Jon Jones was all smiles on Saturday night after winning his eighth UFC title fight and watching Phil Davis fall to Anthony Johnson.
UFC 172 was a unique event for the simple fact that most of the attention appeared to be directed toward the growing beef between Jones and Davis.
From all of the media coverage and constant trash talk, an initial assumption would be that Jones and Davis were actually the ones competing in the main event—not Jones and Glover Teixeira. Of course, the pre-fight chatter was considerably one-sided, as Davis seemed determined to talk his way into title contention.
Davis has consistently proven himself as a legitimate contender in the light heavyweight division, but his passive personality in the public eye has been a constant reason for him being overlooked in the title picture.
Bottom line: No one cared about seeing Davis fight Jones.
In hopes of drumming up interest for a potential title fight, Davis took a page out of Chael Sonnen’s book and went on an epic smear campaign.
The plan worked like a charm. Before you knew it, “Mr. Wonderful” had fans eating out of the palm of his hand.
The initial reaction was a mixture of outrage and excitement. Some condemned Davis for taking the road of a professional wrestling jobber, churning out lines like a 1980s heel. Others loved the enthusiasm. Regardless, people finally found a reason to care about Davis and his position in the light heavyweight division.
“He can feel me right now. If you can be in Jon Jones’ head right now, you could feel my eyeballs burning onto his skin,” Davis told MMAFighting’s Ariel Helwani earlier in the week.
On the contrary, Jones couldn’t feel anything from Davis.
He was already occupied with his UFC title fight with Teixeira. While Davis’ antics entertained fans, Jones was very business-like in deflecting every verbal jab the hopeful contender threw his way.
Perhaps Davis could have learned a thing or two from Jones.
In such an unpredictable sport like MMA, it is never wise to look past an opponent and automatically assume things will turn out as expected. Davis was so preoccupied with Jones that he forgot he had an opponent of his own on Saturday night: Anthony “Rumble” Johnson.
For three rounds, Johnson viciously force-fed Davis spoons of humble pie in one of the year’s biggest upsets. After the fight, Jones congratulated Johnson with four high-fives:
“Freaking yes, you got him," Jones said at the post-fight press conference. "I told him to focus. I said, ‘Well, keep on talking trash Phil.’ I heard you were hitting him with uppercuts. Nice man, freaking congratulations. Phil was talking all that greasiness and now he’s somewhere pouting.”
Davis didn’t attend the press conference, but did leave a post on Twitter for his fans.
Sorry guys.....(audible sigh) thanks so much for all the support— Phil Davis (@PhilMrWonderful) April 27, 2014
This is definitely a tough loss for Davis, but at only 29 years old, the arrow continues to point up for the former Penn State Division I wrestler. An old adage is that a person should never look beyond what they can see.
We can all rest assured knowing Davis won’t be looking past any more opponents anytime soon.
Jordy McElroy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also the MMA writer for Rocktagon.