Harrisburg’s Phil Davis hopes to state title case with Bellator 200 win
Phil Davis, facing, throws a punch against Leo Leite during their November fight in state college.
Phil Davis has heard the talk coming from Linton Vassell heading into their Friday night fight at Bellator 200 in London.
Vassell hits hard, the fight is in his backyard, and he’s promised to make Davis “pay” for his every move.
Bring up such talk however, and you’ll just get a chuckle from the former Harrisburg High and Penn State standout wrestler.
Hard to blame him.
Davis (18-4) was a featured fighter on Bellator’s State College card back in November, and had a front-row seat for Vassell’s fight that night against light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader.
And Bader, who defeated Davis for the title in June of last year, had his way with Vassell, taking him down early and finishing him via second-round TKO.
“You said it yourself,” Davis said. “He thinks he’s going to do things on the ground, but we saw Bader take him down and smoke him like a turkey. So, I’m going to have to agree with you (that I have the advantage on the ground).”
So, that figures to be where Davis takes things, especially in what looks to be an important fight for his title hopes.
Bellator 200 is slated to air on Paramount TV at 9 p.m.
Davis is 6-2 in his last eight fights, and Bader handed him both losses.
A win could setup a trilogy or, at least, take him a step closer to that.
And, with Bader taking part in Bellator’s heavyweight tournament, it could even possibly open the door to Davis having a shot at an interim title, should the promotion decide to go in that direction.
While he seems to have a decided advantage on the ground, though, Davis isn’t necessarily expecting an easy fight.
Vassell (18-6) had a three-fight winning streak going into the Bader fight with wins over former champions Emanuel Newton and Liam McGeary.
And Davis, who made the trek to London nearly two weeks before the fight, said he has struggled to adjust to the time difference.
There’s also the whole fighting on enemy turf thing.
But, Davis said, his Penn State wrestling days prepared him well for that.
“I used to pump the team up,” he said. “I’d say, ‘You might feel good. You might be the top-ranked team in the Big 10, but you’re not good until you’re good on the road.’ There’s no such thing as a great player that isn’t good on the road. You have to be able to show up when it’s not a home game.”
So, the plan is simple enough, beat Vassell up and then look at what’s next.
“He is absolutely dangerous,” Davis said. “You never want to sleep on a guy. In no way am I taking him lightly. He’s skilled, and he’s at the top of the division.
“You are always planning your next step,” he added. “I think it’s about stating my case. I need to beat up Linton Vassell and state my case to the fans and promotions, ‘I’m beating the crap outta these guys, and I’m ready to get the that title back.”