Brandon Davis loves to fight, so stepping up on short notice against Steven Peterson at UFC Austin was an easy decision.
It’s also one that looks to be paying off with another high-profile TV spot, this time on the main card. Having been bumped from the Fight Pass Prelims to a sweet spot between Sage Northcutt and Thiago Alves, Brandon Davis is pumped to get back in the octagon at UFC Austin on Sunday.
It’s a chance for the featherweight fighter to get right back to work after coming up short in his debut at UFC 220 last month. At first, it looked as if Davis might be taking some time off. Then, opportunity came knocking.
Davis got the nod when Peterson’s original opponent, Humberto Bandenay, was forced off the card due to VISA issues. “The UFC reached out to my manager” Davis told us, but there was some concern about whether he was ready to go again so soon. ‘Killer B’ had planned to take some time off to spend with family, but he was ready to go. “I got hit 35 times, I felt two of them” he said of his fight with Kyle Bochniak at UFC 220, Davis’ debut with the promotion. And so he told his manager that “‘I’m gonna send you the picture that says the stats, and you send that to Sean Shelby and tell him I’m ready, I dig it.’ I was back to training on Tuesday.”
Getting back in the cage right away gives Davis a chance to get the taste of losing out of his mouth, but it’s more than that. “That’s definitely part of it. The sooner the better” he said, but he also pointed out that he likes to stay active. “Even when I fought outside the UFC, I’d usually fight once a month or every other month.” While hard maintain in the UFC, Davis definitely wanted to hit the cage more often, “so I was trying to get back in there.”
The fight with Bochniak ended with Brandon Davis on the wrong side of a decision. There’s always something to be learned from a loss, and for Davis, it was about the game plan of his opposition. “Oh man, I thought when I got in the UFC, people were actually going to want to fight me, come to fight me.” Instead, what he got was anything but a firefight. “The only way I’ve ever been beaten is people just trying to hold me on the cage or not actually try to stand there” he explained. “Nobody wants to stand and try to trade” he continued, adding “I learned that it doesn’t change at this level.”
Davis knows that grappling, wrestling, and grinding will be part of the game, and moving forward, he knows he will need to make it “more than just kickboxing.” And before the “octagon jitters” angle comes up, forget it. “Everybody says that, I don’t know what people are getting worried about. I’m not fighting all the thousands of people watching. I’m fighting one guy.”
Coming into the fight against Peterson, Davis never even had the chance to get out of fight shape, and that’s a plus. “We went straight back to strength and conditioning” Davis said. “I was only 15 pounds out, which is not that bad from what I usually cut. In the Contender series, I cut 21 pounds in three days. So that’s not a problem”
“I’m still in shape, I didn’t even have enough time to get out of shape.”
“I’ve been continuously training anyway.” The quick turnaround works out great for him, and he added that “to me, if I could do this every time, if I don’t get a concussion or anything like that — I understand the health issues, but I didn’t [get concussed] — I want to fight as soon as I can every time.”
When it comes to the short-notice nature of the fight, Davis feels its a double-edged sword. “He has to do the same thing. He was training for somebody else completely different. So we’re on the same track” said the Alan Belcher MMA fighter. “It’s not like I was out of shape, I was coming off the couch to take the fight and he knew about me weeks before.”
“He got a new opponent too, so he has to worry about that as well.”
As far as his opponent goes, Davis said that “I like his style.”
“If I go in there and lose, it might be the quickest UFC career in history!”
“He comes forward and he fights. He tries to get you to trade.” It’s the type of fight he prefers. “That’s right up my alley. Of course I’m going to be ready if he doesn’t do that, if he does what Kyle [Bochniak] did, I’ve made changes already in my game for that. I’m ready for anything.”
And though Davis admits he didn’t remember who Peterson was when his manager was working on booking the fight, he soon recalled ‘Ocho’s’ Contender Series bout. “I remember watching the Benito [Lopez] fight, I thought it was a close fight.”
Peterson’s coming up from 135lbs for this featherweight bout, and that could give Davis an edge. “Kyle was a lot bigger than me, and he couldn’t do anything with me. I’m really strong for my size” said Davis. “If [Peterson] wants to try to take me down or keep me on the cage, I don’t feel like he’s going to be strong enough to keep me there.”
Davis knows this is a crucial fight, but he’s confident going into it. Though he joked that “If I go in there and lose, it might be the quickest UFC career in history!” losing is not on his mind. “I don’t think I’m going to lose. I think [Peterson] is a good fighter, but I don’t think he’s good enough.”
What Davis foresees happening in the bout is his opponent playing to his strengths. “I don’t think he’s big enough and strong enough, and he likes to come forward. So if he fights like he always fights, he’s getting knocked out.”
Just prior to our conversation with Brandon Davis, news broke that the fight was being moved to the main card — in a slot that couldn’t be better. “I was telling someone the other day, ‘man after that loss, they put me so far down'” Davis told us. Then came the promotion to Fox Sports 1. “I found out this morning, I was like ‘Hell yeah, fighting after Sage Northcutt, before Thiago Alves? Man, that’s a step up!’ I’ve been smiling all day since.”
Catch Brandon Davis vs. Steven Peterson live and free on Fox Sports 1 (TSN 2 in Canada) as part of UFC Fight Night 126 in Austin, TX this Sunday, February 18.