EXCLUSIVE (Part 2) | Phil Davis Talks Upcoming Fight With Lyoto Machida, Would Fight Teammate Gustafsson For Title
By Christopher Murphy @MurphMMA
UFC light heavyweight fighter Phil Davis spoke with BJPenn.com Radio Wednesday night, talking about past and upcoming fights for ‘Mr. Wonderful.’
For Davis (11-1), his last appearance in the Octagon was only three months ago, where he defeated jiu jitsu phenom, Vinny Magalhaes, in a unanimous decision victory. Leading up to the fight, both Davis and Magalhaes engaged in a bit of trash-talking. Where that should have made the victory a little more satisfying, Davis seemed more concerned with outside criticism, albeit somewhat hypocritical, before and after the fight with Magalhaes.
“Well, you know, I hate to say this, but sometimes people- it annoys me, because at first there’s like a ton of people saying that I’m running from him, I’m ducking him. I’m like, ‘Dude, I promise you, I will fight you. You need to calm down.’ Then I fight with the guy, I beat him up, and then people are like, ‘Why are you fighting him?! You need to stop fighting people like that!’ And I’m like, ‘What do you want me [to do]?! I cannot win! Where were you people before?’ That was a good fight… it just felt good to go in there and do that, and to know within myself [that] I looked that good without using my best weapon.”
The effort earned Davis a shot at Lyoto Machida, the man who until recently was at the front of the line for a shot at UFC light heavyweight champion, Jon Jones. Two weeks ago, Machida was bypassed by Alexander Gustafsson- who will now fight Jones in September- and the UFC jumped at the chance to have two exciting, top-ranked light heavyweights face off in Machida and Davis.
Davis described his reaction to getting the Machida fight.
“My thoughts on this fight was, ‘Man! I’m so glad I get the opportunity to fight Lyoto Machida.’ I was really bummed out, obviously, after I lost to- what’s his name? Who did I lose to? Rashad Evans, yeah, I lost to Rashad Evans [laughs]. So it just feels good to be back at that level, fighting another former champion. I’m just ready to showcase… show that I deserve to be at the top.
“I really hate to say this,” Davis continued, “but I got to: the pressure is on him, it’s not on me. He’s the guy who’s the number one contender, he’s the guy who must win this fight. I am going to win this fight because he needs to win. If he tries to sit back and relax, the opportunity will not happen for him. He needs to come after me, that’s his best opportunity, to come after me. Sitting back and just waiting for things to happen, that’s just not a winning strategy right now. He thinks he can squeak by with a close decision like he did with Dan Hendo, not that I think I’m better than Dan Hendo, but I’ve already seen that. I’ve seen it cageside, I saw it happen. I’m not going to let that happen again.”
Having mentioned the fight with Rashad Evans, the only loss on Davis’ professional record, ‘Mr. Wonderful’ reflected on the time since that loss and how he was grown as a fighter.
“I spent the last 18 months in the gym. I’ve taken very few breaks and vacations. I’ve just been getting better every single day, and my striking has gotten a lot better, my grappling has gotten tons better, my wrestling is getting so much sharper. Sometimes I get in the gym and say, ‘Man, I really don’t want to fight me. If I had to fight me, I wouldn’t fight me.’”
Davis will be among the crowd in Las Vegas next weekend to watch the highly anticipated fight between all-time great, Anderson Silva, and title challenger, Chris Weidman. Davis, a Division I wrestling champion from Penn State, said that he had to put his money on the wrestler.
“I’m gonna go with my wrestling pride. I’m gonna go with Chris Weidman. I wrestled with the man when he was 14 years old. He looked the same way now, he looks exactly as big. So I’m going with Chris Weidman.”
Davis also gave his prediction on the upcoming light heavyweight title fight between champion Jon Jones and challenger Alexander Gustafsson.
“I’m gonna go with the challenger on that one. I trained him, I know him, I’m putting my money on the challenger.”
The choice is interesting, given the chance that if both Gustafsson and Davis win their respective fights, the Alliance MMA teammates could potentially face each other for the belt. While the teammate issue has created some drama in the past- or in some cases, flat out refusal to fight one another- Davis explained that he and Gustafsson have an understanding that both men want the title.
“Ooh, I wouldn’t say there’s nothing they could do. I’m sure they could make it worth my while [laughs]. Yeah, I’ll fight him. He knows that, it’s not like, ‘You’re screwing me, you’re my training partner.’ No, you know, it’s what we do. We’re out here trying to be the best. Every day we’re in the gym, we’re trying to be the best. No, there’s no hurt feelings there.”
Before any of that goes down, of course, both men have extraordinary challenges ahead of them. Davis will be facing Lyoto Machida at UFC 163 in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Jones and Gustafsson will fight at UFC 165 in September.
Be sure to check out the rest of Phil Davis’ interview, where he talks about the first ever MMA Draft Combine that he and Urijah Faber will be hosting next weekend at the UFC Expo in Las Vegas.