Phil Davis: ‘I’m Not Going To Rest Until I Get That Belt Back’

After dropping the Bellator light heavyweight title to Ryan Bader at Bellator 180 last July, Phil Davis (18-4 1NC) bounced back into the win column with a dominant victory over Leonardo Leite at Bellator 186. It was a complete performance from “Mr. Wonderful,” who cruised to a unanimous decision win.

Davis, 33, said it felt good to get in there and “sharpen the blade” after losing the title to Bader.

“Sometimes you are competing and you are at a high level and you are not really sure how much better you are,” Davis told FIGHT SPORTS. “You are going against a guy who isn’t that packing you are like, ‘Yeah, I’m head and shoulders better. But when you are getting close to balance is when you can do that to a guy who is really good. I hope that is what we see when I fight Linton [Vassell]. He’s a really good guy and I want to fight above him, head and shoulders.”

The former champion takes on perennial light heavyweight contender Vassell at Bellator 200 at SSE Arena in London, England on Friday, his first ever trip to the U.K. Davis said the first couple of days were “a little rough” due to being jet-lagged and adjusting to the time change, which included a failed attempt at finding breakfast at two o’clock in the afternoon, but he did manage to get in some training and also did some sightseeing. “I’m excited,” he said. “London has been awesome so far.”

He’s looking forward to taking on Vassell, who recently lost to Bader via TKO at Bellator 186 in November. Davis considers “The Swarm,” a U.K. native, to be a formidable challenge.

“I’m feeling great about it,” said Davis. “He’s one of those guys, he’s a good fighter and I know he’ll bring it. He’s a pretty slick Jiu-Jitsu fighter, so we’ve made some arrangements on the ground for him as well.”

The Pennsylvania native’s loss to Bader at Bellator 180 marked his second career loss to the current light heavyweight champion (Davis also lost to Bader at UFC on FOX 14 in 2015), and also the second by split decision. Getting another shot at Bader, Davis said, is crucial.

“It’s important,” Davis said. “It’s definitely important. I’m not going to rest until I get that belt back and he’s not going to rest until he gives it to me.”

Bader, who is next heading into the heavyweight grand prix semi-finals to take on Matt Mitrione, just mowed down Muhammed Lawal via 15-second TKO at Bellator 199. It was a shocking victory, to say the least, and one that no one expected could happen so quickly.

“Yeah, nobody did,” Davis said. “Yeah, well, that’s what happens (laughing). I don’t know what to say. What do you say about a fight that went 15 seconds? Great job. I mean, it’s one of those things like, yeah, he was pretty surprised himself. I don’t want to say you didn’t mean to do that. Yeah, of course, he did. But there is no way he expected to have a 15-second fight. It’s one of those things that happens and you go, ‘That was a great night.’ All the best to him.”

Does he ever watch a fight like that and worry it may one day happen to him?

“Not at all,” said Davis, who has never suffered a submission or knockout loss in his career. “I never see myself as the guy getting knocked out in 15 seconds. I can watch that fight and say, ‘That must be great.’ Because I only think of myself as the guy getting the 15-second win. I don’t go to that dark place.”

With his eyes on another shot at the Bellator lightweight heavyweight strap, Davis will certainly be watching Bader compete in the heavyweight tournament with vested interest. But he doesn’t want to see him lose. In fact, Davis said he wants the fighter who took the title off of him to succeed.

“I want him to do well,” Davis said. “It’s one of those things if you beat me I definitely want you to continue to win. Number one, because it makes me look good, but also (laughing) … It’s just one of those things, I don’t want to look and say, ‘ah I lost to a terrible fighter.’ I lost to some good guys out there. I wish him the best.”

Davis said being a part of the historic Bellator 200 card “means everything” to him.

“Just to be asked to be a part of the Bellator 200 card is a big deal, then, to be here in London, it’s a check off of my bucket list. It’s just a stacked card top to bottom and I’m excited to be a part of it. There are going to be a number of great fights. I’m going to kick it off. I’m going to get it started with a nice fight to remember and hopefully, the main event will have some great fireworks and when you talk about it you will say, ‘what an awesome night of fights.'”

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