Phil Davis meets Rashad Evans this Saturday in the main event slated for UFC on FOX 2. Although UFC president Dana White made it clear to Fuel TV's Ariel Helwani that Evans will get his long-awaited title shot against Jon Jones should he come out victorious against Davis, the same cannot be said for Davis. Dan Henderson appears to be title contender No. 2 should Evans lose or get injured, but Davis isn't phased by it one bit.
"Whoever the UFC decides to give me next is fine with me," Davis told Bleacher Report. "All I'm really worried about is winning the fight, and I don't really care what comes after this. I don't care if they have me fight the Goodyear tire guy after this. I don't care, you know?"
Davis knows he has work to do and he was humble enough to tell MMAjunkie.com back in April 2011 that he wanted to take some time off to improve his game before returning to the Octagon after what was deemed by some a disappointing victory over veteran Antonio Rogerio Nogueira last March.
Time off is what Davis got but, as with most things in life, it didn't work out exactly as planned. Davis injured his knee and was forced to pull out of two fights against Evans at UFC 133 and Lyoto Machida at UFC 140.
"I definitely got laid off for awhile, but it's definitely been good for me, though. I picked up a lot as a fighter, so it's good," Davis said.
A fight with Evans is a huge opportunity for the man that calls himself Mr. Wonderful. Previous wins over Nogueira, Brian Stann and Alexander Gustafsson are nothing to balk at, but Evans has been the consensus No. 2 light heavyweight in the division for quite some time now. A win over Evans would place Davis very close to the top of the division.
Davis recognizes the opportunity he has in front of him. Being able to fight the No. 2 contender in an event that will be broadcast to millions of homes through the FOX Network is the biggest opportunity afforded to Davis in his young career. When asked if this is the biggest fight of his career, Davis responded emphatically, "Absolutely!"
Along with being the biggest fight of his career, the fact that he is in a main event on FOX, the promotion and media buzz surrounding it comes with the territory.
"Definitely a lot more media and a lot more attention being paid to this event—as it should be," Davis said. "This fight's a big deal and so far that's the way it's been, getting a lot of media, a lot of coverage, and hopefully a pretty big turn out at the United Center as well."
Evans is an interesting opponent for Davis, since they are both from an NCAA Division I wrestling background. Davis is aware of the fact their wrestling bases may negate each other, but he is prepared to do whatever it takes to put Evans away and doesn't count out the idea that wrestling may play a big role in the fight.
"I don't know, that might happen [that wrestling is canceled out], but then again it might not. There is a good possibility that will not happen as well," Davis said. "I'm going to use whatever I can to put him away; I don't care what I use, punches, kicks, elbows, brass knuckles, whatever—if someone throws a fold-up chair in to the Octagon, I'm using it."
A little comedy from Davis, but all that to say it sounds like he is going to leave it all inside the cage this weekend.
Being a former NCAA national wrestling champion, we got to talking about another wrestler in the heavyweight division: freshly retired Brock Lesnar. Lesnar's legacy and time in mixed martial arts has always been called in to question because of how hard and fast he was pushed by the UFC due to his notoriety in the WWE. Despite the differing opinions on Lesnar, Davis is a guy that was in the big man's corner.
"I do think Brock Lesnar was good for the sport, he's just a big mammoth person with big giant hands and he had the ability to beat the crap out of people," Davis said. "It's crazy because people don't understand that in a lot of ways Lesnar isn't as technical as other fighters in the heavyweight division, but he can beat your head in. That's why he won, 'cause he is good at doing that. That's what it's about—he was great at it. I enjoyed watching him."
Davis wants to get a title like Lesnar and his quest for it starts with a win over Evans this Saturday. Davis admits to bringing in new guys and changing up his camp in preparation for this fight, but he didn't want to get in to the details.
"I'm not one for kissing and telling or preparing people for what they are about to see. All I can say is please don't change the channel, it's going to be nonsense," Davis said. "That is what I can say. It will be quite exciting."
Quite exciting is what this fight will have to be should Davis want a chance at being granted a title shot. As stated earlier, Henderson is the front-runner should Evans lose and some people even put Davis' training partner Alexander Gustafsson ahead of him on the list of title contenders, despite the fact Davis submitted him back at UFC 112. As far as Davis is concerned, he couldn't care less—in fact, he hopes Gustafsson gets a shot.
"I think Alex will be a big problem for Jones going forward. I say this with all honesty: I don't care if he gets the title shot before Hendo. I hope he gets the title shot in Sweden," Davis said. "At the end of the day, I'm rooting on my teammates and if I'm winning and my teammates are winning, that is all I really care about. Why would that bother me?"
A lot of fans are probably hoping to see Evans come away with the victory against Davis, not because they dislike Davis, but because they want to see the drawn-out bitter rivalry between Evans and light heavyweight champion Jon Jones come to fruition. When asked whether he'd feel pressured to hype a potential matchup with Jones to the extent that the Evans vs. Jones fight has been hyped, Davis doesn't feel it.
"No that doesn't so much matter to me, I'm just going to go out there and do what I do," Davis said. "Obviously I would love to see—I kind of want to see those two fight myself, but at the same time I've got a job to do."
Doing that job involves beating Evans this Saturday night anyway he can to continue to build upon his 9-0-0 record and work towards UFC gold.
It's rare that you talk to a fighter who can take criticism in stride and not be bothered by the things that are out of his control, but Davis appears to do an excellent job of this. Despite not being promised a title shot with a win, if the fight is as exciting as he says it will be, maybe the UFC won't have a choice, but to grant him that shot.
If people want to stay up to date on what's going on with Davis, follow him on Twitter @PhilMrWonderful.
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