The Magnified Scrutiny of Phil Davis Begins Following Jon Jones' Title Victory

Fans and media alike will focus heavily on Phil Davis this weekend as he battles Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC Fight Night 24. Photos by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Imagine yourself in your youthful days as a teenager, getting a fistful of money from your parents, grandparents, and relatives for your birthday, graduation, Bar Mitzvah, whatever the occasion. You're happy because you've had your eye on a particular "toy", but you couldn't afford it. Fortunately for you, grandpa's insurance settlement and mom's obsession with Bingo down at the lodge has paid off with extra generosity on this special occasion, allowing you to buy the coveted "toy". Perhaps it was an XBOX, Nintendo, roller skates, a baseball glove, a bike, Rock Band, a life-size wax model of a Hollywood socialite, an authentic movie-used Chewbacca costume. Whatever it was, you wanted it now. Not in two days. Not in a week. Right now.

With the advent of the Internet, the inability to find things became less of an excuse for getting the things you wanted. It became a way in which to find better deals, something that an obsessive kid doesn't care about in the slightest. Your friend tells you he found your "toy" on Amazon for cheaper than the store price with free shipping. You scoff at the idea. Why? Because you've turned yourself into Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, you big baby.

Mixed martial arts fans deal with a similar problem, except there is no "store" that holds our most anticipated fights on a shelf that we can take to the checkout counter and watch. We have to wait, and usually we wait a long, long time.

Following Jon Jones' impressive victory over Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua at UFC 128 this past weekend, many fans, including myself, were wondering who had the skills and proven strategy to take out the new champion. Was it Lyoto Machida? Quinton "Rampage" Jackson? Rashad Evans

My thoughts immediately focused on 2008 NCAA Division I champion Phil Davis. And to my surprise, Phil Davis battles Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in the most significant fight of his career on Saturday at UFC Fight Night 24. We won't have to wait months before Davis proves to the world that he has the potential to eventually challenge fighters like Machida, Jackson, Evans, and Jones atop the light heavyweight rankings. We'll be immediately treated to exactly what we hoped to see, an immediate answer, or at the very least some supporting evidence, to the idea that Davis could be a contender. 

Davis remains undefeated with eight victories, four under the UFC banner. The resurgent Brian Stann, lanky Swedish prospect Alexander Gustafsson, Rodney Wallace, and Tim Boetsch all succumbed to the wrestling prowess of the Team Lloyd Irvin prospect who also continues to progress his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills. At a glance, Davis has the physical gifts to challenge Jones on the ground, and the relentless conditioning to push him to the brink of exhaustion. The question is whether he can progress the rest of his game and mold it together to become a championship caliber fighter.

Davis was a mere blip on the radar a week ago, but now he's been thrust into the discussion as an eventual contender to Jon Jones' potential reign atop the division. He is far from ready at this point in his career, but it's difficult to discount him considering the style he can bring to a fight. The scrutiny of his performance on Saturday night will be magnified in the aftermath of UFC 128 with a poor showing undoubtedly garnering outrageous opinions that Jones will be champion for the next decade.

As much as Phil Davis believes he isn't ready for Jon Jones, the UFC may come calling sooner rather than later. Davis has the opportunity to prove that he's not only ready for the spotlight, but that he has the progressing skills to eventually dethrone a world champion. Fans and media alike will be meticulously combing over Davis' strategy and skills inside the cage, looking for a glimpse of what the future might hold. Can Davis eventually vie for the title? We may get a clue on Saturday.


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