There are people who believe veteran MMA fighter and Bellator 101 fighter Marcus Davis should hang up his gloves and stop fighting, and until recently, they were the people closest to him.
“When I first started doing this, they were all super supportive, every one of them – my wife, my kids, everybody,” Davis told MMAjunkie.com. “Then, when I started to go to the doctors when I had these problems, everyone leaned toward me stopping my fight career. And that’s what happens when people love you, care about you and want the best for you.”
Two years ago, Davis heeded those voices and stepped away from the sport for 12 months. Now, he’s back to fighting, and, at age 40, said he has the support of his family.
“Within the last year, every single person in my family and in my gym is behind me 100 percent,” he said. “All I get everyday is encouragement from my wife, that she believes in me and she’s praying for me, and this will open doors for myself and my children too. My success is their success.”
While it’s unclear what brought the shift, Davis sounds like a man renewed. He said these days, he’s fighting to prove wrong his original critics.
“At my age, the tough guy stuff is over,” he said. “I don’t have to prove anything to anybody. What’s good about me is that I don’t care what anyone thinks. I remember the small town I started from in Maine, and being told that I was out of my mind and I was never going to be a fighter.
“All I ever said to them was, ‘Watch me.’ And I’m saying that to everyone out there who thinks I’m 40 years old and my best years are behind me: Watch me.”
Of course, there remains evidence of his 20 years as a boxer and MMA fighter, and that will never go away. Davis, though, said he’s found a way to make peace with it.
“There might be disadvantages at this stage of my career, but they’re only disadvantages if you let them be that in your head,” Davis said. “You keep thinking about pains and problems? That’s all you’re going to have – pain and problems. So my age and experience is more of an advantage than a disadvantage.
“I’m a 40-year-old guy who teaches guys, and when you teach, you’re so in tune with the perfect technique and how to do it. So my technique has gotten better and better, and I’ve become more efficient at using my strength and cardio.”
Davis (22-9 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) believes those attributes will lead him to victory against yet another younger and presumably faster opponent, Alexander Sarnavskiy (23-1 MMA, 2-1 BMMA), whom he meets tonight in the opening round of Bellator’s Season 9 lightweight tournament. The event takes place at Rose Garden Arena in Portland, Ore., and airs on Spike TV.
“He’s usually the bigger, stronger guy,” Davis said. “Everyone always talks about how big and strong he is for a lightweight. Let’s make this clear: I was a heavyweight for my first two fights at 220 pounds. Then I fought at 205.
“One thing your body never forgets is where it began, and at one time I had the bone structure and muscle tissue of a 220-pound man who was working out with 405 pounds on the bench. That kind of strength stays with you. The last thing to leave is your power. When he punches with me, he’s going to know that this isn’t like anyone else’s punches.”
Although Davis is committed to fighting and left his family in order to prepare for tonight’s bout, he calls his bout with Sarnavskiy a “make it or break it” opportunity. But he’s adopted the mindset of a man 20 years his junior.
“Fans should expect me to tear through this lightweight tournament – just absolutely tear through it – and then tear through the rest of the whole division, including whoever has the belt,” Davis said. “Then, like I said, two years from now, I’ll be 8-0 in Bellator, and I’ll say, ‘I told ya so.’”
With that kind of confidence, he’s up for a spectacular comeback, or a dose of reality. Tonight, the MMA world will see which it is.
For the latest on Bellator 101, stay tuned to the MMA Rumors section of the site.