Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series has been a life-changer for the several fighters that earned UFC contracts thanks to their efforts on the show, but it’s clear that this isn’t your typical situation for those strapping on the gloves in Las Vegas.
Simply put, it’s an official fight, so a win is of paramount importance, but how a fighter wins may spell the difference between an invite to the UFC and a trip back to the regional circuit.
Mississippi’s Brandon Davis wasn’t concerned as he got ready to face Austin Arnett on Aug. 1. In fact, he let UFC President White know just what to expect.
“Before the fight, he (White) walked by the locker room and was talking to (Davis’ coach) Alan (Belcher) and I said, ‘I’m coming out to put on a show; that’s the only way I know how to fight.’”
Then Davis went and did it as he pounded out an exciting three-round decision win over Arnett that earned him his eighth pro victory and a UFC contract. That’s not to say he wasn’t a little concerned as two other fights ended in spectacular fashion for Julian Marquez and Kyler Phillips.
“Right after the fight, no, I wasn’t worried because I had so many people coming up to me and telling me there was no way I wasn’t getting it. They said they loved the fight and we got a standing ovation, and Dana came up to me and fist bumped me. But then I saw Julian Marquez get his head kick and Kyler finish his guy, I was like, ‘Oh man, I might not have it.’”
But he did get it, along with Marquez. And in the case of Davis, it really came down to the fact that he beat an experienced foe who belonged there in Arnett, and he did it without playing it safe for 15 minutes. That’s just not the 27-year-old featherweight’s way.
“You have to go in there with that mindset,” Davis said. “I’ve seen people on there before and they just went in there and lay down on the guys, and I’m like, ‘Dude, what are you doing?’ Dana White’s right there and he’s probably on his cell phone right now texting somebody. He’s not watching that.’ I told my coaches the other day, ‘Man, that’s the only way I know how to fight,’ so it’s no added pressure for me. Just go in there and fight the only way I know how to fight. If he can take it, then he can take it. If not, then I’ll finish it. That’s how my mindset was – I’m either gonna finish him or it’s gonna be a three-round war.”
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That mindset is apparently a common one in D’Iberville, Mississippi, a city that has not only produced Davis, but rising UFC stars Jason Knight and Chase Sherman. And according to Davis, there are more fighters in his gym who are ready to make the leap to the big show.
“We all wanted to (get to the UFC level) beforehand, but we never saw it being a real available option until Jason got that short notice call against (Tatsuya) Kawajiri,” he said. “And he lost that fight, but then he got on his win streak. Then Chase made it, and we’re all feeding off that. We have two or three other guys at the gym that can make it this year. So we’re all feeding off what (UFC vet) Alan (Belcher) started a long time ago and Jason revamped. We’re all training together and we all push each other, so whenever we see one person doing that well, we want it just as much, so we’re gonna work just as hard or harder to get that same opportunity.”
As for Davis’s next fight, which will be his first in the UFC, it’s no surprise that he’s ready to go…now.
“I’m ready to fight on the Stefan Struve card if somebody backs out,” Davis said of the UFC Fight Night event in Rotterdam on September 2. “I’m trying to fight as much as I can. I’ll fight four times before the end of this year if they’ll let me.”
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