Exclusive: Phil Davis Talks About Fighting Forrest Griffin and Dominick Cruz
To read part one of our interview with Phil Davis click here:
Phil Davis has one of the best personalities in all of mixed martial arts. He has a great sense of humor, an infectious laugh and definitely knows how to have a good time. The Penn State University graduate spent time on the collegiate mats with guys like Cain Velasquez, Dominck Cruz and Jon Jones, all of whom are current or former UFC champions.
He amassed a record of 116-15 while competing as an amateur and that success has certainly translated to his professional MMA career. Davis has a record of 10-1 with two wins by knockout and four by submission. With wins over fighters like Brian Stann, Alexander Gustafsson, Tim Boetsch and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, he is one of the top contenders in a stacked UFC light heavyweight division.
Before we got to anything MMA related we asked Davis about a picture The Alliance Training Center had taken of him holding a bunch of toys and wearing a Santa hat. The project was something spearheaded by a member of the gym and is just another instance of these great athletes doing what they can to help those who are less fortunate than they are.
“My teammate was heading up a toy drive for active duty military children,” Davis told BJPenn.Com Radio. “Not everyone has a great home so we were donating toys to kids in need. Danny’s a great coach and he coaches our kids program here at Alliance. He’s been great, he’s helping out the community and we all stand behind him. Anytime we get a chance to help out we do, sometimes I get a little wary and we want to make sure we’re dealing with the right people. When we did this I knew it was going to good families with good kids.”
Up until a few weeks ago Davis was preparing to face former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion and fellow Team Zinkin member Forrest Griffin. The two were scheduled to square off tonight in Las Vegas on the main card of UFC 155, but a knee injury knocked Griffin out and the UFC decided to pull Davis from the card altogether.
“Some names were thrown around, but unfortunately no one was able to commit to the 155 card,” said Davis. “That timetable kind of worked out well for me just because it would have been three fights back to back to back. I fought on August 4th against Wagner Prado and had a ten week camp for that fight. Unfortunately I poked him in the eye, so it was only fitting that we had a rematch, so I fought him again in Brazil. I pretty much was right back in the gym preparing that fight and literally as I was walking off the plane from Brazil I turned my phone on. I had a weeks worth of text messages and one of them was asking me to fight Griffin.
“I immediately went back into camp and it’s hard three weeks out to stop training, commit to another fight and go back into another 8 week training camp. When you train with top level guys and you have a real training camp it just wears on your body to be in camp for an excess of 20 weeks. It’s a grind, it would’ve been four fights, four training camps and it would’ve been just a little bit too much. I’m waiting until March or April and then I’ll jump back at it.”
While no opponents have been mentioned for his return, Davis is still very much interested in the Griffin fight. He explained that it’s not due to animosity or a plan to use Griffin as a stepping stone. It’s just a fight against a tough guy who Davis has a lot of respect for.
“I was excited to fight Forrest because he’s somebody I watched as a fan before I ever considered the idea of becoming a fighter myself,” Davis explained. “To be in a situation where I could fight someone that I was a fan of it was a great opportunity. For that reason I hope I still get to fight him, but I know the injury game better than anybody. It sucks and there’s nothing you can do about it, but heal up and get better. I hope I can fight him before he steps away from the game, but we’ll see what happens.”
Speaking of injuries we turned our attention to one of Davis’ teammates at Alliance, UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz. After undergoing knee surgery in May to repair a damaged ACL , the 27-year-old Cruz was rehabbing and suffered an unfortunate setback. Cruz was forced to undergo a second surgery a few weeks ago and the timetable for his return is not known just yet. Davis admires his teammates courage and resolve and is looking forward to his return.
“He’s doing well, it’s one of those things where you don’t want to ask him right away how he’s doing,” said Mr. Wonderful. “You know how he’s doing, he’s not doing good! He’s upset, he’s angry, but he and I just spoke not too long ago. He needs some time to deal with it, a lot of people call right away when you’re injured and sometimes those phone calls can be a little bit monotonous. I waited a couple of weeks to talk to him and after speaking with him I found out he’s doing great. It’s a lot for anybody to handle, but I guess it’s the champion in him because he deals with it well.”