1 Down and 1 to Go: How Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis Maintained His Focus

Bellator MMA rekindled the fire of fight fans, fanning the flames of their burning curiosities, when Scott Coker, CEO, introduced Dynamite 1, an event pitting four light heavyweights in a tournament style format. The fuse was lit on Spike TV, and fans’ enthusiasm exploded when they witnessed Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis (15-3 1NC) reinvigorate MMA’s Wild West. Even with a lengthy list of rules and regulations restraining the no holds barred aspect of a remembered tournament, last seen at UFC 8, on February 16, 1996, the intrigue meter tilted in a steep incline with the thought of an athlete preparing mentally for battle not only once, but twice. Davis appeared as a special guest on Submission Radio, episode 67, and recalled the most difficult aspect of fighting in a tournament, ensuring the next match isn’t a dud.

Photo credit to Affliction Clothing

Davis declared the most strenuous point along the wick of Dynamite 1,

“It was refocusing after your first win and not to get too happy or get too caught up in my last win.”

In exemplary fashion, “Mr. Wonderful” detailed the mindset required to re-center yourself before you re-enter the cage,

“That last win means nothing. Now, it’s time to concentrate on the fight in front of me.”

Davis, a former Division 1 NCAA All-American at Penn State, chilled the audience as he replayed the self-talk instituted at the intermission between bouts, situating listeners in his wrestling shoes,

“It was like, ‘Man, Emanuel Newton is a super tough guy. To be able to finish him in the first period…’ That’s like, ‘Ooh, that’s worth celebrating over. Not tonight you don’t. Tonight you don’t worry about that; that’s water under the bridge. Now, you’ve got to go through King Mo next, you know?’”

The question Davis returned was meant in gest of friendly-fire, easy conversation, but it seemed to hang there, disorienting listeners’ thinking in the same manner a tremendous detonation would. Unless an athlete has experienced the grueling hardship of being reintroduced under the bright lights of one MMA event, it’s an abstract notion for anyone to comprehend.

Photo courtesy of Paul Varelans

Former UFC competitor, Paul “The Polar Bear” Varelans, a semi-finalist and finalist in the UFC’s dark days of bracketology, fought at UFC 6, 7, and 8. When Varelans came out of hibernation, he feasted on some air time at The Sports Cage, and he discussed how easily the pressures encountered after winning one match, while waiting on deck for the next, may have forced some to freeze in their tracks; thereby, they were unable to attain the level of concentration necessary to optimally compete,

“It takes a certain level of commitment, or craziness, to return to the ring with the injuries you’ve got from before. You’re going to get hurt in a fight…They [event personnel] keep coming into your dressing room to check on you, to see if you can still fight. They are coming in and asking you and asking you. You start wondering yourself if you can do this.”

Wonderfully, Davis shrugged off the weight that rested on his shoulders and finished both bouts in the first round, Newton at 4:39 and Francis Carmont at 2:15, and the Dynamite 1‘s triumphant tourney-man reiterated, in his airy, light-hearted manner, how he maintained his winner-takes-all code of conduct,

“That was really the toughest thing. It sounds silly. You should be able to do that. Normally, you get a first round finish, and that is the end of the night. It’s shower, change, get ready for the press conference. It was like: change your gloves, get me some more gloves, get taped up again, and get back into that pre-fight, very intense, focused feeling.”

Photo credit to Combat Press

If ninety percent of anything is mental, this statistic’s validity sounds with bells and clappers when entering a hand-to-hand duel against others who equally want to blow-up the MMA scene with claims to fame. By dominating his opposition, Davis dictated the rawness and high-caliber athlete mixed martial artists personify, both physically and mentally. Bellator MMA’s brass wasted no time scheduling the next Dynamite event, Dynamite 2, on New Year’s Eve in Tokyo, Japan, after observing MMA fans’ appetites moisten at the re-upping of extremism in the world’s already most extreme sport. Boom!

Check out this episode of Submission Radio and others at:


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