The picture of L.C. Davis, blood coming from his mouth, teeth seemingly missing will be one etched in the mind of anyone who watched his classic fight against Hideo Toroko at Bellator 135 in Thackerville, Okla.
But despite the appearance, Davis did not lose any teeth. His jaw was just so badly broken from a Tokoro upkick that the bone pushed into his mouth.
"It just broke a bone in my jaw," Davis told MMAFighting.com on Tuesday. "The teeth didn't actually get knocked out. The bone just got pushed back. I thought my teeth were out. They were solid in my gums. Just the whole bone got broke back. They popped it back in place and wired it up."
The good news for Davis is that he won the fight via split decision at WinStar World Casino, putting his name in the mix as a bantamweight title contender. The bad news is that his jaw will be wired for the next five to six weeks and he won't be able to train with contact until two to three weeks after that.
Davis (23-6) is in good spirits, though. His bout with Tokoro was moved from the prelims to the co-main event when a fight between Eduardo Dantas and Mike Richman dropped out. And it became a Fight of the Year candidate.
"I wanted to make their decision look good," Davis said. "I felt like I did that. I felt like I showed the world I'm a worthy contender. You're only as good as your last fight. People forget about you easily in this sport."
Davis thinks he has earned a shot against one of the top 135-pound contenders in Bellator next: champion Marcos Galvao, Joe Warren, Eduardo Dantas or Mike Richman. At 34 years old, the Kansas City native is in the midst of a career resurgence. Since leaving the WEC in 2010, he is 7-2.
The other thing Davis accomplished Friday night was putting a spotlight on his brother's murder case. Ryan Cobbins disappeared on Oct. 24, 2013 in Kansas City and his body was found in the bathtub of an abandoned home two months later. No arrests have been made in the killing and Davis is in touch with the investigating detective every week. Cobbins was 24 years old when he went missing.
"There were zip-ties on his wrists and his ankles," Davis said. "He was assassinated at point-blank range. It was pretty bad."
There was a video package on Cobbins' story that aired during the Bellator event on Spike TV and multiple media outlets picked it up last week before his fight. At first, Davis didn't want to talk about it, because he didn't want anyone to pity him. But now he's glad he did.
"That was awesome, to be able to share that story," Davis said. "A lot of people don't even know that story, don't even know that I had a half brother. It was just good to get that out there. Hopefully it sheds light on his case. Maybe someone steps forward and does the right thing that saw it. Maybe they know someone that knows someone."
Davis will set some money aside from his fight purse to put into a trust for Cobbins' two daughters, something he has done after every bout since his brother's murder.
"Anything I can do to help him out," Davis said. "I know he'd do the same thing for me in this situation. It's kind of like I adopted them in a way. Without them having a father, that part of it hurts me more than anything."
With his brother on his mind constantly, Davis will now forge ahead and try to achieve his dream of becoming Bellator champion. Bellator 135 was a huge step in that direction and a major positive for Davis across the board.
"It weighs on me," he said. "There's not a day that I don't think about it. With the case still unsolved, there's just a lot of questions you'd like to have answered. All I can do is keep moving forward. I'm a hard worker and someone that never gives up. I know he would want me to do the same."