In Davis/Machida Decision, Judges Got It Right

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While not the main event, the decision in the co-main event of UFC 163 both stole the show and divided opinions.

Most MMA writers — and even UFC president Dana White on Twitter — seemed to have Lyoto Machida winning unanimously, but the judges saw things differently, scoring the bout 29-28 unanimously for Phil Davis Saturday night.


Most of the twitterverse seemed to side with Helwani and White saying Machida was robbed, but not so fast…

After watching the fight two or three times, the fight truly was razor-close; the best way to look at it is to break it down by the UFC’s judging criteria: aggression, octagon control, grappling and striking.


Aggression was about even between Davis and Machida. Both had their moments coming forward.

Machida’s were most notably his first-round flurry and the majority of the third round. Davis didn’t have any big flurries but definitely had his moments when he came forward and pushed the action only to see Machida back away.

When it came to aggression the fight was mostly even.

Octagon Control

Since aggression was mostly even, so was octagon control. Both fighters advanced at times but neither really dominated in the octagon where the fight took place.

When Machida came forward he controlled the octagon, and the same goes for Davis. Neither man controlled the octagon better than the other.


Here is where Machida had an edge. By the end of the fight, Davis was bleeding from the nose and seemed more wary of Machida’s advances. But it wasn’t like Machida was lighting Davis up.

In the first round in particular, when Machida had a flurry of punches that seemed to drop Davis, most of them didn’t land. Watch replays closely if possible.

Most of the punches glance off Davis’ arm as he falls to the canvas and the knee that Machida threw did not really land. Note that Davis falls. He was not dropped by a clean big shot.

It also isn’t as though Machida was lighting Davis up either. Davis did a good job not getting hit by many of Machida’s counterpunches and avoided getting tagged frequently by a superior striker.

The edge goes to Machida, but it is not a decisive edge.


Here is where Davis won the fight.

Davis landed takedowns in the first two rounds and when he did Machida was unable to get up. Machida did a good job defending several takedowns from Davis but when Davis did land them, Machida had nothing to offer the former Nittany Lion.

Finally, Davis very active on top, throwing elbows to Machida’s head, knees and body.

It was Davis’ grappling that was decidedly better than Machida’s and outweighed the two even criteria (aggression and octagon control) and Machida’s less decided advantage in the standup.

So where does that leave us?

The judges got the decision right because Davis had a clear advantage in one category while Machida failed to give a point in the fight in which he clearly was superior.

Now the big question is what is next for Davis? “Mr. Wonderful” has now won his last three fights including beating the No. 1 contender in Machida.

With his wrestling chops and striking that has looked better in every fight does he pose a threat to Jon Jones?

We’ll see what White has to say about it.

Eric Smith is an MMA and fantasy football contributor with Follow him on twitter or @EricSmith_SP or email him at [email protected]

Photo Credit: UFC YouTube