Bellator 229: Joey Davis No Stranger to Success, or the Pressure That Comes With It

Joey Davis
Joey Davis Credit: Bellator MMA

Undefeated Team Bodyshop prospect Joey Davis is in action Friday night at Bellator 229. He’s one to watch on the Bellator roster, a 5-0 welterweight who has many, many paths to victory.

Bellator 229’s Joey Davis has been bred for success it seems, but don’t let it fool you: it’s drive and determination that got him to where he is today. The talented athlete was a multi-sport competitor in the past, and it was football, not MMA, that originally had him enthralled.

“My dream was to play in the NFL,” Davis told Cageside Press recently. At least that was the case in high school. A couple of injuries later, and after falling in love with wrestling, the career path had changed.

“Football was something I always saw myself doing, but wrestling was something I couldn’t give up. I loved the competition, I loved the competitiveness. It was something that I was like, ‘damn, this is just a different atmosphere.'”

The Compton, California native wound up attending the Notre Dame College of Ohio in Cleveland, where his talents on the mat stood out. Davis would become the first undefeated four-time NCAA Division II champion. That’s when you knew Davis was something special.

After going all the way in his junior year, and each year after that, all of a sudden, Joey Davis found himself in the final wrestling match of his career. It dawned on him heading into it what the stakes were.

“I had a lot of fans there to see me, a lot of people wanted to see me win, a lot of people wanted to see me lose,” he recalled. “There was a lot of attention on me.”

“I realized that if I just lose one match, I’ll be an average three-time national champ. There’s a lot of people who were three-time national champs, I don’t know about being undefeated. Maybe they could have went undefeated, I don’t know.” But he wouldn’t have been a four time champ.

So, his thinking continued, “I can just win this match and I can be the first person ever, with a victory, to win four titles and go undefeated.”

That’s when the nerves really hit. Davis recalled needing to take a moment, rushing to the bathroom, just before his final match. Still, he persevered. Undefeated. 133-0.

Just like he’s been in the cage so far. And while he’s unlikely to ever have 133 fights, he’s off to a good start.

When he returns Friday, he’ll be on the preliminary card of Bellator 229, taking on the lesser known Jeff Peterson. At 10-6, Peterson will have the experience edge. But Davis is talented in all areas inside the cage, just as he is outside it (look no further than his autobiography From Compton to Cleveland, co-written with Edward Gallo). He’ll have the edge there, having finished with kicks, with ground and pound, and of course, with his wrestling background, being capable of going the distance.

It’s important for Davis to have those options. To be more than “just” a wrestler. After all, look no further than coach Antonio McKee, and training partner/friend A.J. McKee. “They’re father and son, but they’re totally different fighters,” he pointed out.

We’ll see how much more Davis — who fought infrequently while finishing up college — has improved when he returns this Friday, October 4 at Bellator 229. But rest assured, the 25-year old is one of the top prospects out there at the moment.


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