MMA Analysis: Breaking Down Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis

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Both Rashad Evans and Phil Davis are explosive, athletic and dynamic fighters with excellent wrestling bases and crisp striking. There are stylistic differences however that I believe will favor the more seasoned fighter and former champion Evans.

In terms of pure wrestling, Phil Davis is better than Rashad Evans. Davis was an NCAA Division I All American several years running, and followed up his second place finish (behind fellow wrestler turned MMA fighter Jake Rosholt) with an NCAA first place finish in his senior year.

Davis has lived up to his moniker “Mr. Wonderful”. Against Alexander Gustaffson, Davis was surprisingly unable to secure a takedown for the majority of the first round, but adeptly used a front headlock position to secure a tight anaconda choke and coax the tap-out from the Swede.

Against Tim Boetsch, Davis again showed his versatility, wrenching ‘The Barbarian’s hand behind his back and forced a tap from a one handed submission hold.

In his last outing, Davis continued his unbeaten streak against Brazilian veteran Rogerio Nogueira. Though he was able to land takedowns in the second and third rounds by switching to single leg attempts, Davis was repeatedly stuffed in the first round as he went for power doubles. Rogerio kept Davis at bay with his crisp striking.

Although Davis kept range well with his kicks, showed aggression with his takedown attempts, and did enough to score the round on all three judges’ scorecards, I scored that first round for the Brazilian. In the second and third rounds, Davis finally got the fight to the mat. Though he effectively maintained top control and was never in serious danger of being submitted, he also could not advance his position nor land much effective offense.

He was rightly awarded the victory for his control and general dominance, but the consensus after this fight was that it was an underwhelming performance from the exciting prospect.

Against Evans, Davis has a chance to catapult himself into the MMA spotlight. This fight is a title-eliminator, with the winner getting the somewhat unenviable task of challenging Jon Jones for his Light-heavyweight strap.

Davis has never faced a fighter with the skill set of Rashad Evans, and while he may rise to the occasion, I’ll be banking on the veteran. As mentioned, in pure wrestling, Davis has the edge, but in “MMA wrestling” I would rate their takedown and takedown defence as even (or perhaps even with an edge to Evans).

While Evans is slightly more susceptible to be taken down, he has excellent scrambling ability and will be near impossible to hold down. Should Davis try to take Evans down in the beginning frame of the fight, he will get tired and frustrated.

However, standing in front of Rashad Evans and playing the striking game with “Suga” is not necessarily a wise strategy either. While Davis might in fact be a more well rounded and rangy fighter (with powerful kicks, a reach advantage and good control of distance), Rashad Evans has the edge in agility, speed and power.

Rashad can end Davis’ night with one punch. I have yet to see one punch KO power from Mr. Wonderful. Rashad might also surprise Davis and take him down during an opportune transition. Evans is an excellent MMA wrestler and sets up his shots well with strikes and good level changes.

Toby’s Take: I think this will be a close affair, but I give the edge to Evans to win by decision.

Terrible Toby is a guest contributor to Breakdown Fights and provides a little color commentary to go with our statistical geekery. Oh, and he’s a pretty wicked 155′er too.

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