Phil Davis and Lyoto Machida met for the second time on Saturday, with a lot more on the line than in their first meeting back in 2013. The main event of Bellator 245 was looked at as a potential eliminator, with Vadim Nemkov’s recent win over Ryan Bader having blown the division wide open.
The pair’s first meeting was a close one. Nothing had changed come Friday night in Uncasville, CT.
As always, Machida opened in his karate stance, staying light on his feet, and opting to fire off a kick down the middle early. Davis was forced to hunt him down, and figure out the bizarre angles presented by the Brazilian. Davis would flip the script, going upstairs with a head kick that was partially blocked. He’d also utilize a push kick, which forced Machida to stay at range.
Round two opened with a similar chess match playing out. Davis flashed his jab, but didn’t have his range down. Machida continued to be elusive, circling, looking to pick his spot. The pair traded kicks, but neither fighter was able to put together a combination, at least not that landed. Around the two minute mark, Davis landed a punch that sent Machida scrambling, more off-balance than hurt — but he appeared to roll his ankle a little during the sequence. Davis, meanwhile, was finding success with his kicks. Off an exchange that had Machida retreating, Davis was able to take control of his opponent’s back while standing, but there was no time left in the round in which to work.
The third and final frame saw the pair trading kicks early in the round. Davis had settled in and found a rhythm, relying on his kicks, the odd jab, and forcing Machida to turn up his offense. However as the round wore on, the teep and push kicks that served Davis so well earlier in the bout were nowhere to be found. Both men turned it up in the final minute, but they’d end up going to the judges. Machida may have done enough to take the third, but he didn’t do enough to win the fight, at least not in the eyes of two judges.
It could be Vadim Nemkov next for Davis — we’ll know soon enough.
Official Result: Phil Davis def. Lyoto Machida by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)