In a battle of youth and athleticism against experience and technique, the youngster Phil Davis
defeated the legendary Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Saturday night at UFC Fight Night 24
But it wasn't easy.
Although Davis came into the fight as a heavy favorite and had been proclaimed by some as the man who would some day beat UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, Nogueira made life difficult for Davis in the early going, and the fight turned into a 15-minute, back-and-forth battle that was closer than the judges' scorecards -- all of which gave Davis the fight 30-27 -- would suggest.
"He's tough," Davis said of Nogueira afterward. "He's resilient."
In the first round Nogueira was particularly effective at shrugging off the takedown attempts from Davis, who was an NCAA champion wrestler at Penn State and is excellent at taking his opponents down and keeping them down. Davis had to be frustrated at the end of the first, even though all three judges gave it to him.
But midway through the second round something clicked for Davis, and he successfully employed a single-leg takedown to get Nogueira to the canvas. From there, Davis controlled the second round with ground and pound. And in the third round Davis again used a single-leg takedown effectively and was able to control Nogueira on the ground.
Davis improved his professional MMA record to 9-0 and showed off some of the athleticism and wrestling technique that makes him a great prospect for the UFC. But he also showed that he can't just waltz into the cage and dominate a legend. Nogueira gave him all he could handle.