Adaptation is defined by Merriam-Webster as a modification of an organism or its parts that makes it more fit for existence under the conditions of its environment.
Phil Davis found out a lot about adaptation during his fight with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. The former NCAA champion had steam rolled all of his previous opponents in the UFC, but he ran into his toughest test to date on Saturday night in Seattle, and he had to change, modify and fit a new attack to carry him to victory over Nogeuira.
Davis has been called a physical freak and possibly a future contender in the UFC’s light heavyweight division, but taking a fight against a top ten opponent like Nogueira tested the young Pennsylvanian to his core.
A powerful wrestler, Davis simply could not land his double leg on Nogueira during the first five minutes of their fight. Davis tried valiantly, but Nogueira was ready for the attack, and shrugged him off with little struggle.
“I know he’s tough, he’s resilient, he learns, I couldn’t take him down with anything else I saw somebody else doing in the past,” Davis commented about his trouble getting Nogueira down early.
Once he realized his primary takedown wasn’t working, Davis switched things up and decided to go for a single leg instead, which worked effectively for the remainder of the fight. With time ticking away in the 2nd round, Davis was able to take advantage of the bad position he put Nogueira in, and blasted away with punches and some rib shattering knees to his midsection.
Realizing he found a more effective weapon, Davis slipped inside a few more times in the remaining time during the fight to take Nogueira down, using the single leg attack again and again. Davis stayed on top and fought a smart fight to pull out the unanimous decision win.
The win will likely earn Davis a slot among the top ten light heavyweights in the world, but even by his own admission he still has a lot to learn before challenging for a title. For now however, Davis is still a raw piece of clay that’s just begun to be molded into what one day will likely be a champion in the UFC.