It's a big night for the light heavyweight division, as Jon Jones defends his title against Glover Teixeira in the UFC 172 main event in Baltimore. But first, the co-main event pits Phil Davis (12-1, 1 NC MMA; 8-1, 1 NC UFC) against the returning Anthony Johnson (16-4 MMA, 7-4 UFC), who is no longer the welterweight who struggled to make the weight limit on a consistent basis.
It's a big meeting for these two, as Rumble has hit a stride since joining the Blackzilians and moving up in weight, but Davis is his toughest test yet. As for "Mr. Wonderful", fans have largely dismissed his controversial win over Lyoto Machida as a robbery, so he needs a convincing performance tonight. The UFC 172 main card airs live on PPV at 10 PM ET/7 PM PT, with prelims broadcast on Fox Sports 1 at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT.
How do these two stack up?
Davis: 29 years old | 6'2" | 79" reach
Johnson: 30 years old | 6'1" | 78" reach
How have these two done lately?
How did these two get here?
Davis is somewhat overlooked among the list of contenders at 205 lbs. He's the only man to submit Alexander Gustafsson and his only official loss is against Rashad Evans. Since the Evans defeat, in which he admittedly performed poorly, Davis is undefeated in his last 4, including that controversial W over Machida at UFC 163. Davis' bread and butter is his wrestling along with his strong submission game, which he's used against Messrs. Gustafsson, Boetsch, and Wagner Prado. Johnson has been prone to submissions in the past, so the advantage in the grappling department should be all Phil's.
Johnson was cut from the UFC in 2011 following a failed attempt at making middleweight against Vitor Belfort, missing by a dozen pounds. He lost to Belfort in the process via rear-naked choke, but has been a force since then. He's established himself as a regular light heavyweight (aside from a one-off heavyweight win against Andrei Arlovski), and re-joins the UFC on a six-fight winning streak. Rumble recorded two KOs in World Series of Fighting as well as a TKO of former UFC middleweight Jake Rosholt. Johnson has the decided edge in the striking, particularly in speed and power, but it could be all for naught if he can't stop the takedown.
Why should you care?
A win for Johnson would make him an immediate contender in a weak division, and a win for Davis extends his winning streak and keeps his name relevant in the title picture. It's an intriguing fight and a worthy co-main event.