Perhaps the most controversial ending at UFC 163 came as Phil Davis picked up a unanimous decision victory over Lyoto Machida. With the local Brazilian crowd, as well as many at home, scoring the fight in favor of Machida, it was Davis who walked away with the win.
The question is, what key statistics defined Davis' debated win over Machida?
Some offered up the belief that Machida won all three rounds, thus clearly deserving to win the fight as a whole. Others believed that every time Machida supposedly stepped up, Davis countered with a block or a move of his own.
Even UFC president Dana White had Machida winning this one in dominant fashion.
Unfortunately for the Brazilian star, the judges didn't agree.
Some have speculated—and with good reason—that the judges penalized Machida for refusing to engage Davis. That's been an issue in many of his recent fights, as Machida fights defensively and picks his spots as he becomes the aggressor.
The question is, what numbers truly defined this fight?
During the course of the clash between Davis and Machida, there was a visible contrast in fighting style. While Davis consistently brought the fight to Machida, attempting takedowns throughout, the latter decided to keep the clash on two feet.
Just check the numbers.
The chart placed above measures strike percentage.
Machida's unwillingness to grapple may have played into his defeat, but that was hardly the only number worth knowing. Instead, the best measure of this fight may have been the impact that approach had on the fight—not just the way it happened.
Upon evaluating the numbers, it's clear that Machida was the man who landed the most significant strikes.
Normally, landing more significant head and body strikes would be enough to secure a decision.
This is a clear example of the judges rewarding the fighter who was more aggressive, thus being perceived as the pace-controlling fighter. Even as Machida outclassed Davis in efficiency and effectiveness, his defensive style wasn't appreciated—even if the numbers say it should've been.
According to FightMetric.com, 44.3 percent of Machida's total attempts landed as significant strikes. He converted 27 by that measurement, which ended up being his grand total for overall connected punches and kicks.
By comparison, the same source reports that 21.4 percent of Davis' attempts were significant strikes, with nine of the 21 going to the legs. Only 12 went to the head or body, which pales in comparison to Machida's 23.
The deciding factor, however, was not the amount of significant strikes landed, nor was it the efficiency. Instead, it was all about style in this one, as the judges made a point to acknowledge the following numbers.
Davis landed 29-of-98 total strikes to Machida's 27-of-61.
The final numbers on each man's behalf are what defined this outcome, as Davis threw 37 more punches and kicks than Machida. Furthermore, Davis was 2-for-10 on takedowns, while Machida didn't register a single try.
To quote the backhanded compliment that no one wants to hear, the judges gave Davis an A for effort and completely overlooked Machida's efficient dominance.
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