Alexis Davis: The Nice and Quiet Contender
As seen on hov-mma by Dwayne Wolff
On Wednesday night UFC Fight Night 31-Fight for the Troops 3 went down at Fort Campbell, Hopkinsville Kentucky. In the co-main event Alexis Davis defeated Liz Carmouche via UD. Immediately after the fight speculation about her fighting for the title started up. Right now it is a matter of seeing what happens in the Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate fight, and how Cat Zingano’s knee responds to her recent surgery. Until then nothing is going to be decided. If Tate wins then you can expect an immediate rematch. If Zingano’s knee is ready she still gets the shot and Sara McMann is also right in the mix when she recovers.
This was an impressive win and it does put Davis in contention. If she is not at the front of the line, she is no more than one more win over another top contender away from it. She does not make a lot of noise with pre-fight talk but she always speaks loudly with her skills inside of the octagon. The things she says there are also more subtle and nuanced, and this fight with Carmouche was a perfect example of her technical abilities. Let’s take a closer look at how she picked Carmouche apart.
‘Davis vs. Carmouche’ Fight Breakdown
The fight started and Carmouche came out in her southpaw stance. Fifteen seconds in and Davis’ first inside leg kick slapped home just above the knee of her opponent. Carmouche let it spin her leg a little then she went right back into her stance. Carmouche circled around and responded with an outside leg kick to Davis’ lead leg.
The kicks are the only strikes they were throwing close to a hundred percent while they were utilizing a lot of fakes and feints. When Carmouche did try to land an overhand right, Davis was ready for it. She caught Carmouche with a perfectly timed jab as Carmouche came in. Moments later Davis ducked under another one. They continue to feint and circle for the thirty seconds and then Carmouche landed another outside leg kick. More feinting and faking and Davis landed a glancing one two combo. Then another outside leg kick from Carmouche and Davis went to counter with another left right combo that did not land solid but stopped the leg kick. Moments later Carmouche threw another outside leg kick and Davis countered with the one two and this time the right landed a little more solidly. She seemed to have a good read on Carmouche, countering the kicks and avoiding the overhand right so far. It was at this point when Davis really started to open up with the inside leg kicks. She landed one with a 1:41 left in the round that had Carmouche shaking it for a moment. Carmouche seemed to be moving a little slower and another one fifteen seconds later landed solid and visibly Carmouche’s movement was affected.
Davis also did a good job of controlling the distance in the round and using it to counter the overhand right of Carmouche. Davis was stepping into it and often throwing a counter at the same time. By stepping towards Carmouche she was moving inside of the power of the looping strike. Davis also seemed to have Carmouche off-balance the whole fight. She also slowed her down by chopping away at the inside of Carmouche’s lead leg. Davis landed one last one at the buzzer. It really was the story of the round as she landed them solidly throughout the second half of the round.
It was a close round and it would be the easiest round to give to Carmouche. She landed several solid leg kicks and a couple of the overhand rights landed, but none of them were clean and they did not do much damage. Davis countered with inside leg kicks and by the end of the round Carmouche’s movement was affected by the kicks. She also landed a couple of solid jabs but did not do any real damage with her hands. I would score the round for Davis.
They came out in the second right away and their punches were crisper with more urgency. The first round was close enough that neither fighter could feel overly comfortable about it. Again in the opening moments Davis is stepping inside of the strikes of Carmouche and countering with her own. Carmouche landed a glancing overhand right as she was circling away from Davis. Carmouche threw an inside leg kick and Davis countered with a one two. Davis was very effective at not letting Carmouche put together many combinations in the fight. Even when Carmouche did land cleanly she was never really able to follow it up.
One minute into the round and Davis started to turn it up. She landed a couple more inside leg kicks and now was following them up with punches. Davis landed a couple of good shots in a flurry. Carmouche came back strong and landed a big right hand then a couple of beats later another nice overhand right. That was quickly countered by two right hooks from Davis. With one of the right hands Carmouche opened up a cut over Davis’ left eye.
Davis came forward and launched another flurry backing Carmouche up against the cage for a moment. Carmouche circled out and threw a body kick, Davis stepped in punching and they clinch up. Davis landed a nice knee and then a right hand on the break. The cut was bleeding but it did not affect Davis. Not once did she even wipe at it. The only effect was Davis now looked like the one-eyed sister version of Johnny Depp’s Sands character from Once Upon a Time in Mexico.
It was another Davis inside leg kick with a little more than three minutes left in the round that caused Carmouche to switch to orthodox stance. Now, Davis started to mix in more punches and throwing them with more authority than in the first round. She was still faking and feinting but now she was also landing more and more. Carmouche switched back to southpaw but now just the hint of inside kick had Carmouche bailing out. Davis was turning Carmouche into more of a defensive fighter, taking away her aggression and power. She did it with the leg kicks, jab, and her control of movement and distance. She moved back at the right times and stepped in at others either negating the power of the strike or avoiding it all together.
At the halfway point of the round Carmouche is still backing away trying to find an opening. She had landed the one shot that opened up the cut and another good right hand in the round, but the rest of it had been Davis who was taking control of this fight. Carmouche threw are looping right that Davis blocked, and followed with a glancing left hand. She grabbed Davis’ neck with it and landed a solid right hand after a momentary clinch. Davis just missed on a counter right hook and then a double jab as Carmouche danced away and to her left. She switched back to orthodox and Davis landed a hard outside leg kick then knocked Carmouche slightly off-balance. Davis then landed several good punches in a flurry.
Carmouche gamely fought back but she was mostly landing single strikes and could not find the range. Meanwhile, like an annoying neighbors yipping dog, Davis continued to drill home that inside leg kick. Again and again, over and over, only it was now being followed by crisp one twos and other combinations. With just under a minute and a half in the round Carmouche switched to orthodox and you could see her fighting the pain on her face. Her movements were becoming more stiff. The inside of the leg is responsible for the upward drive on knees and kicks, in essential to lateral movement, and power shots.
As the round approached the final minute Davis caught a kick and slammed Carmouche audibly to the ground. She followed her to the ground into side control. Carmouche tried to use her knees to gain guard but Davis kept the position and landed several shoulder strikes. Like foot stomps many people dismiss these shoulder strikes as just being annoying, but that is the point, you are in a fight if you can annoy your opponent then do it. Davis moved above her and then started using the shoulder strikes to bounce Carmouche’s head on the mat. Carmouche fought back and landed a couple of knees to the side of Davis, neither had much power behind them. Davis then landed some of her own knees to Carmouche’s body and they did more damage. As the ten second clapper sounded Davis landed several hammer fists to the stomach and shots to the side of the body. Carmouche went to escape and standup, Davis went to take her back and Carmouche drove up and tossed Davis landing inside of Davis’ guard. The round ended as she landed two strikes to the head.
It was an exciting round and Davis clearly won it. Carmouche had her moments but could not sustain any momentum and Davis controlled most of the round and the action. Also, while Davis looked the worse because of the cut over her eye, it was Carmouche’s right leg that had taken the most damage.
They start the final round and Carmouche comes out in a southpaw stance and no less than ten seconds into the round Davis lands another inside leg kick. This one knocked her off-balance and her hands hit the ground. She pushed herself up and Davis came in punching her back against the cage and into a clinch. From there Davis worked her over landing knees to the thighs, body and head. She punctuated the clinch with a nasty right elbow to the head. Then, just when it seemed like Davis was about to dominate, Carmouche comes back with a knee to the body and pushed back Davis against the cage. Davis quickly reversed their position and they exchanged knees but Davis was landing two or three for every one of Carmouche’s.
The referee separated them with a little over three minutes left in the round. At this point it was Davis’ fight and Carmouche was still searching for an opening to get the finish. She was also trying to avoid any more damage to her lead leg and was now lifting it off the ground. This resulted in her throwing several strikes off of one foot and severely limited her chances of landing the right hand and limiting its power. She landed a right hook that barely moved Davis’ head and now was coming in more and more. Out of sheer toughness Carmouche was able to still back away and to the side but she was finding it difficult to sit down on her punches at all.
Carmouche stayed focused and threw a front kick that Davis just turned and let it slide off of her. She countered with a jab and then walked Carmouche down. Davis then went into another inside leg kick and another inside leg kick. Carmouche came back with a right hook that Davis ignored when it landed. She just came forward and locked in another clinch.
As time ticked away Davis stayed locked in. She controlled the distance and was effective at all of the ranges. One of her best combinations all night was the inside leg kick, jab, and straight right. She landed all three inside of the final minute. Davis also used her step-in jab to negate Carmouche’s overhand right. It seemed liked she had a great read on it early, and even when she did not land the jab she at least blocked or slipped the right hand of Carmouche. In the closing seconds of the fight Davis landed another inside leg kick and used it to get another clinch. From there she landed several good knees as Carmouche countered with a couple of punches.
This was a sublimely beautiful performance by Davis and very similar to another Davis, one from the jazz world. It was like Miles Davis’ early “cool” style of jazz that was as much about the note that was not played as the notes you did play. For Alexis Davis she never threw any wild strikes, and was almost always balanced and in position to throw the right strike at the right time. Miles was a huge boxing fan and would have appreciated the subtle beauty, control of movement and use of distance to dictate the rhythm of this fight from this Davis. She controlled the rhythm and kept Carmouche out of step and slightly off-beat all night long.
Since the fight Davis has moved up to number three in the UFC’s rankings behind Cat Zingano and Miesha Tate. That also makes sense for the order of title contenders. This was an impressive win over Carmouche after Davis’ close debut UD win over Rosi Sexton. Davis looked much sharper in this win. Her debut took place in Canada, her home country on the main card of a PPV. She was much more relaxed and comfortable in this fight and showed that she is a threat to the title. In fact she could be the biggest threat to Ronda’s title because of her Japanese jiu-jitsu black belt. That form emphasizes throws more than the Brazilian style and could help her offset Ronda’s judo. She also displayed really strong clinch work and her leg kicks literally chopped away the base of Carmouche. She mixed in crisp punches, excellent footwork, head movement and use of distance to defeat a very tough Liz Carmouche.
Tate gets the next shot at the title and then it depends on how that fight goes and how Zingano heals. If she is not ready to go by the time Ronda is ready than Davis has earned the next shot. Sure, she could take a rematch against Amanda Nunes who had an impressive win of her own on this card when she stopped Germaine de Randamie in the first round via TKO. The only problem is Davis dominated the first fight before earning the second round TKO win. Davis may not be flashy or talk a lot of trash outside of the octagon but when that cage door closes she’s as deserving as any contender in the UFC right now.
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