In the main event of the evening at UFC Fight Night 24, 2008 NCAA Division I champion and potential future contender Phil Davis (8-0) faces his stiffest test to date as he battles Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (19-4) in light heavyweight action. Davis will aim to extend his undefeated streak to nine after defeating notables Tim Boetsch, Rodney Wallace, Alexander Gustafsson, and Brian Stann in past appearances. There is a lot of hype surrounding Davis as many fans, including myself, believe he has the potential to dethrone current champion Jon Jones as he improves.
The 34-year-old Nogueira, twin brother of heavyweight Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, has a difficult obstacle to overcome. On one hand, he's a versatile fighter, bringing a decorated amateur boxing background and vaunted Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills. On the other, he's facing a physical specimen who has highly-regarded wrestling skills and youth on his side. As Davis put it on Inside MMA last night, this is a classic match-up in which he makes no false assumptions about standing with "Lil Nog". Davis is looking to smother Nogueira in what he knows best.
Wrestling has long been a means to combating both the best grapplers in the world and the best strikers in the sport. Davis' strength and advancing submission skills pose more of a threat to opponents with each fight, and it isn't unimaginable that he pulls off a submission on Saturday, especially if he can tire his older foe over the course of the three-round affair.
I'm not convinced Davis has the skills to be that dangerous just yet. I do think that Davis has the wrestling acumen and top control game to relentlessly work and win this fight via the scorecards. While Nogueira has the submission game to threaten, his age and the fact that he relies on defensive grappling tactics to find openings leads me to believe he's in for a rude awakening on the ground. He can't stop takedowns, and hoping for Davis to leave his arm hanging is a means to getting pummeled from the top for fifteen minutes.
In my mind, Davis takes this fight the distance and wins on the scorecards. I think Nogueira has the grappling ability to potentially catch Davis in a submission, but I don't think his boxing will be a huge threat as the fight progresses. In the early moments of each round, it may be an immediate danger. Unfortunately, Nogueira's lacking takedown defense will hurt him. I'll go with Davis via decision.