Having won 6 straight outside of the UFC, Anthony Johnson returned to the promotion no longer struggling to make welterweight, but paving the path for contender status at light heavyweight. Standing in his way was top-5 ranked Phil Davis, a standout national champion wrestler at Penn State and one of the best LHWs in the division. Davis was favored just on his wrestling and submission skills alone, but he would soon find out that it would all be for naught.
Johnson asserted himself as the quicker, faster fighter with the vastly superior striking, tagging Davis repeatedly with right hands and uppercuts. Davis was hurt and forced to retreat at times in the opening round, all whilst completely unable to get Johnson to the ground. Johnson did a magnificent job of pushing the pace and striking both at distance and inside, and his conditioning was on point.
In the end, Davis had all 8 of his takedowns stuffed, he was thoroughly outstruck save for a few right hands over the top and some body kicks, and Johnson just completely outmuscled him and made Davis look anything but a #4 ranked LHW.
Official Result: Anthony Johnson def. Phil Davis via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
What was the high point of the fight?
The 1st round onslaught by Johnson where he tagged Davis hard with an uppercut and had him bloodied was just another fantastic display of striking by "Rumble".
Where do these two go from here?
Davis (12-2, 1 NC) sees a 4 fight unbeaten run snapped, and his chance of competing for a title may have just passed him by. He was dominated throughout and had nothing to offer on the feet once his wrestling was neutralized with ridiculous ease.
Johnson (17-4) was nothing short of sublime. His conditioning, striking, takedown defense, it was all on point and he was thoroughly impressive in dismantling a quality opponent. He's going to be ranked as a top 10 fighter on Monday and is a new contender in the division.
Watch now, later, or never?
Later. It's not a thriller but it was certainly a dominant performance by Johnson that deserves high praise.