Bellator 276’s Phil Davis Focused on Preserving Legacy, Having As Much Fun As Possible

Phil Davis Bellator MMA
Phil Davis vs. Yoel Romero, Bellator 266 Credit: Bellator MMA

Phil Davis returns to action at Bellator 276 this weekend, and if there was any question as to whether opponent Julius Anglickas was a credible title challenger, “Mr. Wonderful” put that to rest in a recent interview with Cageside Press.

“Absolutely. It’s not about how you get your chance. You get your chance. I think he had a great showing,” Davis said, asked about Anglickas’ title shot last year, which came as an alternate in the ongoing light heavyweight grand prix. “Came up short, but tough fight against a tough fighter. Nothing to take away from that.”

The match-up in St. Louis this Saturday has the full attention of Davis, and it’s one he likes a lot. “He’s an all-around very tough opponent. He’s tough, he’s young, he’s strong,” Davis said when asked about what Anglickas brings to the table. “I like this fight. It’s a very motivated guy coming in, who definitely wants to take down a big-name opponent. I love it.”

In his last outing, Davis got back in the win column, spoiling the promotional debut of Yoel Romero. A second straight win could leave him very close to another crack at gold. But it’s hard for Davis to look too far ahead at this point, especially with his title hopes dependant on the outcome of Vadim Nemkov vs. Corey Anderson.

“That fight can go so many different ways. I don’t like to script things, MMA is crazy. I just like to sit back and concentrate on what I can control, and that just isn’t one of them.” Although, added Davis, “I am anxious to see that fight play out. I’m sure it’s going to be a great one.”

Instead of worrying about title shots and things outside of his control, what Phil Davis is focused on in his career at present is “preserving my legacy, and having as much fun as in the sport as I can,” he told us. “Showcasing what I can do.”

Having fun, in fact, would be the advice “Mr. Wonderful” would give to his younger self, if he had the opportunity. “Honestly it would just be to have fun. Don’t be in a hurry to do this or do that, just have fun with the entire process. Fighting, competing, it’s truly a gift, and it’s a lot of fun.”

Most importantly, Davis is still having fun fighting in 2022, where he plans to take things “one fight at a time.” And while contemporary Ryan Bader has found success at heavyweight late in his career, Davis expects to remain at 205 pounds. Mostly.

“Given the right match-up, I’d entertain it,” he said of a potential heavyweight move. Asked if another fight with Bader might just be the right match-up, Davis had high praise for his former foe.

“He’s on a tear. I’ve got nothing to take away from his performance at heavyweight. Every time I see him fight at heavyweight, I’m like ‘golly, he’s a really great fighter.’ It’s weird when you match up with a guy— I don’t always take the time to appreciate how great of a fighter he is. He is a very, very good, impressive guy at heavyweight, and at light heavyweight.”

Directly ahead, however, remains Anglickas, who will be the home town hero in St. Louis. That can be both a curse, and a blessing thanks to outside distractions, Davis agreed.

“It definitely can be. I don’t know how much it will be. I think the biggest thing is, when you reach a certain level, you’re able to mitigate some of those distractions,” he noted. “So we’ll see.”

The crowd being present, “it works both ways,” he added. “There’s times when I feel like the fans definitely add a great element to the fight, and there’s times where, when we were fighting during COVID, it’s not that I didn’t notice that the fans weren’t there— there were other things. I could hear my corner and the other corner so clearly, it was very interesting. Very, very interesting. That’s not entirely a bad thing either.”

Fighting during COVID has become an era unto itself in the sport of mixed martial arts, with the world more volatile than it has been for what seems like decades. Davis had his own take on some of the outside distractions and disagreements that seem to permeate society these days.

“I think through 2022 more so than ever before, people have learned that we’re all very different and our views are all very different, and a lot of times, I like it better if I don’t know everything that’s inside of your head,” Davis stated. “Everyone I know has had someone they’re like ‘you know what, I’m not following them anymore.’ It’s crazy that people can feel so strongly on events they weren’t involved in. People are leaving friendships with people that they know in real life over posts and comments that were made on social media, that is not at all real life.”

Phil Davis returns to action this Saturday, March 12, 2022 at the Family Arena in St. Louis, MO. The main card airs live on Showtime in the U.S., following prelims available right here on Cageside Press.