25-year-old UFC light-heavyweight Phil "Mr. Wonderful" Davis (5-0) is one of the sport's rising stars.
Prior to mixed martial arts, Davis spent four years on the University of Penn State's wrestling team. While there he compiled a record of 116-20, was a four-time All-American, and 2008 NCAA National Champion.
After his successful collegiate wrestling career was completed, Davis made his professional mixed martial arts debut in late 2008. In less than a twelve month span he proceded to go 4-0 with only one fight reaching the second round, which earned him a spot in the UFC's light-heavyweight division.
He made his organizational debut for the UFC at UFC 109 against former WEC light-heavyweight champion Brian Stann. Davis dominated the entire 15 minutes the two were inside of the octagon, earning a unanimous decision victory.
The former Division I standout trains alongside the likes of WEC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz, Brandon Vera, Joey Beltran, Lew Polley, and others at Alliance Training Center in San Diego, California under the tutelage of coaches Eric Del Fierro and Billy Scheibe.
Speaking exclusively with Bleacher Report, Davis talked about working with the aforementioned Del Fierro and Scheibe for his fight against Alexander Gustafsson this Saturday night at UFC 112.
"I really enjoy working with my coaches, and they have a great coaching style. That’s what it’s ultimately about. Can you work with your coaches, trust that they’re showing you good stuff, and effectively execute what they’re showing you."
Having faith in your coaches and finding a training center to call home is exactly what the light-heavyweight feels he has found, and he believes that those coaches deserve more recognition for their hard work.
"A lot of people are like, 'who’s your coach? Oh, I haven’t heard of those guys.' My thing is Freddy Roach wasn’t always Freddy Roach. In the beginning he was just Freddy Roach, and then he got a couple of fighters and he turned them into great fighters.
One day, people are going to say, 'man, these guys are Billy Scheibe and Eric Del Fierro!' I know the potential is there for them to make champions."
For those unfamiliar with the name Freddy Roach, he is a legendary trainer in boxing and has worked with several of boxings all-time greats. With his own coaches still in mind, Davis was asked how close the relationship between his coaches and his training partners really are.
"Alliance is like a big family of fighters and we take people in. You train with us and we take you in. That’s pretty much how it works. We have a solid team and a great, great camp."
A portion of the light-heavyweight's camp was spent at altitude in Big Bear, California, which sits some 7,000 feet above sea level. So, how exactly does it feel to train at such high altitude where it is harder to get oxygen to your lungs and lactid acid sets in much faster?
Davis explains, "It was good, but It was kind of like being in the Marines or Navy Seals and going through hell week over and over again."
Most fighters say that the preparation is the hard part and the fight itself is the enjoyable part. If the fight itself becomes the easy part for Davis on Saturday night the organization's light-heavyweight division will be put on notice that a new star has arrived.
The Alliance trained fighter has always been fond of Abu Dhabi, which is why he expects to fully enjoy his stay on Yas Island in Ferrari World where the event takes place.
"It’s one of those places that I’ve always wanted to go, and I’m just glad that I get to go there, and I’m going to have a good time. Eric (Del Fierro), Lloyd (Irvin), and World Champion Dominick Cruz will be making the trip over for moral support with me.
If I do what I'm supposed to do then I'll be money. Come Sunday morning, I’m going to be smiling on my way back home."
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