In the co-main event of UFC 163, American star Phil "Mr. Wonderful" Davis defeated Brazilian Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida via unanimous decision and likely earned a chance to be the No. 1 contender in the light heavyweight division.
The first round featured a heavy dose of the two fighters feeling each other out, with Machida and Davis both trying to find their range. The Dragon was able to land a flurry of strikes that appeared to wobble Mr. Wonderful, but Davis answered with a takedown in the final minute to make the round fairly even.
The second frame played out in similar fashion. Machida used his trademark patient approach to bait Davis into exchanges, while the former Penn State wrestler refused to engage enough to open himself to counterattacks.
The Dragon again landed a few heavy strikes, but Davis scored another late-round takedown to make things interesting.
The third round saw a spike in the pace of the fight. Machida began to open up his striking and even took Davis’ back after Mr. Wonderful botched a takedown.
Ultimately, all three judges believed that Davis did enough to take the decision.
Davis has now won three fights in a row and looks to have shaken off the aftershock of losing to Rashad Evans in a title eliminator in January of 2012. He was also involved in a no-contest decision with Wagner Prado later that year, and it looked as if Davis had lost his momentum.
The American star was 9-0 before his loss to Evans last year, knocking off names like Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Tim Boetsch, Brian Stann and current No. 1 contender Alexander Gustafsson. Now he looks to be firmly back on track.
As great as the win is for Davis, the loss is equally impactful on Machida.
The former champion was on a two-fight winning streak after losing in his title shot against Jon Jones in 2011—defeating Dan Henderson and Ryan Bader—before losing to Davis on Saturday night.
The tough loss derails all of the momentum that he was trying to rebuild.
While this was an enjoyable fight, Dana White and the UFC matchmakers are already looking ahead to what’s next for both men. The victory for Davis should indicate a title shot, but the division is stacked with top stars.
If Jones isn’t next for Davis, the American must have his rematch with Evans. This fight has the built-in storylines to make it intriguing to casual fans and could main event one of the UFC’s shows.
Machida’s tough loss likely indicates he will square off with another fighter looking for vengeance. If Gustafsson loses to Jones, he would be the most likely next opponent for Machida.