Alexis Davis entered her UFC 161 contest in Winnipeg looking to set herself up in contention for the women's bantamweight title owned by undisputed champion Ronda Rousey.
The bout, which took place against Rosi Sexton on the pay-per-view portion of the event, marked Davis' debut in the UFC, though her submission prowess was well known from her time in organizations such as Invicta FC and Strikeforce.
Against a very game Sexton, however, the heavy favorite struggled. She grabbed hold of a triangle in the first round and held it for some time before the attempt failed. Throughout the second and third rounds, she continued to seek out submission opportunities, but Sexton proved too tough.
But Davis still managed to walk away with the unanimous decision on Saturday night. Here's what we learned from the fight.
What We Learned about Alexis Davis
Davis is obviously a versatile grappler, and she's plenty dangerous from a submission standpoint. However, we saw her struggle to get the finish, even though she had a handful of opportunities to do so.
One of those opportunities came in the first round with a triangle choke attempt, while another opportunity came at the end of the second round. Each time, Davis seemed to have the fight right where she needed it to be in order to get the finish. Then, when the fight appeared on the verge of ending, she failed to secure the stoppage.
Also, following the triangle choke attempt in the first, Davis wore down quickly, which is likely the reason she was not able to finish a damaged Sexton in the second.
Davis obviously has the grappling chops and submission prowess to be a factor in the UFC women's bantamweight division. She had moments of brilliance at UFC 161, but she'll have to be sharper in future outings if she hopes to hang with the division's elite.
What We Learned about Rosi Sexton
Sexton was a steep underdog in this fight, and at certain moments that was obvious. But one thing we know for sure: Rosi Sexton is one tough fighter.
Several times, including early in the first round and at the end of the second round, Sexton was on the brink of losing the fight. Davis was either squeezing her neck, advancing to a dominant position or finding holes in her ground striking defense. Yet, after 15 minutes of actions, the fight went to the judges' scorecards.
Sexton is never going to be a contender in the UFC women's bantamweight division; fighters like Davis are simply more talented than she is. But the fact that she could fight through the submissions of a grappler of Davis' caliber is an impressive enough accomplishment, especially considering she was a 3-1 underdog.
Sexton won't win too often in the UFC, but she probably won't get finished either.
What's Next for Davis
Davis has already fought and defeated several women in the Top 10 of the UFC women's bantamweight rankings.
However, she has not defeated Sara McMann or Sarah Kaufman, and the latter even holds a majority decision win over her. McMann and Kaufman fight at the end of August, and I can't think of a better matchup than placing the winner of that fight against Davis.
Of course, if that timetable doesn't work, Davis could face the winner of Julie Kedzie vs. Germaine de Randamie. Those two meet next month at UFC on Fox 8.
What's Next for Sexton
Sexton was a game fighter, and she should get another fight in the UFC, though not against someone of Davis' caliber. She could face the loser of the aforementioned Kedzie vs. de Randamie matchup or the loser of Sheila Gaff vs. Amanda Nunes, which takes place in August.
The former sounds more likely due to the time frame.
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