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Q&A: Marcus Davis on greatest ovation, UFC 99 fight

On January 17, 2009 at UFC 93, the stage was set for the kind of fight that Marcus Davis had always been looking for. Everyone and their mother knew that he and Chris Lytle's styles matched up well. Neither guy was going to come in with a lay and pray game plan. This was going to be a stand up war. On top of it all, to have the fight in Ireland. . . Could the stage have been any better?

Davis came through with a hard-fought split decision victory. And after one of the bigger fights of his career,'s Robert Rousseau took the time to pick his brain on that fight and what the future holds for him, amongst other things. I know it's been awhile, but congratulations on your win over Chris Lytle.

Davis: Thanks man. Appreciate it. That's a fight that took place in Ireland and you're of Irish ancestry. It was also one of those fights that pretty much everyone knew was going to stay on the feet and be a fight to remember from the night. What were the feelings you had walking into that one?

Davis: I was just really excited that I was going to be able to fight someone like Chris Lytle in Ireland. . . Everybody he's fought in the UFC has pretty much just tried to take him down to the ground and grind out wins that way with the exception of the fight with Thiago Alves. But Thiago won the fight with Chris on a cut and Chris was actually bringing it to him in that fight. So it was a big deal to be able to fight Chris in Ireland. I just really wanted to make it a big fight and have a good performance. How amazing is it that you go across the Atlantic and get an ovation like you did for that fight?

Davis: That's my biggest fan base now over there; it isn't over here. It was pretty moving. Afterwards, Dana White told me he hadn't heard anybody get cheered for at a weigh in or at a fight like I got cheered for. The only thing he could compare it to was when GSP fought in Montreal, but we only had 10,000 people and they had 22,000 people. He said it was crazy.

It's a good feeling, you know, because I've always been the bad guy for such a long time. I fight everybody in their hometown. All these guys from London, I'm fighting them in London; and Shonie Carter, a Marine on a Marine base; Pete Spratt from Houston, fought him in Houston. All the guys that I fight are always in their backyard. It was nice to be the good guy once. What do you think of Chris Lytle now that the fight is over?

Davis: Same thing I thought before. I think he's a great guy. Him and I are friends. We didn't fight because we didn't like each other, we fought because we did like each other and we respected each other. People don't understand, they think that you have to fight somebody because you don't like them. It's a lot different for us, because our best friends are the guys we train with and we're punching them everyday. You're always hitting your best friend?

I thought he was a really tough guy and he showed to be a really tough guy. Real durable. I caught him with some good punches and even the kick to the body that I knocked him down with. He got right back up and we kept going. It was a great fight. What's your training regimen like in between fights? Have you taken a break? What the process for you?

Davis: My main focus right now between fights is polishing up on the things that I need the most work on. So right now I'm doing a lot of straight wrestling, like freestyle type of wrestling, and I'm doing Muay Thai. Although I'm not technically training or doing anything for a fight, after I get back from London I take off and I'm going down to Dellagrotte's. I'm staying there for like a week and I'm just going to be working on Muay Thai while I'm down there. Then I come back here and I work on my wrestling in Bangor, Maine with the general manager of my gym who used to be an alternate on the Canadian Olympic Team for wrestling. Those are the things that I'm focusing on right now. Any word on who you might be fighting next or when?

Davis: June 13th is the date they gave me, which I believe is Germany. They have not given me an opponent yet. It's kind of up in the air. The names that I've heard kind of thrown around have been Dan Hardy? but he's got Markham first so maybe they were talking about the winner of that?but the one I've heard the most is Ben Saunders. But I know he broke his foot. I guess they said something about him coming back about that time. I don't know, they haven't talked to me. That stuff I've heard from my manager. I was looking back on your record and came across something that I didn't realize. Namely, you fought Thiago Alves way back in 2003 and lost by split decision. Tell me about what you can remember from that fight.

Davis: My understanding at the time was that he was like a blue belt in jiu jitsu. I was obviously a no belt in anything. I was a straight up boxer and he was a Muay Thai fighter. He was smaller. Both of us were smaller. I was bigger than him, though, at the time. He was quick. He wasn't like as big and bulky as he is now.

It was a stand up war. It was one of those fights that people that saw it and were there, like Mike Brown, who's from American Top Team? but also I used to be training partners with Mike Brown way back in the day down in Portland, Maine? he said it was one of the best fights he's ever seen in his life live. So it was a good fight. We both came out of it all banged up and cut up. I remember I had to get staples in my head (laughing). He hit me with like 6-12 elbows. And that was a time when they were trying to figure out the rules. They really had no idea what they were going to do. They told us what was legal and what wasn't legal. Then we went in there and some illegal things were being done but the referee just wasn't seasoned in what we were doing. It was just a complete crapshoot. It was pretty cool fight; it was a good one. That's what I remember.

I think him and I, if it could ever happen, would be a really cool fight for the fans to watch in that he's just looking like this indestructible machine; he's just going through everybody. But I think that styles are what make fights. Everybody he's fighting, all these wrestlers and stuff. . . When he lost to Fitch (they thought) that could be his Achilles Heel, so they just worked on it so now he's really hard to takedown. He's fighting wrestlers like Koscheck, Matt Hughes. . . He's fighting all these guys that are grapplers and they can't get him on the ground so he's knocking them all out. I think that a fight between him would be interesting because you'd have two guys, one that's more of a technician like me ?I mean he's a technician too?but I'm going to use more footwork and I'm going to use, now because I'm the smaller fighter, speed. Now I've actually been armed with kicks. I'm armed with kicks; I'm armed with knees. I threw more kicks and knees in that fight with Chris Lytle than I threw punches. So I'm a whole different fighter. I think that it would be interesting. Yep, it sounds like that would be a good fight if it ever came around. You've gone 8-1 in the UFC since TUF. That's a pretty stellar record. Do you feel that people should consider you a championship contender right now?

Davis: You know, I really don't worry about that stuff. . . It doesn't matter if I was or I wasn't. People are going to make their own assumptions. I think I'm like 15-1 or 14-1 overall record (13-1 according to Sherdog) and whatever it is since the TUF thing at the UFC. It is what it is. If I keep winning fights then people are going to think that I'm worthy. Right now it's kind of split. Some people think that maybe I deserve to be somewhere in that top 10 or 15 and then there's others that just think I'm a joke (laughing). I hear it all. I get it all. I get love mail; I get hate mail; I see posts about me being a farce, a joke, or whatever. That stuff doesn't effect me. I just make sure that I try to go out there and perform. Being a big deal to my kids and my family, that's about it. . . That's all that's important anyway, right?

Davis: Yeah, exactly. Is there anybody besides Thiago Alves and Georges St. Pierre? because he's the champion and everybody would like to get a shot at him? in the UFC that you'd like to test yourself against right now that comes to mind when you kind of think about it?

Davis: You know, I really haven't thought about it. You'd think I would. I look at it like Chris Lytle does. . . I'm looking to have exciting fights. That doesn't mean I'm not down for a little bit of the ground play either, that I'm not down for doing some ground fighting or whatever. But I want it to be mixed up. I want to have guys that are well-rounded fighters. That's who I want to fight. I want to fight guys that can strike a little bit and grapple a little bit and do everything a little bit. I don't want to fight somebody that all they're going to do is dive for my legs constantly and just try to lay on top of me and hold me down and make a long boring fight. That's just not what the fans want to see and that's not what I want to be remembered as. Because some fans will go yeah, Marcus fought so and so and all so and so did was lay him down and wet blanket him until a decision. But other people will group the two fighters together and say they're both horrible.

How it is now, there's a lot of extra money to be won and you're not winning bonus money by having a guy lay all over you. I'm not one of the young guys. I'm one of the older guys, and I'm not going to be able to do what Randy Couture has done and those guys and fight into my forties because the difference is that those guys were wrestlers, they came from a wrestling background. . . I've been getting punched and kicked in the head since I was 14 years old. I'm a 35 year old man now. . . There's definitely some changes going on with me. I want to make sure that I get out of this game with the ability to still spell my kid's game. I don't want to come out of it really punchy. I've seen what it's done to some of my boxing buddies from back in the day. I bumped into a couple of them actually in the last year that I've talked to and they're a mess. They can barely remember me. I don't want to end up like that. It scares the hell out of me.

One of my buddies who was the valedictorian and graduated from Bunker Hill College, a real smart guy. He's really punchy now. The weird thing is that when he quit fighting, the day he quit fighting, he was fine. . . It was like it was dormant and it came out a few years later. I don't know if there's any real studies on that, but that's what happens. Wow, that's scary.

Davis: Yeah, man. That's real scary. Got any thoughts on this weekend's upcoming fight between Diego Sanchez and Joe Stevenson?

Davis: Poor Joe hasn't had very much luck lately, you know. He's kind of been doing the whole win a couple lose one. . . and he's losing the ones that are pretty important. Every time he gets into one that's pretty important, he loses. I like Joe; I don't dislike Joe at all. But I also like Diego Sanchez. Now I'm flying out there tomorrow, so I'll be there.

If I had to pick one, I guess I'd kind of have to go with Joe Stevenson. . . The reason that I say this is that this is Diego's first time making 155. I've heard some stuff, I don't know if it's true, but if it is true, this is why I would make this decision. I've heard some stuff about his approach of making 155. I don't know if you've heard this stuff. Crazy stuff about Stevia and the way he's using the fake sugars and stuff like that to try and help him cut weight. It didn't sound very bright. Your training partner, Kenny Florian, may be getting BJ Penn next if things work out. A lot of people are going to pick Penn to win that fight. Do you think they're underestimating Florian?

Davis: Yeah. I'm a huge BJ Penn fan, and BJ knows that. But I think a lot of people are underestimating Kenny. Kenny has the ability to stop a takedown now. . . BJ isn't know for his takedowns a whole lot. . . And Kenny's not going to try and take BJ down, I don't believe. And Kenny's got diversified stand up. Kenny can switch back and forth from his boxing and his Muay Thai really well and he can use range really well. That alone, the ability to do that, he can give BJ some fits.

And this isn't like trying to toot my own horn or toot the horn of Sityodtong, but people don't understand that we have a very different group. There's a lot of different types of people there. It's a Muay Thai known school, so there's a lot of straight up Muay Thai guys that are really good there. But then I'm the kind of guy that all I am is constant movement. . . Then you got Kenny that's getting the best of both worlds from that. The work and the sparring partners and the people that he gets to train with, he's not getting the same kinds of training that everybody else is kind of accustomed to. When I've gone and traveled to other camps and stuff and I've watched guys train, they've got a Muay Thai coach and then they've got a boxing coach, where a boxing coach is just holding pads or hitting pads and he's calling out combos and he's tweaking their form. That's different than actually getting real time with a guy who's a boxer. Who is known for his movement, and then on top of it, you're in there, you're sparring with him all the time and (he's) able to tell you secrets. . . what makes it different is that the boxers that are teaching these other MMA guys, are boxers that don't know anything about MMA. They don't understand. . . They tell them to stand one way or to do this and MMA fighters are hearing it and they're like I can't stand like that because I can't check a kick; I can't stand like that because I can't sprawl or whatever. I can take that information and I can deliver it much more efficiently on how to do things correctly and use boxing in MMA effectively where a lot of guys can't do that. It is different. I don't care what anybody says. . .

In the long run, I think that if the fight stays standing I think that it's Kenny's to win.

I was around Kenny and training with Kenny (during) the whole Sherk thing. And I'll tell you this right now man, this is no "bleep." When Kenny was getting ready for Sherk, I was sparring with him, training with him, and doing stuff like that. They brought in all these wrestlers to help him get ready. After he lost that Sherk fight, when he came back to the gym, he was a different guy. I don't know what happened but something along the lines of him going you know what, watching the fight, being in that fight changed him and made him be like. . . I could've done this; I should've done that, doing that living the whole fight over again. And he changed his whole everything and he is a way, way better fighter than he was then. When people talk to me, they're like you're the most improved guy ever from the TUF series because you were so one dimensional? I always say, no I think Kenny is.

I think without a doubt Kenny Florian will be lightweight champion of the world at some point. If he doesn't do it immediately with BJ, he will do it. He's the real deal man. Everybody I've trained with, every place I've gone, I've worked out with big guys, little guys, and he's definitely one of the best by far that I've ever trained with. Anything that you'd like to say to fans out there?

Davis: I appreciate anybody supporting me. Anybody that gives me any kind of love and support, I appreciate it. I just hope that I can start delivering some exciting fights and keep them entertained.

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