It seems like yesterday that a smaller than average heavyweight was wrecking fighters and smashing the odds on season two of "The Ultimate Fighter."
Cutting through the field and putting on a stunning performance to win the entire season, the rising star they call "Suga" was born.
Many years have passed and Rashad Evans has made his mark on the sport, dropping to light heavyweight and even earning a UFC title during his career so far.
He was once a rising star but now he is a battle-hardened veteran of the sport and the division.
Whereas once he was the future, he's now one of the standards. It's not only his job to continue setting the tone, but to become a litmus test for new stars looking to rise in the ranks.
Enter Phil Davis. Davis, like Evans once was, is undefeated in his young MMA career and looking more and more like a fighter who will carve his own legacy in the sport.
No one would dare call Evans an old lion, as his greatest days have surely yet to be written, but he is a seasoned fighter and will square off with Davis Saturday night.
Chi Town will become the setting for UFC on FOX 2, and these two are the main event.
It's a compelling matchup of young athletes at different places in their careers that will more than likely hold heavy implications for what happens next in the UFC light heavyweight title picture for Jon Jones.
The division is stacked neck deep with the addition of Dan Henderson, Jones at the top, and countless contenders just waiting to rock one another to cut their way to the front of the line.
Davis and Evans represent the upper echelon of those knocking on the door.
It comes as no surprise to see the MMA community clamoring to see this fight unfold inside the octagon so they can see the line move forward in one of the UFC's most dynamic divisions.
The young lion that he is, Davis has a tall order in front of him—defeating Evans.
At 9-0 with the ability to fight the distance, submit, or knockout a fighter, Davis has the tools to engage any UFC light heavyweight.
It just so happens he has positioned himself to take on one of the best, and to become one of the best, he must indeed beat the best.
To hear Alliance MMA's head coach Eric del Fierro tell it, they are fully confident and capable of leading Davis to becoming that fighter.
Davis has trained at Alliance MMA under master game planner Del Fierro, a man who led Dominick Cruz to become a top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport.
Del Fierro recently spoke with Todd Jackson of Hurtsbad MMA about the bout between Davis and Evans.
He gave Hurtsbad the impression that they have tremendous respect for Evans, but feel they have prepared their rising star to unseat him as a potential No. 1 contender.
Del Fierro first explained to Hurtsbad what he sees across the cage from Davis on fight night.
"Rashad obviously has some advantages, the biggest of which is experience," Del Fierro said. "He has been in big fights before. He has been the main event for tons of fights. The guy is a beast. He is a tough challenge for Phil."
The Alliance head coach sees this opportunity as a motivating one for his fighter, Davis.
"Phil is still the new kid on the block," Del Fierro said. "After one year in the UFC, going on his second year, he's going up against probably the No. 1 contender in the world right now at 205. This is an exciting time for Phil and he is looking forward to the matchup."
Evans has been around for a few minutes and fans recognize him. With the UFC just now gaining traction on FOX, many casual fans may not recognize Davis they way they will a marquee fighter like Evans.
When asked what he might tell the casual fan about his fighter, Del Fierro offered an explanation.
"Phil is a competitor. He has garnered a lot of followers and fans because of the person that he is, not just over his fighting ability," Del Fierro said. "The guy is just fun to be around, and he is a great representative of the sport.
"He is 100 percent a competitor, he never takes anything personal and he's just here to compete. He looks forward to it. The casual fan is going to get excited for someone like Phil Davis because he is bringing it. He has a lot of tricks to show off for this fight."
Part of the reason Davis is not a mainstream type of fighter is because of how fast he has burst onto the scene.
Like UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones, Davis has flourished in a short time frame, rising to the top so fast that many people didn't see him coming.
Del Fierro explained, "He is growing in leaps and bounds. A lot of people don't realize he has only been in the sport going on two-and-a-half years.
"He has been with us over that time and one of those years was spent fighting back to back to back in the UFC. He fought a total of five times last year. So all the training was basically on the job training."
For a hard working fighter like Davis, in a rough and tumble sport like MMA, there are always risks with competing at this level and as frequently as Davis has.
Yet, where one door closes, another creeps open, and where adversity is found, the greatest of athletes find opportunity. At Alliance MMA, Del Fierro and Davis adopted such an approach.
"We just kept him in shape for fighting," Del Fierro said. "He had little things to learn for each fight, he implemented those things and he did great. That is how we set up the learning curve last year.
"This year, since the injury and being out for a couple of months, we had time to slow everything down and learn some new tricks. You're going to see a new and improved Phil Davis."
No coach will ever tell you, 'Hey, my guy is going to be terrible this time out.'
But looking at the track record of Del Fierro with rising stars like Cruz, fight fans know he's a leader who excels with the right tools. His tool in this case, Davis, is yet another rising star.
Del Fierro is confident in his fighter and his abilities because he recognizes the potential in Davis.
He clearly sees the challenges Evans poses across the cage, but Del Fierro clearly feels his fighter is up to the challenge in both preparation and capability.
Tune in to FOX this Saturday night, fight fans, and we'll all have a chance to see exactly what Davis will bring to the table against the former UFC light heavyweight champ.
With the talent both of these men boast, this is a fight you definitely will not want to miss.
This article originally featured at Hurtsbad MMA. Follow us on Twitter @HurtsBad.
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