And if they did tell him, rest assured, Machida would tell you that old fighting adage is for the birds.
In front of his hometown faithful, inside a packed HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Machida dominated the former two-time National Champion from Penn State from pillar to post for the majority of the fight, only to suffer a perplexing unanimous decision loss as the scorecards were read.
Round one was all Machida as he peppered Davis with counter jabs and body kicks from the outset. Davis circled to the left, showing some improved striking, but nothing to write home about. Midway through the first frame, Machida scored a slick straight left that drilled Davis on the chin and had him retreating. Machida followed up with a thudding flying knee to the body, as Davis recouped to the center of the Octagon.
It took the former All-American almost four minutes into the round to attempt his first takedown, but when he did it was successful. As the first round came to a close, Davis was in Machida’s half-guard scoring powerful ground and pound.
Round two was more of the same from Machida, as Davis opened with flashy front kicks and uncharacteristic combination punching. It looked good, but the attempts were more or less futile.
Davis shot on Machida and the Brazilian sprawled with precision. The Dragon spent the majority of the round peppering his opponent with well-timed counter punching and textbook defense – something that has become a trademark of the former UFC light heavyweight champion.
With just 15-seconds in the round, Davis managed to walk through a set of Machida punches and latched on to a bodylock takedown, dragging him to the mat, as the bell sounded.
Heading into the final frame, Davis’ corner expressed to their fighter that he was definitively down, and that a finish was most likely the only order for success.
The message was not lost on “Mr. Wonderful” as he came out for the final five minutes with a purpose. Davis used superman punches, front kicks, and everything else he could muster to try and confuse his opponent, but the attempts were rendered moot by Machida’s defense. When Davis attempted to take down the Brazilian, Machida sprawled perfectly, just as he had during the majority of the fight.
The fight ended with Davis eating a counter left, as he rushed in to score a late-round surprise finish. As the bell sounded, Machida raised his hands high to the top of the HSBC Arena in elation, as Davis stood tall, but obviously disappointed.
That disappointment didn’t last long.
As the scorecards read 29-28 on all three cards, the fans in attendance awaited the oh-so-familiar call from UFC Octagon announcer Bruce Buffer.
“And your winner, via unanimous decision… PHIL “MR. WONDERFUL” DAVIS!!!”
Davis, in a truly memorable visual, leaped into his coach’s arms, obviously surprised that victory was now his.
“I’ve been a fan of Machida. I’ve been watching him forever,” said the 28-year-old, as a deafening chorus of boos erupted around him. “This man is awesome. Please don’t boo.”
Admiration aside, the Brazilian crowd wasn’t hearing any explanation – their hometown guy was just robbed of a victory, and they were going to let everybody know it. Even when Davis tried to appeal to their sensibilities and heartstrings with a story about a friend suffering medical troubles back home, they didn’t care. For them, the sting was just too much to handle.
Machida, visibly upset after being the victim of unfavorable judging, unleashed his own venom.
“I really don’t know what the UFC rules are,” he said with disgust. “I don’t know what they are judging. Just listen to the crowd they’ll tell you what’s going on.
“That’s exactly what I tried to do,” said Machida when asked about his counter-based attack. “I don’t know what they were judging.”
In the end Machida landed 27 of 61 of his total strikes thrown according to Fight Metric; Davis 29 of 98. In the significant strikes landed, all of Machida’s strikes were deemed significant, while Davis’s amounted to 21.
The final ground stats read, Davis 2 out of 10 on takedown attempts, Machida was 0 out of 0.
In the end, it came down to what was rewarded. Late-round takedowns with very little damage incurred after or accurate, powerful counter punching.
Let the great MMA debate continue once again.
(Follow @RyanMcKinnell on Twitter)