Beat an opponent where he's strongest? Dumb strategy, says UFC 159's Phil Davis


Phil Davis might have said he planned to submit his most recent opponent, Vinny Magalhaes. But if you believe that, then he has some land he’d like to sell you.

“Why would you ever give away your gameplan?” Davis told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie/radio). “It’s silly. A lot of guys kind of give away their game plan when they’re doing these pre-fight interviews.

“Listen, you’re not getting nothing out of me.”

When the two met at this past Saturday’s UFC 159 event after extended sparring sessions in the media, it wasn’t Davis (11-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC) trying to get the fight to the ground, but Magalhaes (10-6 MMA, 1-3 UFC), who hoped to use his strong suit of jiu-jitsu to win the day.

Instead, the Brazilian found himself eating punch after punch as the fight played out over three rounds. In the end, Davis won a unanimous decision for his crisp striking.

Afterward, some fans wondered aloud whether Davis, a former NCAA Division I national champ at Penn State, was afraid of Magalhaes’ ground game and preferred to avoid it altogether. But Davis said that’s an idea only a fan would have.

“They don’t understand the way things are,” he said. “As simple as it gets, it’s a fight, and you’re in a real fight when you’re out there. There’s three areas that are game: There’s striking, wrestling, and there’s grappling or whatever. If I find a weakness, I will beat you there.”

Not every one subscribes to that theory, of course. Light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who headlined UFC 159 at Newark, N.J.’s Prudential Center, said he specifically wanted to beat opponent Chael Sonnen by attacking him at his strongest point, wrestling.

It worked well for “Bones.” The referee saved Sonnen from a serious beating late in the first round as he lay against the cage taking elbows.

Davis, though, said he isn’t the type to want to hurt opponents or prove his dominance through violence. He simply wants to win and move on.

“I don’t need to prove how big of a man I am and fight with some huge ego and try to submit you where you’re strongest just to prove I’m this or that,” he said. “That’s not the way I do things. That’s not the way you win a war. That’s not the way you do anything successfully. Not in competition.”

Now one step closer to competing for the kinds of fights that would put him on the path to meeting Jones, Davis, who this past year was forced to take a six-month layoff due to a knee injury, is confident that he’s taking the right approach to his career.

“It’s just a matter of waiting your turn, and right now, it’s so interesting what might happen in our division if guys start fighting often and Jones is out for a while,” he said. “Hopefully, he comes back pretty soon.”

In the meantime, Davis might get a few jiu-jitsu lessons from Magalhaes, who squashed their beef backstage.

“I definitely want to hit him up and pick his brain,” he said.

For complete coverage of UFC 159, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.

MMAjunkie.com Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at noon ET (9 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, MMAjunkie.com lead staff reporter John Morgan and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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