EXCLUSIVE | Phil Davis not bothered by Ryan Bader’s recent success ahead of Bellator 220

The man known as ‘Mr. Wonderful,’ Phil Davis, has been one of the best light heavyweights in the world since he started climbing his way up the UFC ladder from 2010 to 2014.

After going 9-3 (1 NC) inside the Octagon, Davis would find his way to the Bellator cage where he would make his debut in the Bellator 142 one night tournament that saw him submit former champion, Emanuel Newton, before knocking out a fellow former UFC vet in Francis Carmont.

A win over Muhammad ‘King Mo’ Lawal would follow his successful tournament venture before he scored the biggest of his career that came against Liam McGeary where he won the light heavyweight crown. Davis is now set to rematch with McGeary at Bellator 220 this Saturday night and rather than riding into the bout with all the momentum he could have asked for, it’s a bit of the opposite.

Mr. Wonderful’s last bout came in November 2018 when he took on the rising Russian contender, Vadim Nemkov. Unfortunately for Davis, he would suffer a close split decision loss.

“Good fight, I just didn’t finish strong, which is typically the hard part,” Davis recalled the Nemkov fight to BJPenn.com. “I just didn’t get going soon enough and really open up, put the pressure on and was really kind of hesitant, didn’t know a lot about Vadim. So I just kind of wanted to feel him out a little more. And I felt ’em out too much. It was just a slow start for me. But if I could do it again, that’s what I would do different.”

In the meantime, Davis’ old rival of sorts, Ryan Bader has gone onto to become the first ever Bellator two-division champion. An accomplishment that began by dethroning Davis.

Both of Bader’s wins came in what some may call uneventful split decisions, but regardless, they’re still losses on Davis’ record. And with him now on top of two divisions, it just makes the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania native have to work that much harder.

“My career… Completely different from what he’s doing,” Davis clarified. “It doesn’t annoy me at all [that he’s double champ now]. To be successful at something, you have to remove all ill feelings from someone else’s success.

“He beat me and he beat those other guys in that heavyweight tournament. There’s nothing else to say but congratulations. I wasn’t really interested in going into the heavyweight tournament. Not really interested in fighting heavyweight yet. That’s just me. But as far as my division and fighting to be the champion, I’m committed to that. So I have my own frustrations and that’s just all with getting better, performing at the top level and winning.”

As for Davis’ task at hand, that is once again the Brit in McGeary.

After first competing in a five rounder, this time around will be just three which could present some different plans of attack. Either way, the Alliance MMA staple isn’t worried about whatever McGeary may do differently.

“I’m not sure exactly what I expect him to do… Differently per se…” Davis started. “Really, I know what I bring to the table. And I think that’s a better skillset and I think that’s a better package then anything he puts forth and that’s it. I don’t even need to worry about the ‘what ifs,’ what could happen. I already know what I’m capable of doing, I put forth all the effort and I’m ready to show up and put on a good performance.”

This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 4/25/2019