NCAA Champion Wrestler Dazzles in Debut

By Jack Encarnacao and Joe Harrington Oct 12, 2008
PLYMOUTH, Mass. -- Phil Davis, to put it mildly, got off to a good start.

Davis -- one of only four Penn State University wrestlers to become an All-American on four occasions -- dazzled in his professional mixed martial arts debut. “Mr. Wonderful” showed all the tools necessary to make a speedy transition, as he took a unanimous decision from light heavyweight Brett Chism in the main event at No Boundary “The Awakening” on Saturday at the JunglePlex.

Davis (1-0) displayed crisp footwork, good jabs and some serious kicks in the first round before he shot in and secured a double-leg takedown. He worked competently on the floor, landing heavy punches and working for an Americana. Davis then achieved mount and closed out the round dropping bombs.

In the second, the decorated amateur wrestler threw a big high kick, delivered another takedown when Chism (6-4) rushed him and jumped to a high mount before being swept. The chiseled newbie eventually reclaimed mount and worked punches until the final bell of the two-round scrap.

“It could have been fresher, could have been crisper,” said Davis, 24, who began training MMA a month before he graduated from Penn State in May. “You got to hit that point where nobody can beat you.”

Joe Harrington/

Phil Davis (top) vs. Brett Chism
Davis, a Harrisburg, Pa., native, won the NCAA title at 197 pounds this year. The four-time All-American trains out of LionHeart MMA in State College, Pa. The camp’s similar to the Oklahoma-based Team Takedown, which plucks top amateur wrestlers and pays them to train in MMA as soon as their collegiate careers are over.

Described by ESPN as “an athletic freak, with gi-enormous arms and surprising power,” Davis went undefeated in four amateur MMA fights, clips of which have garnered significant attention on YouTube. He was 116-20 in his collegiate wrestling career, placing him ninth all-time at Penn State.

Davis’ professional debut was originally set for September, but it was canceled when an opponent fell through. Until last week, he was not scheduled to fight on Saturday, either. Davis was tapped as a late replacement for Karn Gregorian, a short-lived hopeful on the current season of “The Ultimate Fighter” who promoters said pulled out due to illness.

The Davis-Chism bout headlined “The Awakening,” a 10-fight card held in the airy JungePlex indoor sports stadium. It was the first event from No Boundary, a promotion run by Frederic Belleton, a ShoXC veteran and student of nationally known trainer Mark DellaGrotte. Notable guests at the event included DellaGrotte, Nate Quarry, Josh Gripsi and Patrick Cote, who spoke to the crowd about his UFC middleweight title fight against Anderson Silva on Oct. 25 in Chicago.

“We are very, very confident right now to beat this guy,” Cote said. “We’re going there to win, and we are ready to shock the world. I’ll do a Matt Serra [upset win] myself.”

In other bouts, local heavyweight standout Eric Foley, of South Shore Sports Fighting, outwrestled Randy Smith for three rounds to remain undefeated, and charismatic lightweight Chip Pollard, out of Cape Cod, Mass., put forward a great performance in dispatching Andrew Slocum by technical knockout. Meanwhile, Justin Homsey survived several submission attempts and put away Aguilano Brandao in one the night’s best fights.

Other Bouts

Hercules Benjamin def. Braden Bice -- Submission (Strikes) 2:06 R1
Jesse Peterson def. Eddie Saldana -- Decision
Ryan Contaldi def. Pat O’Leary -- Unanimous Decision
Rigo Dominicci def. Matt Johnson -- TKO (Strikes) 1:48 R1
Jeff Remick def. Aaron Skates -- Submission (Guillotine Choke) 0:26 R1
Don Carlos Clauss def. Chris Cape -- Unanimous Decision
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