Phil Davis on Ryan Bader Rematch: ‘He’s Poked the Bear’

Having had seven months off since his Bellator middleweight title win over Liam McGeary in November, Phil Davis is feeling energized and ready to get back to action.

“Things have been going good,” Davis told MMAWeekly.com of his 2017 thus far. “My body is healthy and that’s more than you can ask for. Just being healthy is half the fight.”

Having been more than half a year since his win over McGeary, Davis has seen improvement in his game. And even if he hadn’t had the time off, he believes we would see a different fight in his upcoming bout with Ryan Bader anyway.

“I wouldn’t say it changes drastically, but it grows every six to nine months,” said Davis. “You add new things and tools to your toolbox, and next thing you know, you’re doing stuff you never did (before).

“Liam McGeary and Ryan Bader are so far different that, even if I hadn’t changed much, you would get a completely different fight. I’ve definitely improved and refined my game since November, and what you’ll get is a special treat this time.”

On June 24 in New York City Davis (17-3) will defend his Bellator 185-pound title for the first time in a rematch against Bader (22-5). The two first fought under the UFC banner in 2015; a bout which Bader won.

“For guys like Ryan, in times like this where you have a rematch, he’s put himself in a bad position,” Davis said. “He’s poked the bear and is going to get everything that’s coming to him. You don’t want to take too much emotion in there with you, but at the same time, I don’t know how I cannot in a fight like this.

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“You definitely want to treat this as a completely new fight (strategically) because he’s going to go back and watch that first fight and clean up his game and prepare for the positions I beat him and try to stop that. I’m going to come out with fresh eyes – see what’s open – and beat him up wherever he is.”

Now that he has a title, Davis’ motivation is holding onto it and establishing his place as one of the best middleweight fighters in the world.

“The new challenge is maintaining that position and being ready for everybody to come after you,” said Davis. “Everybody wants that title and they’re going to come at you super strong. It’s just a matter of preparing and being ready for that. It’s really finding ways to build your legacy as a fighter.”

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