Phil Davis, the No. 8 ranked light heavyweight, will meet No. 1 ranked Lyoto Machida at UFC 163 in August.
Will a victory in Rio be enough for Davis to potentially challenge for the gold later this year?
Yes,it will be.
There are several factors at play for Davis to get a title shot, but first and foremost, lets focus on winning.
A win at UFC 163 will mark Davis' third in a row—the other two victories in the streak are Wagner Prado and Vinny Magalhaes. While not exactly marquee victories, they are still consecutive wins.Only one fighter ranked above Davis would have a longer winning streak than three: Glover Teixeira.
Of the fighters ranked ahead of Davis currently, two are coming off losses and two are previous victims of his.
In a 2011 fight between Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Davis, Davis took home a unanimous decision.
Since that loss, Nogueira has pulled off consecutive victories over Tito Ortiz and Rashad Evans. Those two wins are certainly better than Davis', but in making a case for a title shot Davis still holds a head-to-head win over Nogueira.
Aside from the win streak, Davis will have knocked off the No. 1 contender in Machida. Adding that to his resume will only add to his claim for a title shot.
Davis can even claim being the only current blemish on Alexander Gustafsson's record. Gustafsson is next up for Jon Jones at UFC 165.
With a win, there is only one likely fighter to be ahead of Davis, and that is No. 3 ranked Teixeira; he has not lost a single fight since 2005. His win streak and momentum will almost definitely win out over Davis.
Teixeira will likely fight again this year, and if he does, No. 4 ranked Evans is a likely choice.
One of the biggest things in Davis' favor is the upcoming title fight itself.
Machida has been promised a title shot, but according to Dana White at the UFC 161 pre-fight press conference Jones doesn't want to fight Machida because he already defeated him. The champion wants new challenges, but he has already defeated half of the top 10.
And should Gustafsson win, there is little doubt he would want to try and erase the memory of the loss with a rematch against Davis.
No matter who wins at UFC 165, Davis has a legitimate claim for the next title shot.
First things first, a very dangerous fighter awaits him. A victory against Machida would elevate Davis in to the top five, and a win over the top-ranked light heavyweight would give him a leg up on his competition. Looking too far down the road is dangerous, but it is hard to avoid taking a glance at the top of the mountain.
A win in Rio puts Davis near the summit.
In the current landscape of the division, a win over Machida makes Davis' title aspirations very realistic— he would be in the catbird's seat.
So, could he be next in line at the light heavyweight crown?
There is little doubt a win over Machida does just that for Davis. He has all the right things going for him to make it happen.
Now just comes that pesky little detail of defeating Lyoto Machida.