EXCLUSIVE | Alexis Davis Wants Title Shot, Says She’ll Capitalize On Ronda Mistakes
Following a dominant unanimous-decision victory over top-ranked fighter Liz Carmouche, UFC women’s bantamweight star Alexis Davis sits amongst the division’s top fighters; and she has her eyes set on the UFC gold for her next fight.
By Christopher Murphy @MurphMMA
UFC women’s bantamweight star Alexis Davis spoke with BJPenn.com Radio last Friday to discuss her rise to the top of the division, a rise that most recently saw Davis defeat Liz Carmouche in a dominant performance at UFC Fight Night 31.
For Davis (15-5) the victory over Carmouche was her fourth consecutive win, the last two of which have come inside the UFC Octagon. Known for her jiu-jitsu skills with 7 submission victories to her record, Davis showcased her Muay Thai abilities by dominating the fight on the feet for all three rounds.
“Yeah, that was a huge win for me,” Davis said of the performance. “I was just – I trained really hard for that fight, you know, I had really good coaches making sure we were studying a lot of her previous fights. That was really the key for that fight for me, because we watched a lot even what she did with her past fight, she came out southpaw, so we had a game plan for everything that she could possibly do. Obviously she could study me and try to throw me for a loop, but it was just good preparation on my part and on my coaches’ part.”
And that preparation could be put to the test as the talk of late has suggested that Davis could be looking to face the winner of the women’s bantamweight title fight at UFC 168 next month.
“Obviously if you ask any fighter in our division they’re going to say this is where they want to be, and they think they should be the rightful [contender]. I’m sure if you cross paths with Sarah McMann or… Sarah Kaufman, everybody wants that shot: that’s what we’re looking for. I feel like I’ve earned it. We’ve all put our time in. What the UFC gives me next, you know, they give me next.”
Until she’s assigned a fight Davis will continue to watch the women’s division and look at every female fighter as a potential opponent. The highest profile women’s fight coming up will be Ronda Rousey’s title defense and rematch with Miesha Tate.
“Who knows what’s going to happen at the Tate-Rousey fight,” Davis said of that bout, “but I’m looking for different positions and different ways to capitalize on both of them.”
But there is no denying that she wants to be the woman to dethrone the current UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey; and Davis believes she has what it takes to do just that.
“Yeah I think she’s definitely going to get in a lot of positions that she hasn’t been in before,” Davis said of a fight against Rousey. “I’m going to be able to capitalize on a lot of things that other fighters kind of had that opportunity but maybe haven’t studied as much jiu-jitsu as I have in the past. We look at all these opportunities of fighters where they have gotten her back [from] her throws, obviously with her judo background. That’s – I hate to say it, but it’s one of my favorite positions to take, I love taking the back position and going for the choke. So obviously [there’s] no doubt in my mind that’s something that I’m looking for. Who knows? Is she going to be able to take me down? There’s obviously a huge chance. No one’s going to deny that she is great at judo – she’s the Olympic champion, you know? So that’s going to be a huge part in her pedigree. But, you know, how much is she going to be willing to expose when she’s going to fight a high-level jiu-jitsu player?”
Davis’ black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu makes her a unique challenge for Ronda Rousey, especially considering the champion’s seven professional fights have all ended with Rousey submitting her opponent in a first-round armbar. It’s a daunting statistic, but Davis credits Rousey’s success to her ability to win the mental edge in a fight rather than her opponents’ lack of jiu-jitsu skills.
“I think it a lot has to do with… she has, and the Diaz brothers always did it well too, a very good mental game,” Davis explains. “And I think she gets in a lot of fighters’ heads where… she just looks at you, and she’s got that stare and she’s very confident in herself; where I think even in a lot of the smack-talk that goes on has a lot to do with getting in other people’s heads. I don’t think as many fighters are – you know what’s coming, we all do it, you overthink it too much: ‘Okay, I gotta do this, this and this. By the time you’re thinking this and this, her part’s already happened.’ Fighters not as familiar with maybe the way – proper defense, if one defense doesn’t work you have to automatically switch off to another one, you can’t always depend on one submission, you can’t always rely on that one defense, you have to be able to move. You can’t try to get out of the armbar, well you can but it’s going to be more of a challence, once the arm is already straight.”
Of course, Davis believes in her ability to out grapple Rousey and put the champion on her back. While Rousey’s grappling skills are impressive (she was the first American woman to medal at the Olympic games), she has not had to do much grappling from her back.
“I don’t want to be almost too overconfident or be too cocky into thinking, ‘Oh, just because we haven’t seen it doesn’t mean she doesn’t have it,’” Davis said. “We’ve seen a bit of it, and you can see a lot of – even when she comes out, automatically she’s looking for that takedown – but she’s charging and what strikes she has, I’ve seen a lot of those too where her chin’s way up in the air, her stance is a little bit off because she’s trying to think of, ‘Ok, this is what I got to do, I got to go for that throw.’ Where, you know, maybe a lot more of us are thinking, ‘We’re starting standing, you know, we’re looking for the strike position to set us up for the takedown,’ where, you know, it’s been working great for her; whereas, even seeing her on her back, obviously she studies some jiu-jitsu and has lots to do with her judo, but how well is she going to be able to maneuver on her back, especially when someone’s punching you in the face. Kind of throws a lot of people off.”
But Davis’ assessment of Rousey doesn’t mean that’s her top pick for her next fight. She says she’ll fight Rousey or her opponent Tate, just as long as she fights the winner.
“I want the winner,” she said. “This is what I feel like – you know, for a long time I’ve been just in that reaching distance and something happens and it just slips out, slips through my fingers. I think I’ve really, especially with my last fight – and that was my 20th fight, you know, I don’t think my record’s too bad and I’ve been able to showcase some skills, and I’ve just improved so much even in the last year with my move to California and training at different camps: I’m ready for it. This is what I want, I want that title shot.
“I don’t care if it’s Ronda, I don’t care if it’s Miesha, that’s what I’m looking for. Will I get it? We’ll have to wait and see. It’s all in what the UFC [wants], you know, what’s best for them or what’s going to be best for the division. Would I take another fight? Obviously; if the UFC offers you a fight, I don’t think anybody that is going to be in that division will be like, ‘No, you know, I’m just going to pass on this.’ I think the UFC sees the potential in me; even with giving me top fighters like Liz – she’s an amazing fighter, she’s one hell of a tough fighter, busting my head open in the second round and she wasn’t going to stop for nothing – and I think, giving me high-quality fighters like that, they see the potential for myself as well.”
Of course, talk of this fight is purely hypothetical. In the UFC women’s bantamweight division, Alexis Davis sits fourth among title contenders behind Sarah McMann, Miesha Tate and Cat Zingano. Zingano, who last fought and defeated Miesha Tate at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale, has already been promised the winner of Tate-Rousey when she returns to action following surgery to repair a torn ligament in her knee. Davis says she’s simply waiting to hear what’s next for her.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen: is she going to be ready?” she asks about Zingano’s first fight back as a title fight. “I hope she’s doing much better, you know, she had to leave for a second procedure, how ready is she going to be? Is she going to be ready for that fight? That’s a lot of pressure to put on after coming off of an injury. We have to see, obviously we all know, we’ve all seen what happens in the past with Dana White: he says one thing and sometimes things change up. It’s all just going to kind of be – we’re all just kind of sitting on the bench kind of waiting to see what happens.”
Despite the wait, one thing is for sure: Alexis Davis is sitting amongst the top female fighters right now. It’s something she credits to her past fights against top names, and it’s something she hopes to only improve as the sport continues to grow.
“When you think of it, it’s a brand new thing, the women’s division. Being able to fight high-quality fighters that I have, not just in the UFC but in my past, I think it really puts me up there especially in the rankings. It gives me a lot more attention, I think, as a fighter. It’s just giving all of us attention as a whole; I think we’re going to get a lot more fighters in this division, you know, and I want to be sitting right there on top.”
Listen to the full interview below: