The UFC 172 media call was initially set up to allow the media to ask questions in order to hype this weekend’s event. UFC light heavyweight Phil Davis had other plans, though. He decided that wasn’t good enough and hijacked the media call.

Davis took it upon himself to launch a verbal assault at UFC champion Jon Jones that ranged from sugar cookies to teddy bears. Davis made it clear he believes Jones lost his title fight with Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165 and that Davis would have no issues with “cleaning up whatever is left” after Glover Teixeira fights Jones at UFC 172.

The champ responded in his usual style, attempting to be “the bigger man” and not get swept into a trash-talk game. He did say that he has nothing to prove by fighting a guy like Davis. Still, Davis is ranked in the top five in the division. If he can defeat Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, Davis could find himself in line for a title shot.

Considering that it’s a near universal assumption that Jones will top Teixeira at UFC 172, and assuming Davis makes it past Rumble, how would Davis match up with the UFC champion?

Just like every MMA fight, we’ll start this off with both guys on the feet. Jones has become a master at using his length to control the distance in nearly all of his UFC title defenses. Davis is a lanky fighter despite standing only 6-foot-2, but he would suffer the same reach/height disadvantage that most of Jones’ opponents face. Jones’ striking isn’t innovative at its core. He uses an array of kicks to control the distance and deploys razor sharp elbows once the fight gets to close quarters. Yes, Jones is capable of spectacular showings of technique, but his style, at its base, revolves around using basic techniques to keep opponents at a distance.

Davis has increased his striking skills since entering the UFC, but they’re not at a level that could combat Jones. Davis has gotten better at mixing up kicks with his punches, but he has yet to prove that he can hold his own against Jones. Davis doesn’t have the dangerous one-punch knockout power of other opponents that have faced Jones, and that would be a major hindrance if he decided to stand and bang with the UFC champ.

Davis’s main strength isn’t his striking, though. It’s his wrestling. He’s a former NCAA Division I wrestling champ and competed at Penn State, one of the best schools in the country for wrestling. Davis has also incorporated some slick submission skills to his repertoire. Who could forget his kimura finish of Tim Boetsch at UFC 123?

If Davis were to look at an area where he would have the greatest advantage, it would be in putting the champion on his back. We’ve seen signs that Jones is susceptible to submission attempts, and Jones himself has even admitted that it’s his weakness.

Of course, getting the champion down is an entirely different task in itself. The only person we’ve seen have success at putting Jones on his back was Gustafsson. But you could easily attribute that to Jones not expecting takedown attempts out of the striking-based Swede. The champ is great at using his opponent’s leverage against them and using trips to secure takedowns. Davis would have to bring a lot more to the table than a power double-leg if he were to face Jones.

On paper, at least, a Davis-Jones showdown would place “Mr. Wonderful” as a pretty big underdog. Davis hasn’t won in impressive fashion since his finish against Wagner Prado at UFC 153, and his lack of finishes wouldn’t sit well with oddsmakers. However, although Davis doesn’t have the one-punch knockout power to threaten Jones on the feet, he does have the submission skills to coax a tapout on the mat. Yet, with Gustafsson next in line and the winner of the fight between Daniel Cormier and Dan Henderson promised a title shot, Davis has plenty of time to improve his game to dethrone the champ.

In the meantime, he’ll continue to talk his way towards a title shot.

About The Author

Kyle Symes
Staff Writer

Kyle is a recent graduate of Aurora University, where he obtained a Bachelor's in Communications. Kyle resides in Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He played baseball and football in both high school and college, but is now focusing on an amateur MMA career.