Article by Steven Marrocco
Wagner Prado (8-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) is resume tinsel to Phil Davis (9-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC).
You can look at it like that. Davis no longer feels pressure after his first professional loss. That’s one way to put it. Davis, though, doesn’t.
The 27-year-old thinks it’s only right he should welcome Prado into the octagon at UFC on FOX 4. Someone else did the same for him.
As for pressure, that simply never ends.
“I remember what it was like fighting Brian Stann (at UFC 109), and thinking I was going to get a guy that was pretty good, not really somebody I’ve heard of that was a big name,” Davis told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio). “I was already a big fan of Brian Stann. He took the fight, and I respect that about him.”
Davis’ original opponent, Chad Griggs, had octagon experience under this belt and a trio of performances in Strikeforce. Prado has neither. The Brazilian has seven knockouts in eight showings and no losses, sure, but it’s against untested competition. He could shine and steal Davis’ thunder in the UFC, or be fodder for the highlight reel.
Davis is aware of all this, and he chooses to believe that he stands to benefit whether Prado is a known commodity or not. And besides, the check will clear either way.
“When you have a great performance, that moves you up the ladder,” he said. “It really doesn’t matter who it is. Money is money.”
Davis vs. Prado serves on the preliminary card of UFC on FOX 4, which airs live on FUEL TV in advance of main-card fights on FOX. The event takes place Aug. 4 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Davis, a decorated collegiate wrestler and NCAA Division I national champion, always has been easygoing and unassuming, but perhaps he’s more so after meeting Rashad Evans at UFC on FOX 2. He went into the bout with all the confidence a young, undefeated fighter can have, and he left with the first blemish on his resume. It was a lopsided decision: In five plodding rounds, he won none. Evans got a long-awaited title shot against current champ Jon Jones, and Davis went back to the drawing board. But the trip to that board netted some positives.
“It was a great measuring stick for me,” Davis said. “I lost, but I didn’t get beat down. I’ve seen some guys come out bloody, all beat down. Luckily, that wasn’t my night. I got beat to the punch, figuratively and literally, every time. But I didn’t get beat down. To me, that says, if the No. 2 guy in the world can beat me, but not beat the hell out of me, cool. That’s good.
“I’m still a young guy in this game. I know where I’m at, and in a couple of years, that won’t happen. I went into it thinking I was going to win. But I didn’t. What are you going to do?”
The way Davis sees it, Evans, who publicly toyed with the idea of fighting middleweight champ Anderson Silva after this past Saturday’s UFC 148 win, is one of the most experienced fighters in the game. Once he has that kind of time in the cage, he’ll be able to resume his climb up the heavyweight ladder, where Jones still looms at the top.
Indeed, the only way to move forward is to look on the bright side. That’s why you won’t hear Davis complaining about Prado.
“When I have as much time in as [Evans], I’ll be amazing,” Davis said. “I don’t think it will take me a couple of years to be in those bigger fights.”