L.C. Davis plans on making an impact in Bellator’s bantamweight division. | Keith Mills/Sherdog.com
Prior to being paired with Hideo Tokoro at Bellator 135, L.C. Davis had decidedly different plans in mind.
After winning his first two bouts within the Scott Coker-led promotion, Davis hoped for an opponent that would propel him into title contention. He was admittedly unfamiliar with Tokoro.
“At first I was like, ‘Geez, they’re giving me another guy that no one knows that’s never fought in Bellator,’” Davis told Sherdog.com. “I’m 2-0 and I’m trying to get a title shot, and I was hoping I’d get one of the names ahead of me like [Mike] Richman or [Eduardo] Dantas or [Marcos] Galvao. Those are the names I was hoping I was gonna get.”
Of course, all of the above are -- or will be -- otherwise booked: Galvao will challenge reigning 135-pound king Joe Warren at Bellator 135, while Richman and Dantas were supposed to meet that same night, but their bout has been postponed due to a Richman injury. Davis spent much of his camp preparing for that very possibility, but Bellator is holstering the Dantas-Richman matchup for another date.
“When I was training for this fight and I knew those guys were ahead of me, four of the top bantamweights on the same card as me, deep down in my mind I know how MMA works,” he said. “I was always training with the idea that I need to train for all four of these guys, because if anybody gets hurt I can step in and fight one of them. In the back of mind I was training for all of them.
“When Richman went down I thought I would be fighting Dantas, but I guess that’s a matchup they want to keep -- two exciting standup fighters,” Davis continued. “Myself, I’m a little more well rounded, and I think the fear of me taking one of those guys down and grinding them out is not something either one of them wanted to face. That’s probably why that matchup didn’t happen.”
That’s OK, though, because once Davis had a chance to review Tokoro’s resume, he changed his tune regarding the matchup.
“When I got his name at first I was a little disappointed. But I looked him up and I saw that he’s definitely a worthy opponent,” Davis said. “Anytime you’re fighting a guy with that much experience it’s gonna be tough, so I’m excited about it.”
Indeed, Tokoro is not lacking for experience. Over the course of a 61-bout professional career, the 37-year-old Japanese bantamweight has competed against the likes of Caol Uno, Royce Gracie, Ivan Menjivar, Brad Pickett, Darren Uyenoyama, Masakazu Imanari and Rumina Sato, among others.
If Davis wants to break into the upper-echelon of Bellator’s bantamweight division, Tokoro could be the ideal steppingstone -- especially since their bout has been promoted to the evening’s co-main event.
“I’m looking to make their decision look good. I’m gonna go out there and be exciting and look for the kill and showcase my talent,” Davis said. “I’m on the big stage, so I’m looking to go out there and make a statement with this fight.”
Davis set himself up to succeed by dropping from featherweight following a split-decision loss to Christian Uflacker at Hoosier Fight Club 10 in February 2012. Since then, the World Extreme Cagefighting and International Fight League veteran has won six of his last seven bouts, and he’s quick to point out that his lone defeat during that time came at a catch-weight, not at bantamweight.
That, along with the addition of MMA coach Travis Conley, has paid dividends over the past few years. In fact, it was Conley who helped Davis decide to move to 135 pounds after the loss to Uflacker.
“I’ve always been a small featherweight. I’ve never been heavier than 160 pounds in my life and I was fighting 155, 145 early in my career,” Davis said. “I think 135 is the most competitive weight class for me.”
Before the WEC’s rise to prominence, there simply weren’t a whole lot of opportunities for fighters in smaller weight classes. Even dating back to his IFL days, Davis was forced to fight one or two divisions up in order to stay active.
“I should have been at bantamweight my whole career. I turned pro in 2006; there weren’t a lot of bantamweight opportunities. There were no featherweight opportunities when I first started. I was fought a couple fights in IFL at 155....I was fighting 155, weighing 155. As the sport evolved, I realized I can’t keep doing this and had to drop to a much more competitive weight for me.”
Davis likes what he sees from Bellator since joining the promotion’s roster last year. Having already fought for a couple organizations that etched their place in MMA lore, the Kansas City resident is confident Bellator can continue to do the same -- and potentially more.
“I felt like when I was in the WEC it was probably the second biggest or best organization around. [When] I fought in the IFL it was kind of the same thing. I feel like Bellator has the same feel,” Davis said. “With Scott Coker at the helm, they’re really doing these big shows with the big entrances and that’s different from the UFC. If they keep pushing in the right direction, eventually they can be the best organization.”