RIO DE JANEIRO – Phil Davis’ best shot against Lyoto Machida probably came via takedowns. He got a pair at the ends of the first and second rounds, and that may have been enough to tip the scales in his favor.

Machida stuffed many of Davis’ takedowns – with the exception of the two that came late in the first and second. But it wasn’t enough to get the judges’ nod in his home country as Davis took the upset with a trio of 29-28 scores.

The light heavyweight bout co-headlined today’s UFC 163 event at Rio de Janeiro’s HSBC Arena. It aired as part of the pay-per-view main card following prelims on FX and Facebook.

Davis kicked to the body 15 seconds into the fight and followed it up with one to Machida’s outside leg. After a fourth Davis kick, Machida fired back with one of his own. Machida kept the center of the octagon, keeping Davis on the outside circling to his left away from Machida’s left-handed power. Machida tried to kick high, but it was blocked by Davis near the fence.

Davis landed a good kick to the body, but Machida answered with a kick, then a combination that included several hard punches and a flying knee. The exchange took Davis off his feet. But when he was back up, he went for his first takedown of the fight and got it. With 40 seconds left in the round, Davis looked for a kimura out of half-guard, but instead settled for a few punches and elbows up top.

In the second, Machida snapped off a high kick that Davis mostly blocked. Davis tried a few more kicks of his own, then a Superman punch. Davis got more active with under two minutes left in the frame, shooting for a takedown that was stuffed with 80 seconds left. Machida landed a straight left when Davis kicked forward, Then with 25 seconds left, Machida landed a good punch as Davis came forward and got a takedown. That takedown led to a strong final 20 seconds – but again he went to his corner wondering if he had done enough to take the round late.

Davis’ pace picked up in a major way in the final round. But with three minutes left, Davis came forward and Machida countered with a knee. Machida briefly had Davis’ back, but Davis was able to break free. But that’s when Machida started to pick up his pace. He stuffed several more Davis takedown attempts, and probably thought he had done enough to win – perhaps even all three rounds.

But when the scores were read off, it was Davis getting two of the three rounds from all three judges, much to the dismay of the Brazilian fans, who were seeing Machida fight in his home country for the first time in the UFC and just third time overall.

Many believed Machida with a win would become next in line for the light heavyweight title. He goes back in the pack now and Davis with the most significant win of his career – and in a hostile environment where non-Brazilians seldom have success – may have a case for a title shot.

“I’ve been a fan of Lyoto Machida since I started in the UFC. This man is awesome,” Davis said through a massive chorus of Brazilian boos. “The late takedowns definitely helped. It’s just part of what I do.”

“I don’t know what they’re judging – just listen to the crowd and they’ll tell you what happened,” Machida said. “(My corner) told me to go in hard, and that’s what I tried to do. I don’t know what happened.”

Davis (12-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC), who is ranked No. 4 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/ MMA light heavyweight rankings, won for the third straight time following wins over Wagner Prado and Vinny Magalhaes. Machida (19-4 MMA, 11-4 UFC), who is ranked No. 2, had his two-fight win streak over Ryan Bader and Dan Henderson snapped with the loss.

Up-to-the-minute UFC 163 results include:

For more on UFC 163, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.

John Morgan contributed to this report on-site in Rio de Janeiro.

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