A collegiate wrestler making the move to MMA seems more of a requirement these days than a novelty. One of the latest in an ever-growing line of them is Phil Davis. The Penn State alum made his debut at UFC 109 with a unanimous decision victory over Brian Stann. The man nicknamed “Mr. Wonderful” is set to get back in the cage this Saturday against Alexander Gustafsson in a light heavyweight bout at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. And if you ask Davis, there's ample room for improvement.
“I wasn't really too impressed with it, but what's done is done,” Davis said of his Octagon debut on the Sherdog Radio Network's “Jordan Breen Show” this week. “Yeah, I took him down. Yeah, I punched him on the ground but I didn't finish him. He's tough as nails but I couldn't finish him. I was working for a finish but I didn't get it. So in my mind I've got to get a finish in this fight.”
Davis’ UFC debut came after only four career fights, but despite the fast rise into the world’s No. 1 promotion, the 25-year-old fighter is far from a finished product.
“I don't even know what my style is to tell you the truth,” said Davis. “I definitely have a couple of different looks. The one you saw against Brian Stann, I call that ‘Phil.’ It's very hard to finish, very rugged. The one I'm going to use in Abu Dhabi I call that ‘Dave,’ it's more of a spring look, a little bit softer. I use it mostly just for catalogs and just a finesse kind of thing I do. I shouldn't even be talking about that yet, it's not even done yet.”
What's the difference between “Phil” and “Dave”?
“’Phil's’ what you saw against Brian Stann,” Davis explained. “That's the take-you-down, rough-you-up, beat-you-up a little bit (style). That's when I'm a grunt. That's me the wrestler. ‘Dave’ is much more technical, so much smoother, it's just going to be night and day. You guys aren't going to want to call me Phil ‘Mr. Wonderful’ anymore. It's going to be ‘Phil’ and ‘Dave’ and become two completely different people.”
The multiple personas signify Davis' increasing comfort in a sport that he's only been a part of for 18 months.
“I think there's a direct correlation there,” he said. “The more comfortable I get the more my mojo can really get going and I can settle into my role as a fighter.”
With his gaining confidence, Davis’ comedic personality is also emerging.
“Most of the training camp consisted of different things,” said Davis. “I'm worried about getting hit this time so I made sure I went and got a facial. I got my skin exfoliated just in case I get hit. It's a little bit softer. It'll absorb the punches a little better. I'm hitting all angles this time. I'm not just going to leave things to chance. I've got an extra massage this week. I usually have a weekly massage, I got an extra massage this week because I'm not leaving anything to chance. Extra massage. Extra relaxed. Extra smoothness. Extra ‘Dave.’”
Still, even “Dave” sees that there’s serious work to be done in the Octagon.
“You've got to switch up your game when you're fighting different people,” said Davis of his game plan. “I don't know what this joker is going to throw at me. I saw a training video of him throwing seven different kinds of smoke and that was in practice. In practice. Not the game. We’re talking about practice. The way I see, I'm not even going to play games with him. I'm going to go in there, get smooth on him, take him down nice and smooth lock up an arm triangle, maybe transition to armbar, bring him back up, knees, knees, knees, elbows, takedown, high kick, low kick, bada bing. Real solid technique stuff. That's all you're going to see out of me.”