Mike “Beast Boy” Davis, 29, has a 9-2 professional record with seven wins by knockout. The six-foot lightweight is 2-1 in the UFC. He lost his debut to welterweight powerhouse Gilbert Burns in 2019. Since then, Davis has won back-to-back fights with one knockout and one decision.
Viacheslav “Slava” Borshchev is a 30-year-old Team Alpha Male product with a 6-2 professional record. He entered the UFC emphatically with a second-round knockout on DWCS in 2021. He followed up his contract-earning performance with a first-round knockout in 2022. Borshchev most recently lost a decision, bringing his UFC record to 1-1.
Davis vs. Borshchev is one of the preliminary fights on this weekend’s UFC Fight Night 211 card. Subscribe to ESPN+ to watch every UFC fight live.
Despite being a new matchup to the card, Davis is only a small favorite over Borshchev.
Davis is a well-rounded fighter and explosive athlete that not only wins fights but wins them impressively. Davis has a jiu-jitsu background but tends to favor his hands in the octagon. He is a sharp striker with good punching power, fast and fluid combinations, and athletic movement. Davis typically approaches fights from a pressure-focused and offensive perspective. He will regularly take the center of the octagon quickly, pressure forward consistently, and mix in punches and kicks in combination. His striking is technically sound, but Davis can be baited into a brawl. In fights where he exchanges blow for blow with an opponent, Davis’ offense looks sharp and he lands heavy; however, he will often ignore defense and get tagged in response.
In his most recent fight, Davis showcased an evolution to his game that many knew he had in his arsenal, but few have consistently seen: offensive wrestling and grappling. Davis, intelligently, mixed in several takedown attempts. His explosive movement and dynamite fists opened up windows for his shots. While he only landed three of his nine attempts and only controlled his opponent for a few seconds at a time, the variety in Davis’ game only made him more dangerous and complex. If Davis can continue to mix in wrestling with his striking, opponents will be forced to preemptively slow takedown attempts by either squaring off their stance, improving balance but limiting movement, or by crashing distance. In either case, a less mobile opponent or an opponent moving linearly plays right into Davis’ combination striking. The primary questions in Davis’ game are his cardio and his striking defense against technicians or willing brawlers. If Davis can manage his output and avoid trading 50/50 in the pocket, Davis could start to realize his potential.
Borshchev is a talented, highly skilled, and dangerous kickboxer. Borshchev is a highly credentialed kickboxer, and his skills were on full display during his debut. When he faces a willing striker, Borshchev predatorily stalks forward and lands a variety of thudding combinations. His natural size, striking acumen, precision, striking variety, and impressive power make Borshchev a fighter who can end a fight in an instant. But, it does not make him a complete mixed martial artist.
Many suspected that Borshchev would struggle when he faces an opponent willing to wrestle; and, while he was taken down and controlled en route to a decision loss last time out, Borshchev did showcase solid defensive grappling fundamentals and natural strength. Still, despite learning and growing as a defensive wrestler at one of the best wrestling gyms in America, Team Alpha Male, Borshchev was inevitably taken down and controlled for much of the fight. This is the book on “Slava.” Opponents can strike with him at their own risk or take him down and grind out a decision. The latter will become more and more challenging as Borshchev rounds out his game.
Davis is a fighter who often does not take the easiest path to victory, instead favoring a fan-friendly style that puts him in risky situations. He has the power to match Borshchev on the feet but not the technique, precision, or defensive movement. Davis needs to check his ego and wrestle his way to a win. If he stands and trades too long, Borshchev can clip him and maybe finish him. With that being said, I like what I saw from Davis last time out and expect a similar game plan. I’ll be holding my breath the whole time, but I like Davis to lace up his wrestling shoes and win a decision.
Pick: Mike Davis to win by decision (-170 odds at BetUS)