UFC 159 Preview: Phil Davis vs. Vinny Magalhaes Head-to-Toe Breakdown
The two light heavyweights are set to square off after months of Magalhaes calling out the former Penn State wrestling champion. It is now time to put up or shut up for the Brazilian.
The easy pick going into this is Davis as he's a Top-10 light heavyweight, while Magalhaes is a relative unknown to the UFC crowd. Indeed the main image of Magalhaes burned into the memory of fans is that of him getting dropped by Ryan Bader in The Ultimate Fighter 8 Finale.
However, regardless of how much of a favorite Davis is heading into this contest, don't be shocked if Magalhaes pulls off a submission victory.
Phil Davis (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)
Nobody is ever going to confuse either Phil Davis or Vinny Magalhaes for a prolific striker. These guys make their living with their grappling games.
Still, one of these two has developed his striking game more so than the other. Davis' striking continues to evolve, and it only makes him a more dangerous fighter. Combined with his raw athletic ability, Davis could be a dangerous foe on the feet if he can continue to improve his technique.
The one area Magalhaes may have the advantage in a striking breakdown is KO power. His KO of Mikhail Zayats was devastating, and we've yet to see Davis display any knockout ability from his feet.
What it will come down to when these men are on the feet is Magalhaes' willingness to trade strikes. The knock on him has always been his striking defense, and if he can't get Davis to the mat, he could be in for a long night.
Vinny Magalhaes (John Weible/Sherdog)
Phil Davis vs. Vinny Magalhaes could provide some very interesting scrambles if/when this fight goes to the ground.
Davis is a former NCAA Division I wrestling champion and a four-time All-American. Davis has also displayed a surprising amount of acumen when it comes to submissions including his famous "Mr. Wonderful" against Tim Boetsch.
However, Magalhaes' grappling credentials are on another planet compared to Davis. Magalhaes is a former world jiu-jitsu champion and an ADCC champion and also holds two bronze medals from the 2009 ADCC.
The names Magalhaes has grappled against and defeated are impressive to say the least. Guys like Rodrigo Cavaca, Marcio Cruz, Glover Teixeira, Dean Lister, Chris Weidman and Braulio Estima are just some of the men Magalhaes has beaten. He even owns a victory over UFC heavyweight contender Fabricio Werdum.
Davis is an accomplished grappler, but I'd expect to see a lot of position control if he takes Magalhaes down. He had a tough time with the guard of Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, and "Lil' Nog" is nowhere near as aggressive with his submissions as Magalhaes.
The submission game is Magalhaes' equivalent to a one-punch KO given his BJJ credentials. Davis may talk of wanting to beat the Brazilian via submission, but I don't expect Davis to push this fight to the ground. The question will be, can Magalhaes force the issue against the former wrestling champion?
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
We've seen two sides to each fighter in this contest.
Phil Davis was one fight away from a world title shot but froze in the moment against Rashad Evans. He can't have any mental lapses against a dangerous submission artist like Vinny Magalhaes, or he could end up tapping the canvas.
Magalhaes has looked great outside the Octagon, but he's been somewhat of an underachiever given his immense grappling talent. Magalhaes went out of his way to call out Davis, and it's a big jump in competition for the Brazilian.
Will he rise to the occasion or fall back to the land of the undercard?