Is Davis 'just the next one' for Rousey?
There is no easy way to say this: Davis (16-5) will attempt to do the seemingly impossible at UFC 175 on Saturday in Las Vegas -- that is, defeat UFC female bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey in a cage fight.
There is no blueprint on how to do it. Not even close. Rousey, a former U.S. Olympian in judo, has devoured every opponent put in front of her in mixed martial arts. Surviving one round against her infamous armbar has become an accomplishment in and of itself.
There are, however, blueprints for Davis on how to win a fight no one thinks is winnable. Her adopted teammate, TJ Dillashaw, actually just drew one at UFC 173 on May 24.
As many will recall, Dillashaw put a whooping on Renan Barao that night, eventually claiming the UFC bantamweight championship via TKO in the fifth round. The performance was immediately hailed as one of the greatest upsets in UFC history.
Davis, who shared a training room with Dillashaw at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento for large portions of this camp, had a front-row seat at that event.
To be clear, she always believed she could beat Rousey -- but watching Dillashaw dominate a heavily favored opponent was reassuring.
When preparing to shock the world, it's nice to be reminded that shocking the world is indeed possible to begin with.
"The fight itself was kind of the same scenario as mine," Davis said. "Nobody thought TJ was going to win. Watching that, you kind of feel the anxiety before the fight and then he was doing so well and then came away with the win -- it kind of shoots right through you -- the adrenaline that comes with all that.
"I remember talking to him after and he gave me great advice. He said, 'Nobody thought I was going to win so I just said I was going to enjoy myself. The press, media and then just have fun when I fight.' It was great for me to hear that."
I remember talking to [TJ Dillashaw] after and he gave me great advice. He said, 'Nobody thought I was going to win so I just said I was going to enjoy myself. The press, media and then just have fun when I fight.' It was great for me to hear that."
-- Alexis Davis, on taking a positive approach to her upcoming fight against heavy favorite Ronda Rousey
It's impossible not to know where you stand when facing Rousey.
Davis is embedded right now in the Rousey Effect. It's inevitable. Certain things happen to you when you fight one of the most recognizable faces on the UFC roster.
An Ontario, Canada, native, Davis says her number of Twitter followers has exploded since the fight was announced. Fans want to take photos with her. Media want to hear from her.
The final stages of the Rousey Effect, however, can look like the opposite of that. Just as suddenly as everyone cared, they don't anymore. Expectations are that, by Sunday morning, Davis will be recycled back into the women's 135-pound division.
Maybe -- some day long from now -- she'll resurface and we can ask her what it was like the day she lost to Ronda Rousey.
Even Rousey (9-0) occasionally lets it slip that is just the way it is. She swears to never take an opponent lightly (and to her credit, she hasn't thus far) but she's aware of the situation. She summarized it rather well in a recent UFC promo.
"Alexis Davis is just the next one," Rousey said.
And in so many ways, Davis does look the part of "just the next one."
She doesn't look necessarily uncomfortable under the spotlight, but admits that during a news conference held on Memorial Day weekend in Las Vegas, she continually reminded herself to, "not say anything stupid."
That same day, she made the rookie mistake of not wearing high heels. In stare-down photos taken on stage, she appeared half a foot shorter than Rousey.
"I do really wish I would have worn heels," Davis said.
In other ways, though, Davis has reason to believe she's more than just an inevitable footnote to Rousey's greatness.
As you are certain to hear again before the fight starts, Davis is a black belt in both Brazilian and Japanese jiu-jitsu, which makes her more familiar with Rousey's judo than many previous opponents.
"Every single day I visualize the fight," Davis said. "Every single time I get my hand raised. One moment, it's a first-round knockout. Then a submission. Then it goes all the way to the fifth round and it's an all-out war. I always see myself on top."
Not too many share Davis' vision of the fight. Almost none, actually.
But as Dillashaw proved six weeks ago in a building across the street from where Davis and Rousey will meet, sometimes it only takes the belief of one to get it done.