Phil Davis knows Saturday's UFC 163 win over fellow light-heavyweight contender Lyoto Machida was a controversial one – even if the bout hadn't taken place in his opponent's home country, where Brazilians occasionally are gifted decisions.
So when it comes to the type of close unanimous-decision victory he picked up at Rio de Janeiro's HSBC Arena, Davis said he understands that it may be unpopular with many fans.
"Fighting is an emotional thing," he said after the pay-per-view co-headliner. "If I had lost this fight, I would be like, 'I didn't lose that fight, and they know it.' That's how it is. You put all you have into it. So everyone who was a Lyoto fan, I understand where you're coming from. It's an emotional thing. You're cheering for your guy. He's a Brazilian. I can imagine how that feels. So no, I'm not disrespected."
Davis (12-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) scored a few timely takedowns and avoided most of the karate specialist's substantial strikes. However, most media outlets scored the fight for Machida (19-4 MMA, 11-4 UFC), who earned a 30-27 score on MMAjunkie.com's scorecard.
But if Davis were in Machida's shoes and were on the other side of the 29-28 scores, he also knows he'd have little excuse to complain.
"I know how this works," Davis said. "Anytime it goes to the judges, you forfeit your right to be upset. You've just got to give it to the judges, and whatever they say is what they say."
But how did Davis personally score it?
"Obviously, I think I actually won," he said. "Why wouldn't I think that?"
The former NCAA Division I national wrestling champion, who made a great stride in the division with a win over such a noted striker, still wants to rewatch the fight before he makes an official declaration. After all, he said, his initial view of the bout was much different than the one fans experienced cageside or on television. Sure, he felt he cut off angles well, and against an elusive and hard-to-target opponent like Machida, that's no easy feat.
But he understands if it didn't translate for at-home viewers.
"I have to watch it on TV when I get home," he said. "It's so hard to know which rounds you won when you're watching it first-person. It looks completely different from where you're sitting from where I was. So I don't know. I'll have to go and check it out.
"But the Brazilian crowd, they are loud. It was a really hostile environment. They were cheering loud for Lyoto."
Davis tried to remain upbeat after the fight, even though he knows he's probably persona non grata in the South American country today. Still, he wouldn't mind a return trip to Brazil, where he's 2-0 against Brazilian opponent. Next time, though, he doesn't want to fight a local.
"As for fighting in Rio, it's not a bad place to fight," he said. "But I want to fight an American down here next. No more of this. Come on, guys. Get the crowd on my side."