The fraternal twin brothers will fight on the same card, joining the likes of Antonio Rodrigo and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (Pride Critical Countdown Absolute, July 1, 2006) and Matt and Mark Hughes (Extreme Challenge 32, May 21, 2000) as twins who have accomplished the rare feat.
The Cesar Gracie-trained Douglas brothers, who fought together on an EliteXC show in September 2008, will do it this time on a televised card on Showtime, putting their entry on a future MMA trivia question a little more in the spotlight than their predecessors.
But if you're imagining David and Damion as the kind of twins who do everything together, like in a cheesy '80s Doublemint gum commercial, think again.
"Martial arts-wise, we've trained together," David told MMA Fighting earlier this week. "But hanging out-wise, we do our own thing. Even though everybody's looked at us as one person, we've always been two different people."
The Douglas brothers' fighting styles are also on opposite ends of the spectrum. David wants to scrap, but Damion, who also teaches MMA, is just fine being more cerebral with his approach.
"My fighting style is very aggressive, very in-your-face, no backing down, no pain, no gain type of style," David said. "I don't care. I just want to fight. I want pain. I want to feel the pain."
"I fight to better myself as a martial artist," Damion said. "It's great that this is the sport, and we're going to make a living at it and things of that nature. But when it comes down to it, that's the last thing that's important to me – fighting. Anyone can go out there and get into a fight. But to train yourself and to fight someone who's training for a fight and to put your ability to the test – that's the important part of the fight for me."
David (8-2, 2-1 Strikeforce), a lightweight who fights the Matt Hume-trained Caros Fodor in Friday's co-main event, said his aggressive style has always been with him.
"Ever since I was 5 – since I can pretty much remember – I've always been that way," David said. "I've always been a nice guy, but if someone wants to fight, I've never backed down. All he has to say is, 'I wanna fight.' And boom. Cuss me out or something, and it's fight time. If he's all in my face like, '(Screw) you. What are you gonna do?,' when I was a kid, you were getting punched. By high school, nobody wanted to mess with me anymore."
Growing up bi-racial in predominantly white Antioch, Calif., in San Francisco's East Bay area, didn't help matters much when it came to David's fighting ways. But he said once word got around that when he scrapped, he walked away unscathed, his playground fighting career was fairly short-lived.
"In the beginning, (I got in trouble) because in Antioch, me and my brother were the first bi-racial kids in the neighborhood, and there weren't too many of us in the school," David said. "Back in the day, we were singled out a lot. But it didn't take too long for me not to get in trouble for fighting because people were getting beat up. First time I knocked somebody out, I was 8 years old. It was sweet – he was snoring and everything. That was the first time I got jumped – when I was 8 years old. I've had (the aggressiveness) since Day One."
David has two Strikeforce wins in the last six months – a second-round TKO of Dominic Clark in October and a rear-naked choke win over Nick Gonzalez just six weeks ago. Those wins came after some early-career inconsistency with when he could take fights, in part thanks to what he called "baby-mama drama."
But that behind him, he said Friday's fight against Fodor is crucial for him to prove he's a force in the division.
"I want to fight the best in the world – I want to take this 155-pound division over," the father of two said. "That's my goal. I just want to fight all the time. I'm a peaceful guy. For me in the ring, if you knew me on the outside, I'm a real good guy. I'm not just some wild animal that wants to kill people. But that's my job, and that's what puts food on the table for the kids and a roof over their head – and that's what I'm good at."
Damion (3-1) returns to the cage for the first time in two and a half years to fight Wayne Phillips, who has won two straight Strikeforce fights. And Damion's only fight in the last 40 months was a 46-second submission win. He said the time off was intentional – and that he's more than ready.
"I was just trying to get my family situation right and make sure everyone was taken care of," Damion, a welterweight, said of the long layoff. "And my training's on point now. I have the ability to fight at any time, but that's not how I like to take fights. I like to be sound and ready. I've been ready for the past six months to go, but we've been trying to get the right fight. We were just waiting for the right time. The layoff time was to make sure my training stayed right, and I made the transition over from working night jobs to teaching martial arts. There were a lot of factors that I was being aware of. That's why I took the time off. I never stopped training, and I never stopped looking for the right fight, and this is the time."
While fighters never know when or if the dreaded cage rust is going to strike them, it certainly has played a role for fighters coming off layoffs of 10 months or a year. But two and a half years?
Damion said it won't matter. Since he trains with the likes of Nick and Nate Diaz, Gilbert Melendez and Jake Shields at Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy, and is himself an MMA instructor, he believes cage rust will be a moot point.
"I feel my skills have bettered since I've taken the time off," Damion said. "I've conditioned myself way beyond where I was two years ago. I completely molded my life to where I was going – working up to this week. My training partners are some of the best in the world. Sparring with those guys on a regular basis is like going to a fight. There's been no layoff for me – I just haven't had a chance to get paid for it in a while and I haven't had a chance to get acknowledged for it outside my school."
And having world champions and title contenders around only makes Damion realize even more where he wants to be.
"I want to be, career-wise, where those guys are at, living a comfortable lifestyle," Damion said. "That comes with constantly competing and being out there. Hopefully after this, I can have that opportunity to get those fights on a regular basis. That's the difference – just having those fights and working my way up the ladder. Being around those guys tells me I'm in the right place and I can get there, too."
And despite a slightly different approach to getting in the cage than David – who said his brother is about "more strategy, not getting hit and stuff like that" – Damion said he isn't afraid to put on a show to make a name.
"I want them to see I'm a threat in this sport – I'm not a stepping stone," Damion said. "I'm there to fight, and I'm not looking to hold down a guy and squeak out a win. If this guy can take a punch, we're going to be fighting for a long time. But if he can't take a hit, it's going to be fireworks. I want Strikeforce to realize I'm someone they need to put up against the best guys. Hopefully they see my abilities and I can get a tough fight. This guy's no slouch. He's no punk. But I'd like to fight somebody with a name so I can move up the ranks."
David said he's just glad to see his brother ready to fight again.
"I'm glad to get him that exposure, that I had something to do with that," David said of Damion's last fight in EliteXC and this one with Strikeforce. "I'm glad that I can help my family out with what they want to do in life. I just want to see my brother be more active. We have kids, so it's hard. He's ready now."
And David believes he is ready, as well. Though his playground fighting days are well behind him, he carries with him plenty of playground swagger.
"I don't think anybody can beat me when I'm 100 percent," David said. "He might drag it on to the second round, but I don't think he'll go beyond that. There's just too much punishment – and how much punishment can one person take? I'm willing to take anything. If they said, 'Here's swords. You guys gotta fight with swords now,' then that's what we gotta do. I don't care. And he has to not care either – and I think he does care. A lot of people care about being hit and rocked and tired, and I don't. I could have not a breath to breathe, and I'm still gonna throw the hardest shot you've seen. I like the pain. I want to fight to where I'm hurt, myself. I'm not going to go out there and point-fight somebody. I'm going out there to try and end their career. Hopefully I don't, and they can still fight – but that's after the bell."
Asked about his brother's fighting style versus his own, Damion brings the anti-Doublemint twin sentiment home: "We really are like night and day."
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