The introduction of new talent into the fold is key to the continued success of the UFC. We've seen a consistent trend of aging stars either succumbing to age, or dipping their hands into other ventures that take away from their ability to fight.
That forces Zuffa to hasten their efforts to begin featuring the future stars of the sport in higher profile fights, and UFC 123's main card light heavyweight battle between 2008 NCAA Division I wrestling champion Phil Davis (7-0, 3-0 UFC) and returning UFC veteran Tim Boetsch (12-3, 3-2 UFC) will do exactly that. Davis' ascension in the ranks has been rapid, and a training schedule that includes time at Alliance MMA, Team Lloyd Irvin, and even AKA has produced solid performances despite his inexperience in the sport.
I suppose inexperience is a bit of an exaggeration. After all, we've talked in great lengths about how wrestling is stifling our sport. Personally, I don't believe it smothers the sport in boredom, and fighters need to evolve for all situations... including the dominant wrestler. Since wrestling is such a large part of the sport, we could make the claim that Davis has extensive experience. It just doesn't involve punching.
Boetsch has an uphill battle ahead of him, and his only means of defeating Davis on Saturday night relies on his aggression and power. He normally comes out quick and commits to his power punches. More often than not, he'll land some of those blows and batter his opponent to a stoppage. In the UFC, that hasn't always been the case, but he's been very successful in bombing regional competition with that sort of gameplan.
Against Davis, it's almost a guarantee that Boetsch will need to modify that gameplan due to the threat of Davis' powerful wrestling. Hesitance is usually the result when a fighter must strategize to stop the takedown, and I believe we'll see that from Boetsch. Without an aggressive plan to swing for the fences at Davis early, Boetsch will likely become a backpedaling participant in a drubbing at the hands of Davis.
Davis shouldn't have any problems in this fight. Boetsch must land a downing blow in the first few minutes of the bout to have any chance, and as the fight progresses -- Boetsch is almost guaranteed to run out of gas. Combine all of those elements with the pedigree of wrestling that Davis brings to the cage, and we really have an one-sided match-up that should showcase Davis' talents.