wrestling. So even if Magalhaes were getting the better of the exchanges, Davis could easily nullify the attack. That would mean dealing with Magalhaes' ground game—something we'll get to later—but it's still an advantage.
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Davis, a 2007 NCAA National Champion, is one of the light heavyweight division's most dangerous wrestlers. In fact, few opponents who enter the cage with him have much of a chance of remaining upright in the event he goes hard for the takedown.
Defensively, Davis has stuffed 73 percent of incoming takedowns. That might not seem an overly impressive stat, but remember that it's a bit skewed by Davis' fight with Rashad Evans, who succeeded on three of four attempts.
Aside from the Evans match, Davis has been rock solid.
Magalhaes has found moderate success with his takedowns in the UFC, but he's yet to have attempted one against a strong wrestler like Davis. The smart money says this ambition would fail.
Defending the takedown is not something the Brazilian thrives at, but that's largely in part because he's very willing to fight from his back.
This area of the fight is a blowout. The only question is whether or not Davis will even want to take the fight to the mat.
Still, having the power to choose between striking and grappling is a big edge in any contest, and it's one that could very well play a big role at UFC 159.
Grappling and Submissions
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Unlike a lot of wrestlers-turned-mixed-martial-artists, once Davis puts an opponent on the mat he goes hard for a submission. Half of his six UFC victories have come from making opponent's cry uncle, and each of those victories came against a fighter that had never before been submitted.
So, like wrestling, grappling and submissions are a strength of Davis game. He's especially dangerous from the top position and has shown a penchant for latching on to a vicious anaconda choke.
In addition to his submission prowess, Davis' strong base allows him to avoid most sticky situations on the mat, because he is quite good at simply getting back to his feet.
He isn't a deadly striker nor a powerful wrestler, but when you're talking submission, you're talking Magalhaes' turf.
The Brazilian is a ADCC Champion and No Gi World Champion and has finished eight of 10 career MMA victories via submission.
Whether off his back or on top, he's a legitimate threat to stop anyone, even a grappler of Davis' high caliber.
Davis would hold an advantage over most light heavyweights in the grappling and submissions department, but no one in the division is more accomplished than Magalhaes.
Whether Davis would want to keep the action standing or test the waters on the floor will be an interesting storyline to keep watch on for this one.
The Bottom Line
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Davis' wrestling is a major advantage in this matchup because it allows him to dictate where the fight goes based on how well he fares on the feet. If he's getting the better of it, on the feet is where the action stays. If not, then to the ground it goes.
If Davis needed to take it to the mat, he'd be in danger of Magalhaes' submissions, but he's a very good grappler in his own right. Not on the Brazilian's level, but maybe good enough to survive there for awhile.
Besides, the ground is just a safety net for Davis, who could as easily make the whole fight a kick-boxing bout if he so chose.
I don't think he'd be able to take Davis down so he'd need to hurt him on the feet and either try to finish his foe there or force him to make it a grappling contest.
Magalhaes could certainly pull it off, but the discrepancy in his and Davis' wrestling games presents a tough challenge that might be too much for him to overcome.
Predicted winner: Davis
The striking is close, the wrestling is one-sided in Davis' favor and the grappling goes to Magalhaes.
If Davis were even able to keep it close on the feet he could win a decision by stealing rounds with late takedowns that forced him to grapple with his opponent for only short periods. Winning the fight on the feet just provides an alternative road to victory for Davis.
Because more scenarios play to Davis' favor, he's our projected winner for this UFC 159 match.