After such a devastating finish against Lyoto Machida, fans are immediately looking to the next possible threat to Jon Jones' UFC Light Heavyweight Championship. While Jones faced some adversity in the first round, the second was vintage "Bones," as he put Machida to sleep with a standing guillotine choke.
The obvious choice for the next title challenger will be the winner of Rashad Evans versus Phil Davis at UFC on Fox 2 on January 28, 2012. While Evans is the favorite, many believe that "Mr. Wonderful" is the biggest threat to Jones.
Davis has only been in the sport for about three years and has consistently improved with every performance. In his short stint in the UFC, he has gone 5-0, sending both Brian Stann and Tim Boetsch down to the middleweight division after dominating both of them. Davis has also defeated Alexander Gustafsson via anaconda choke and most recently, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
While Jones has some of the most effective takedowns in mixed martial arts, Davis has the more impressive wrestling credentials, having been a four-time NCAA Division I All-American and 2008 National Champion. Jones has made a habit out of putting wrestlers such as Matt Hamill and Ryan Bader on their backs, but Davis may be more athletic than anyone the champion has faced before.
Davis did have some issues getting Nogueira to the ground in his last fight, but eventually changed his attack to single-leg takedowns in order to finish the job. As far as wrestling goes, both are fairly evenly matched.
Both Davis and Jones have displayed their ability to finish fights via submission. Jones has choked three of his last four opponents, while Davis pulled off an impressive anaconda choke in addition to a modified kimura dubbed the "Mr. Wonderful." Possibly due to Jones' 84.5 inch reach, he seems more capable of finding chokes from different angles and seems to hold a slight edge.
When it comes to striking, Jones is on a different level. Davis' striking has looked rather rudimentary in all of his UFC bouts, while Jones has evolved as a striker at an unbelievable rate. He's fast, accurate, and unpredictable. The UFC Light Heavyweight Champion would hold a 5.5 inch reach advantage, which is relatively small in comparison to what he usually has.
Surprisingly enough, Jones, at just 24 years old, would have a significant advantage in terms of experience. At this point, Davis has just nine professional bouts and actually began fighting six months after Jones. Davis has faced some quality competition, but nothing near what Jones has dealt with. This year alone, Jones has fought three former UFC Light Heavyweight Champions in "Shogun" Rua, "Rampage" Jackson, and Lyoto Machida.
Phil Davis is sure to become a true force in the 205-pound weight class, but it's difficult to imagine anyone being a serious threat to him for a long time. Still, it'll be interesting to see if Davis can get past Rashad Evans and make this title shot a reality.