It was far from dominating, but fast-rising prospect Phil Davis got what he expected in Saturday's UFC Fight Night 24 main event with veteran light heavyweight Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: a test.
Nogueira initially stuffed all of his opponent's takedown attempts and battered him with counter punches, but Davis ultimately wore down the vet, implemented his wrestling-oriented game plan, and landed some effective ground and pound for a unanimous-decision victory.
The bout, which marked Davis' first UFC headliner, took place at Seattle's KeyArena and aired on Spike TV.
With the quick ascent of newly crowned UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones, the MMA world was quick to anoint Davis, a former NCAA champion at Penn State, his only worthy challenger. But as Nogueira demonstrated (and as Davis freely admits), he's still got work ahead ahead of him before he's ready for a title shot.
In the end, though, Davis walked away from UFC Fight Night 24 with his biggest win yet: a unanimous-decision victory over Nogueira via 30-27 scores on all three judges' cards.
Davis attempted to use body kicks and lunging punches to set up takedowns early in the fight. But Nogueira stuffed every one of them in the first round, even when Davis secured both legs. Nogueira also caught him with a number of counter-punches, which forced Davis to widen the distance in the second round. However, later in the round and throughout the third, he found success with single-leg takedown attempts, avoided his opponent's strong submission game, and unloaded some solid ground and pound with punches, elbows and knees to the body.
Davis, a replacement fighter for injured Tito Ortiz, thanked God for even making it to the fight.
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Main Card (Televised on Spike TV)
-Phil Davis def. Antonio Nogueira via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
-Anthony Johnson def. Dan Hardy via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
-Amir Sadollah def. DaMarques Johnson via submission (strikes) - Round 2, 3:27
-Chan Sung Jung def. Leonard Garcia via submission (twister) - Round 2, 4:59
Preliminary Card (Broadcast via Facebook)
-Mackens Semerzier def. Alex Caceres via submission (rear-naked choke) - Round 1, 3:18
-Mike Russow def. Jon Madsen via TKO (doctor's stoppage) - Round 2, 5:00
-John Hathaway def. Kris McCray via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
-Michael McDonald def. Edwin Figueroa via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
-Christian Morecraft def. Sean McCorkle via technical submission (guillotine choke) - Round 2, 4:10
Preliminary Bouts (Untelevised)
-Aaron Simpson def. Mario Miranda via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
-Johny Hendricks def. T.J. Waldburger via TKO (punches) - Round 1, 1:35.
-Nik Lentz def. Waylon Lowe via submission (guillotine choke) - Round 3, 2:24
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