Now that former—as in long years ago—light-heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz has officially pulled out of his impending headliner bout against Antonio “Lil Nog” Nogueira, electric MMA forums can have a hay-day ripping poor Ortiz DOS apart, cranking the stun guns to max.
Let me get everybody to speed if that opening statement seems a bit harsh. The Huntington Beach Bad Boy hasn’t been bad since the days Liddell was knocking dudes out cold; not winning a fight since the days when beating on Ken Shamrock for the second time was in.
Love him or hate him, Tito finds himself in a perpetual cycle of agonizing bad luck mixed with injury. Where does that leave us in the peanut gallery? There are a lot of cheap shots that can be aimed at Tito’s junk…”why didn’t you duck the juicer Jenna threw at you?” The list could go on thanks to the consistent disappointment fans have experienced in the last half decade.
So, our anti-hero suffered stitches and a “bad” concussion on the wake of a promotional dawn for UFC: Fight Night Seattle, keeping him out of Nogueira’s cross-hairs. Who would be a reasonable replacement, so close to the fight that would drum up enough excitement to get fans caring?
The UFC think tank and co decided on prospect Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis to take on the legendary name and veteran in Nogueira at UFC: Fight Night in Seattle on March 26th. If you follow the sport, you know that injury is a common culprit for most major events, but when it’s Tito perpetrating the fraud, it makes you cringe.
Waiting for Tito to make his comeback and waiting for the Chicago Cubs to win the World Series is the same curse, just imposed on different sports fans. Now that his replacement has been announced, can somebody as inexperienced as Phil Davis take advantage of an opportunity to fight the high profile Lil Nog in a headlining spot? Many people will be quick to think so, but not me, says the proclaimed “expert.”
Look no further than the records if you’re a non-believer of how experience plays a role in such a complex sport. Young Davis comes into this fight sporting eight professional fights to his name, unlike his opponent, who has only four losses in his last 23 sanctioned fights.
It’s hard to succumb to the notion that Davis is similar to the newly crowned contender Jon Jones, in sense that he possesses the same intuitive striking and effective wrestling that would make Lil Nog shake in his boots.
We’ve seen Davis acquire a stellar debut decision victory over Brian Stann and manhandle Alexander Gustafson and Tim Boetsch, all in the octagon, while growing as a mixed martial artist. What we haven’t seen is him come toe-to-toe with a seasoned veteran in a headlining slot in the octagon.
The opposing figure standing in front of Davis’ path to glory is a fighter accustom to gritty battles with guys like Mezger, Nakamura (2x), Sakuraba, Overeem (2x), Henderson, Matyushenko and Luiz Cane.
If records were disregarded, Lil Nog has too many edges over his wonderful novice opponent, skill wise. Davis’ boxing is in a galaxy far, far away from Nog’s. As the youngster is still improving with each fight, Nog has trained with the Cuban National Boxing Team, and knocked out five with eight respectable decision victories. His striking technical is clearly superior.
Maybe an argument could be made in the favor of Davis’ athleticism and wrestling when matched up against an older Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner like Lil Nog. Make not doubt about it, Mr. Wonderful’s broadness is unmatched in the UFC—and probably the rest of the world. The guy has a frame like an upside down Christmas tree; his explosive strength is also unquestioned.
Once he accomplishes a take-down, what can he really expect to do with it? A black-belt in BJJ will not allow a fighter at Davis’ level to pull off another Mr. Wonderful submission, especially after acquiring six of his own MMA submission victories. Off his back, Lil Nog can easily catch the less experience Davis is a triangle or armbar.
Despite being an intriguing and captivating fight for fans and Phil Davis, the result on March 26th should be far from surprising.
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