UFC 172 Fight Breakdown: Phil Davis (-235) vs Anthony Johnson (+195)

rumble-johnson The co-main event of UFC 172 is a three-round light heavyweight bout between Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis and Anthony “Rumble” Johnson. The current betting line for the fight at Several Bookmakers lists Davis as a -235 favorite (bet $235 to win $100) while Johnson is a +195 underdog (bet $100 to win $195). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened up Davis at -190 and Johnson at +150, meaning some action has come in on the favorite Davis. This is a closer fight than the line indicates, and at +195 I’m going with Johnson to win the fight. Here’s why. Davis (12-1, 1 NC) is one of the top-ranked light heavyweights in the world. The 29-year-old has fantastic wrestling, superb athleticism, and is also an improving striker. He is also terrific on the ground with his submissions, and is the only fighter in UFC history to win a fight via the “Mr. Wonderful.” Since making his debut in the UFC in 2010, Davis is 8-1, 1 NC overall with notable wins over Alexander Gutafsson, Lyoto Machida, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Tim Boetsch, Vinny Magalhaes, and Brian Stann, amongst other, although it should be noted the decision win over Machida was highly controversial. Regardless of the Machida fight, that’s an excellent resume for an improving fighter, and it makes Davis a very interesting prospect in the UFC light heavyweight division going forward. The Penn State product has been talking up a storm in the media lately in anticipation of a future fight against divisional champion Jon Jones and it’s possible he isn’t as focused as he should be for this fight with Johnson, which could prove to be a mistake if that’s indeed the case. Still, he has a clear path to victory here should he be able to land the takedown — the only question is, can Johnson stop them? Maybe he can. Johnson (16-4) is making his return to the UFC as a 205er after racking up six straight wins in the World Series of Fighting and Titan FC over fighters such as Mike Kyle, Andrei Arlovski, David Branch, and Jake Rosholt and DJ Linderman. The 30-year-old fought in the Octagon from 2007 to 2012 and racked up a 7-4 record in the promotion while fighting as a welterweight in most of those fights. However, he struggled badly to make weight and even after moving up to 185 to fight Vitor Belfort at UFC 142, he still missed weight and he was cut by UFC president Dana White for his third weight-based infraction. Since leaving the UFC, Johnson made the decision to move up to 205 and he’s looked phenomenal since then with some brutal finishes over some tough fighters. A member of the Blackzilians who is blessed with vicious knockout power and a solid wrestling base, Johnson looks like a new fighter at light heavyweight and the funny thing is, he actually is nearly the same size as Davis, who is one of the bigger 205ers in the division. I have no idea why Johnson ever fought at 170, or how he ever even made that weight, but the light heavyweight version of this fighter looks like an absolute world beater and now, in the prime of his career, he makes his return to the UFC to take on Davis in a fight that could shoot him into the top 10 of the division. Davis is a good wrestler and a winner, but Johnson is underrated in the wrestling department himself and is riding a huge wave of momentum coming into this bout. Although Davis is relentless with his takedown attempts, I think that Johnson can stuff the majority of his shots and keep this fight standing. And on the feet I definitely think he is the superior striker. I could see “Rumble” finishing the fight with either a knockout blow or by decision, but either way I believe he has paths to victory here and think he’s undervalued in the betting line. Davis is a very consistent fighter who is difficult to bet against, but at +195 I do think there’s enough value to pull the trigger on “Rumble” for a small bet. The props on Johnson by decision at +420 and by T/KO at +485 are also tempting, but I could see him winning by either method so can’t go crazy on either. Again, I don’t recommend a huge bet on Johnson here because Davis is definitely a solid fighter, but I think at the line this is clearly a dog or pass situation and I’m taking a shot at the dog.

Written by Adam Martin.

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