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Phil Davis is Excited to introduce himself to Bellator Fans in Historic One Night Tournament

Brice Schroeder

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Phil Davis is a consensus top 10 light heavy-weight in the world according to the MMA media and is about to make his promotional debut with Bellator this Saturday night in very unusual fashion.  He will be taking part in a historic one night tournament featuring 4 of the best 205 pound fighters Bellator has to offer.  I had the opportunity to speak to Phil Davis, where he touched on a wide variety of topics starting with how his training has been going and what he does to round out the end of his camp.

“Oh it’s going good man, it’s going great.  This is for sure one of those fights were you want to get to the fight feeling good and you want to go in as healthy as possible.  I feel like we are doing a good job of that.  I have a great team around me to prepare for this one.  As far as finishing my camp, it’s all about sharpening your tools a making sure you are a 100% dialed in.  It is a lot of repetition and drilling.”

Not many fighters can say they have fought for the top two mixed martial arts promotions in the world, but Phil will be doing just that when he makes his Bellator debut on Saturday.  He touched on how excited he was to do just that.

“I’m super excited!  Just being in a new promotion alone doesn’t get you fired up, it’s this event.  It’s like, knock your socks off awesome.  Bellator, Scott Coker, and all the guys at Viacom have completely raised the bar with this event and I can’t wait to take part in it.  I can’t wait to finish my fights just so I can just look around.  There are going to be so many great fighters there, I don’t know if I’ve ever been around that many fighters at one event before.”

Not only is Davis making his Bellator debut, he is doing so in the first ever Bellator one night tournament.  I asked Phil if there was any hesitation on his part to participate in such a grueling event.

“I didn’t give much thought to it, I was an emphatic yes.  I’m all in, but I’m one of those people when the next day rolled around I was like oh Jesus what did I just say yes to?  Maybe I should hear more about this thing, but I am all in and can’t wait.”

Phil drew former Bellator champ Manuel Newton in his first round matchup of the tournament.  He spoke on what Newton brings to the table and how Phil plans to combat those skills,

“The biggest thing is he is very unpredictable and moves very light on his feet.  You just have to be patient.  You don’t have to go in and chase him around the cage or do something big and crazy.  Just stay at home and stay focus and concentrate on your techniques.”

Being the betting favorite and the new guy from the UFC can bring a lot of added pressure to a fighter.  None of that seems to bother Phil all that much though.

“Anytime I go against somebody It is not a matter of look what I have to lose, it’s look what I have to gain.  I don’t feel the pressure of being the favorite or this and that and fighting in a new promotion or any of that.  Man I’m just excited to introduce myself to Bellator fans and do so in exciting fashion and really draw people into the sport of mixed martial arts and my new home on Spike.”

Preparing to fight two fights in a single night can be hard to fathom.  When I brought the subject up to Phil he echoed those same thoughts.

“Aw man I don’t even know.  I think you just get into a car accident and then 10 minutes later you just do it again and see how you feel.  That’s the best answer I can give you.  I mean it’s so hard to prepare for one fight, it’s the hardest thing I ever have to do, but doing it twice in one night? I mean come-on you don’t prepare for two fights in a night.  You just train for one fight and after you get your hand raised you just tough it out and do it again.  I really can’t say what to do to simulate two fights in one night.”

The other semifinal bout features Muhammed Lawal and Linton Vassell.  I asked Phil to pick the fight and who he would prefer to fight out of the two.

“Whoever is going to win that fight is completely up to those guys and I have no idea who is going to win.  I don’t know what kind of fighters are going to show up.  I just know they will duke it out to face me.  I don’t care who it is.”

Phil also touched on his new boss, Bellator president Scot Coker, and what his first impressions of him were including comparing him to a certain championship winning football coach.

“Scott called me when I signed and gave me his number and told me to call him I ever needed anything or had to reach him for any reason.  I like him a lot.  I can’t say anything bad about him.  I like the way he runs his promotion.  I keep comparing him to Bill Belichick because players love to play for coach Belichick and fighters love to fight for Scott Coker.  He is just one of those guys when you fight for him he takes care of you.”

Don’t worry fight fans, a new promotion doesn’t mean a new look for “Mr. Wonderful.”  He fully intends to continue rocking his signature pink shorts.

“How could I do away with the pink shorts?  I mean it’s one of those things I’m not sure I could do away with if I wanted to.  It’s part of me and it’s part of my persona.  Don’t worry it’s here to stay.”

At the end of our talk Phil took the opportunity to sell each and every one of you on this big event he will be taking part of.

This is going to be on the best events of the year that people will be talking about for a while.  Make sure you check it out on Spike T.V. and if you have the money, go buy a ticket and make the trip to come check us out live.  It’s going to be like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

You can catch Phil and all the other Bellator competitors this Saturday, September 19th.  The prelims will be aired on Bellator.com at 6:30p.m. ET while the main card kicks off on Spike TV at 9p.m. ET.  The card is headlined by current Bellator light heavy-weight champion, Liam McGeary who squares off against one of the most well known fighters in the sports history, Tito Ortiz.

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Douglas Lima found out about change to co-main event at Bellator 192 from the internet

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Bellator 192 fight card has gone through a shake-up over the past week. Bellator president Scott Coker revealed last week that the scheduled welterweight title fight between Rory MacDonald and champion Douglas Lima will now be serving as the co-main event and the heavyweight matchup between Chael Sonnen and Rampage Jackson would instead take top billing. At the time no explanation was made for the change. Monday Douglas Lima was a guest on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani to discuss this change.

“I was little bummed, but it is what it is, it’s business you know. I was pretty excited you know? Being the main event, having Rampage fight as the co-main event, I was happy there. Then I was bummed out that they changed it back to the co-main event. It’s not going to change a thing for me, I’m just focusing on the fight.”

Lima has been notoriously looked over in the eyes of fight fans. A longtime member of Bellator and a two-time champion has not gotten the notice he deserves and hopes to get.

“I found out through the internet, nobody tells me anything, I didn’t know. the same thing happened in New York, I thought my fight would be before the two main events there, but it ended up being the first fight of the night on Pay-Per-View. Hopefully, it doesn’t take anything away from the fight, you know spotlight and stuff.”

Lima is looking to make all the naysayers take notice at Bellator 192 that takes place at The Forum in Inglewood, Califonia on January 20th.

“This is the fight I’ve been waiting for for a long time. To get my name out there, to get people to know who I am. I’ve been delivering a lot of good fights, fights fans like to watch but no attention yet. I’m hoping though that after a win over Rory this week it will really put my name out there and show all these welterweights out there that I am for real.”

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Refereeing’s Loss is Bellator’s Gain

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When former Bellator color commentator Jimmy Smith left the organization last week, not many expected MMA veteran referee, John McCarthy, to be his replacement. There is little doubt that McCarthy will make an excellent color analyst. However, it’s hard not to be disappointed that the sport is losing one of the best and most experienced referees.

McCarthy has been part of the fabric of MMA and the UFC in particular, since 1993. He was hugely influential in creating and enforcing the rules of the cage that have changed MMA into the respected sport it is today. Back in early to mid-nineties, the ‘sport’ was fairly labeled by some critics as ‘human cockfighting’. Without McCarthy as an instrumental player in changing regulations and rules, who knows where the MMA would be today.

What we have grown to appreciate most about McCarthy over the past two decades is how simple he makes this tough job look, which can be credited to years of experience and dedication. To the layman, it would appear that it’s a simple as stopping the fight when a fighter is knocked out or submitted. MMA fans know there’s a lot more to it than that.

It’s difficult to remember a moment in recent memory where McCarthy has let a fight go too long, or even stopped a fight too soon. His timing is almost always perfect. His composure and rationale in the cage are unmatched. When McCarthy is the third man in the Octagon we know the fighters are in safe hands.

It’s worth reiterating how important McCarthy is in maintaining the standard of referring and judging in the sport. The sport of MMA is still very young and is growing rapidly and so are the rules. The former LAPD police officer created his own training school known as C.O.M.M.A.N.D. The course teaches the next generation of MMA referees and judges, and there is no better person to be educated by. Referees must complete this or a similar course run by Herb Dean to be licensed as an official.

Former fighter Frank Trigg, who has pursued refereeing since his career wound down, has taken the course. He recently appeared on The MMA Hour to explain just how tough C.O.M.M.A.N.D is. It took Trigg three attempts to pass, emphasizing just how difficult a career path officiating is.

While ‘Big John’ as he is more affectionately known hasn’t completely left refereeing, he will likely no longer be seen in the cage at the biggest shows. The pool of referees trusted with the big title fights is rather small. Normally McCarthy and Herb Dean are tasked with the important title fights.

It’s not all bad that McCarthy is stepping aside for the time being. The likes of Mark Smith, Jason Herzog, and Chris Tognoni have all shown they are capable officials. There is now a great opportunity for them to move into the main event slots. There are also the likes of Yves Lavigne, Mike Beltran and Marc Goddard who can be trusted to referee the big fights.

While it is surprising, it’s understandable that McCarthy is looking for new career ventures. It is no secret that MMA referees are poorly paid relative to other sporting officials. Las Vegas often discloses referee pay when assignments are announced. The pay tends to range between $1000 and $2000 for the night. Trigg explained on The MMA hour that there is no money in becoming a referee and that most also have full-time jobs. McCarthy’s passion for the sport of MMA has been the biggest incentive for refereeing. It is totally understandable that he would take a bigger payday and put all his knowledge of the sport to good use in the commentary booth.

McCarthy will almost certainly be as dedicated to his new job as he was with his refereeing duties. He can also offer a fascinating insight into the officiating of a fight that nobody else can offer. If there wasn’t already an excuse to watch Bellator 192 on January 20th, headlined by Rory MacDonald vs Douglas Lima, then there most definitely is now.

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Chael Sonnen vs. Rampage Jackson the new main event at Bellator 192

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Bellator is getting ready to kick off their heavyweight grand prix at Bellator 192 on January 20th. The grand prix gets started with two former UFC greats who have now set their sights on Bellator gold, Chael Sonnen and Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson. Today it was announced that this heavyweight matchup of two ordinarily light heavyweights will be getting the bump up to the main event. The reason for the change has not been announced.

The main event was scheduled to be the much anticipated welterweight matchup between champion Douglas Lima and former UFC title challenger Rory MacDonald. Bellator has been promoting this event as such the welterweight title fight would get top billing. Earlier this week the fighters involved in the main and co-main event were part of a conference call. At the time there was no mention of the switch to the lineup.

This fight between Sonnen and Jackson is just the first in a series of heavyweight fights leading up to the crowning of the Bellator heavyweight championship in December. There has been great interest shown in this heavyweight grand prix between fans and media, which could attribute to the last minute change.

Lima vs. MacDonald will now serve as the co-main event on January 20th. Lima, who has been with Bellator since 2011 has been accused of being overlooked by the organization. He has held the welterweight title since November 2016 and perhaps has not gotten the showcases he deserves. This event will take place at The Forum in Inglewood, California.

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