A week ago exactly light heavyweight phenom Jon "Bones" Jones took out the then current UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua in dominating fashion.
In fact, a lot of people expected Jones to snatch the title from Rua's grip, but nobody really expected it to be such a landslide victory for Jones—most thought it was going to be a hard fought battle.
After the dust from UFC 128's main event settled, many have been left wondering who newly minted UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones could be challenged by in the division. Many preliminary thoughts were that nobody in the light heavyweight division could challenge Jones and that the only real challenge would be against current middleweight champion Anderson Silva or current UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez.
That being said, UFC prospect and former NCAA division I freestyle wrestling champion Phil "Mr. Wonderful" Davis came up as one of the guys who could pose a threat to Jon Jones' expected title reign in the UFC light heavyweight division.
Davis possesses a wrestling base that is second to none, he has showcased good Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and his athletic prowess has allowed him to remain creative and competitive while standing up.
Despite being a relative newcomer to the sport, many have high hopes for Davis as he boasts a 9-0 record and is very proficient in one of the best bases for mixed martial arts—wrestling.
Although Davis seems to have all the intangibles, the UFC has been treating Davis with kid gloves, giving him guys who weren't too high up on the light heavyweight totem pole.
Enter Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, better known by the nickname Lil Nog. Lil Nog was scheduled to fight Tito Ortiz this Saturday night at Ultimate Fight Night 24 in Seattle. Unfortunately, Ortiz was forced to withdraw from his bout with Nogueria due to a large cut sustained in training,
The unfortunate turn of events for Ortiz was music to the ears of Davis as the UFC offered Davis the fight with Lil Nog. Surely an offer the 26-year-old prospect could not refuse. A fight against Nogueira is Davis' highest profile fight to date.
The Brazilian Lil Nog has medaled in boxing for the Brazilian Olympic team and holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu—Jitsu. He is no slouch for any fighter, but in his last two fights Lil Nog has struggled with tough wrestlers in the form of journeyman Jason Brilz, where Lil Nog won a controversial split decision and against NCAA division I wrestling standout Ryan Bader where Lil Nog was on the receiving end of a loss by way of unanimous decision.
Due to Davis' elite wrestling background and level of athleticism, many expected Lil Nog to be his stepping-stone to stardom. Unfortunately for Davis, the game plan against Lil Nog probably wasn't executed as planned.
Phil Davis came out in Round 1 being stuffed on all five of his take down attempts on Lil Nog.
For that first round it looked as if the recruitment of NCAA Division I wrestling champion Mark Munoz to team Blackhouse was really paying off for Lil Nog. Until last night, nobody had really stuffed the shots of Davis the way Lil Nog had.
Alas, it was only a question of style, as soon as Davis started going for single leg take downs as oppose to the standard doubles, fans witnessed the disintegration of Lil Nog's take down defense that looked so strong in round one.
As Rounds 2 and 3 of UFN 24's main event went on, people quickly saw how easily Davis was able to utilize his strong wrestling base and top control game to grind away the win from Lil Nog.
Unfortunately for Davis, he didn't look quite ready to snatch the light heavyweight title from Jones just yet.
In Rounds 1 and 2, Davis was caught a couple times by some of Lil Nog's right hooks and straight lefts. Although Davis didn't look outclassed at any point in the stand up against Lil Nog, it is obvious that his stand up needs some improvement.
Most importantly though was the fact that Davis had incredible difficulty getting Lil Nog down to the ground, in the first round.
Now had Davis been fighting NCAA Division I wrestlers like Matt Hamil or Mark Munoz, struggling with his take downs wouldn't have been a cause for concern. However, struggling against Lil Nog's take down defense definitely set off an alarm bell because there are guys in the division with much better take down defense and Jon Jones is definitely one of them.
Did the hype really die for Davis last night? No, not really. Davis is still a tremendous athlete with a great wrestling base and that is enough to get anyone pretty far in the UFC. However, what fans did see last night is that Davis is still a work in progress and he has to continue to round out his skill set a bit more before taking a shot at the light heavyweight title.
Davis is comparable to current welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre in terms of sheer athleticism and wrestling. St-Pierre met some bumps in the road early on in his career against the likes of Matt Serra and Matt Hughes, but it didn't stop him from evolving as a fighter and suring up on the weaknesses that had been exposed in those fights.
For Davis, he still has his undefeated record intact and as long as he learns from each and every fight he has in the UFC, there is no reason why he won't have a chance at touching UFC Gold before his career is done. He simply isn't ready for it yet.
Leon Horne has been contributing to Bleacher Report for three years now. He focuses mainly on mixed martial arts, but he has also written about tennis, football and hockey. Just send him a message if you want to talk sports or discuss any opportunities. You can follow him on Twitter for updates:
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