Phil Davis walked into Brazil at UFC 163 as a decided underdog to former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida, but when the night was over, he walked out a victor—albeit with a cloud of controversy swirling overhead.
Davis and Machida engaged in a hotly contested battle over the course of 15 minutes with neither fighter landing any earth-shattering punches or razor-close submissions. At that point, the fight was down to a matter of inches—or in this case, takedowns.
With time winding down in Round 1 and Round 2, Davis put Machida on his back and kept him there with complete control. On the feet, Machida seemed to get the better of the exchanges, but the strikes landed were few and far between from either man.
According to FightMetric, Machida outlanded Davis 27-21 in total significant strikes throughout the three-round fight. Machida won the first and third rounds in strikes, while Davis slipped by him in the second round with eight significant strikes to the Brazilian's seven.
Davis attempted 10 takedowns, completing only two over the course of the fight, but it seems they paid off in the total scoring.
"I think I definitely did enough (to win)," Davis told Fuel TV after the fight ended. "I trust the judges. I've got to trust the judges when I lose, I've got to trust the judges when I win, they gave me the wink, they gave me the nod, so I've got to say thanks."
He knew he was walking into enemy territory by taking on Machida in his home country of Brazil, but ultimately he had to stick to his guns and just fight his fight. He says he will have a better perspective of the fight once he gets home and watches the tape, but he knows just from being in the battle with Machida that it was a close affair.
"Here's the thing—this is his home country, I know it was a close fight, I know that I was in there. I had fists graze my head the whole time. I know," he explained. "It's one of those things where you're so close to the action you have no idea how it looks from the outside. A lot of times I watch fights and then I go home and I'm like man that looks completely different from a first person perspective.
"I was thinking 100 percent, man this is close, please go my way."
The judges' scorecards were a mixed tally. Two judges gave Davis the first round, while all three gave him the second, which was statistically his best round.
The third round was the exact opposite of the first, with two judges giving the nod to Machida and judge Chris Watts scoring the round for Davis.
The totals still came up the same, however. All three judges had Davis ahead, 29-28.
The win marked Davis' biggest victory in the UFC to date. According to the official rankings from the UFC, he was ranked No. 7, while Machida was the No. 1 fighter at light heavyweight (behind champion Jon Jones) going into the fight. The win now puts Davis one step closer to a potential title shot, although he's going to leave that decision up to the UFC.
"That's not for me to decide. He was the No. 1 contender, he's been on top for a while, he has been promised a title shot. I can't say enough about how awesome the man is, so a win over him, I don't know where that puts me," he stated. "That's for the bosses to decide."
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.