“All things are connected,” Phil Davis opined Wednesday, when asked about former foe Ryan Bader losing the Bellator MMA light heavyweight title last month. “Mr. Wonderful” returns to the cage Friday, against Lyoto Machida.
There’s an argument that Bader’s loss is a plus for Davis (21-5, 1NC), who has twice lost to the now-former Bellator light heavyweight champ. As long as Bader sat atop the 205lb weight class, a third fight seemed unlikely. But with Bader dethroned by Vadim Nemkov at Bellator 244, the division is suddenly wide open.
At the same time, Davis told Cageside Press during this week’s Bellator 245/246 media day, “I’ve got to get through this fight in order to get back to the belt. I’m as motivated for this fight as I am for the next fight, because it’s all connected to where I want to be.”
More connected than just Bader even. Davis lost a close split decision to new champ Nemkov back in 2018 at Bellator 209. That’s a fight he’d certainly like back. But really, noted Davis, the path back to gold is pretty straightforward. “You’ve got to string together a bunch of victories, make a case that you want to be a champion, and that’s the way it works. I’m pumped and I’m motivated,” he exclaimed.
It’s another former foe, Machida, that stands in front of him this weekend. The pair first met in the UFC, back in 2013. Seven full years ago. Davis has evolved as a fighter. He believes “The Dragon” has as well.
“In his last fight versus Chael Sonnen, he showed a little bit more range in terms of techniques than I’ve seen previously,” observed Davis. “He’s always been good with his knees, but he looked pretty athletic, he moved pretty well. He’s definitely an evolved fighter as well.”
We’ll find out which fighter has evolved more come Bellator 245 this Friday night. And should Davis come out with his hand raised, it will be three wins in a row for the Penn State alum. Perhaps that’s enough of a case to earn him another title shot.
Bellator 245 takes place this Friday, September 11 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. The event airs live on Paramount Network.