According to reports late Tuesday night, UFC prospect Phil Davis (9-0, 5-0 UFC) has been forced to withdraw from his UFC 133 headlining light heavyweight bout with Rashad Evans (15-1-1, 10-1-1 UFC) due to a knee injury suffered during training camp. This unfortunate development is just another in an already long list of big-name injury withdrawals within the organization thus far in 2011. Now placed into a tough spot, the UFC must scramble to find a new headliner on short notice for the August 8th event.
Following the intial announcement, several media outlets reported that former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida (17-2, 9-2 UFC) had accepted the bout. As MMA fans remember, "The Dragon" famously handed Evans the only loss of his career on the wings of a brutal, highlight reel knockout at UFC 98.
Thus, the match seemed to be signed, sealed, and ready to go, when Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole reported via Twitter Wednesday morning that UFC President Dana White confirmed that Machida had agreed to the terms. However, less than an hour later, Iole was forced to retract that statement, instead reporting that Machida had not yet agreed to the bout. Around that time, reports from Brazil surfaced claiming that Machida's manager, Ed Soares, had already confirmed that the bout was unlikely.
So now the UFC is back at square one. Without a big name headlining opponent for Rashad Evans, the organization suddenly finds themselves in an incredibly precarious position. UFC 133 was already going to be a relatively tough event to sell to fans due to a lack of star power, and these latest developments only compound the situation.
At this point, if White and UFC matchmaker Joe Silva are unable to find a compelling adversary for Evans on less than a months notice, it is becoming more and more likely that the organization may be forced to remove the 31-year old from the card altogether. Such a move would be a disaster for both the UFC and Evans, who already has had a ridiculously tough road to get where he is now.
"Sugar" was first scheduled to face Shogun Rua for the light heavyweight championship at UFC 128, however a knee injury forced Evans to withdraw his name from the bout. Following recovery, he was set to square off against former friend and training partner Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title at UFC 133, but that also quickly fell through, this time due to an hand injury on Jones' part. From the ashes of that letdown, the Phil Davis fight was born, but now that has fallen through as well.
Throughout this whole ordeal, one thing has been made certain. Evans -- who still has not fought since May 2010 -- has displayed otherworldly patience in dealing with this continuous train of disappointment.