by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
Dennis “The Piranha” Davis is one of those fighters who always seems to build up a lot of momentum, only to have it dashed for one reason or another, preventing him from making a big breakthrough in MMA.
After reigning longer than any other fighter as a Sportfight Champion with Team Quest in Oregon, a move to Las Vegas last year seemingly cost Davis not only his title, but also his hopes of making his big-time MMA debut, at least for now.
Now living in Utah and training alongside TUF 2 standout Josh Burkman at the American Whu-Hitu Club in Salt Lake City, Davis is poised to make 2006 his breakthrough year.
“I feel great,” said Dennis of his relocation. “I’ve been training up here like crazy in Utah. I’m just coming off my last fight [at Sportfight in April] already in shape, so I didn’t have to work too hard to get into shape. I just had to maintain it, and I’m looking to peak at the right moment again.”
Davis added, “Basically, I moved to Las Vegas, thought things would go good there, but things never seemed to come about. I could never really get a good team around. I was thinking about moving to San Diego to train with Dean Lister, when Josh Burkman called me and told me to come up here to train with him and his guys. So I came up here to help him get ready for the Drew Fickett fight and see how I liked it. I liked it, so I packed up my stuff, moved out there, and training has been going great.”
While Davis was in Nevada, he got caught up in the 24-hours-per-day party scene, in addition to running his own school, both of which adversely affected his training and his fighting career. As Dennis puts it, while Las Vegas may be a fighting Mecca, it is by no means perfect.
“In Vegas, it chews you up and before you know it you’re on bottom,” commented Davis. “Basically, I didn’t do too good, mostly because I wasn’t training like I was when I was with Quest, where I had top guys beating on me and pushing me all day.”
“At my own school, I was top dog and didn’t have anyone beating up on me. I took a break, but when I heard that the UFC was bringing back the lightweight division, I knew it was time to get back in there. I feel great now, and I feel I’m in better shape than I was with Quest. I’m focused again, and now this is the only thing I want to do,” added Dennis.
Now back training full-time with the American Whu-Hitsu team, Davis has already taken his first fight of the year and is looking forward to continuing his success at this weekend’s ACF event against Daniel Betzold.
“Pretty much just preparation as usual,” said Dennis of his training for this fight. “I don’t know much about him, but I looked him up on the Internet and saw his record. I know he trains where Joe Riggs used to train, and I know most of his fights are in Rage in the Cage. In most of those organizations, when you’re on the ground you have to slap [use open-handed strikes instead of closed fists], so I’m not sure if he’s used to ground and pound. I’m basically going to go out and do what I do.”
If everything goes his way this weekend, Davis hopes to continue building momentum for the remainder of the year, culminating in the UFC debut that he has anticipated for so long.
“As far as activity goes, I want to stay busy,” explained Dennis. “If you don’t stay busy, you get side-tracked, so I want to fight at least once a month, or month-and-a- half. I’m going to pick good organizations and opponents. One of the biggest things I’ve been lacking is that I haven’t had too many top-level guys to fight. I’m a dangerous fight for top-level guys, so I’m just trying to get them to fight me.”
Davis further commented, “Obviously, I’m looking for that UFC shot, and all I have to do is keep winning. If I do that, there’s no way I can’t get in. If that doesn’t come, there are a lot of places like Pride, StrikeForce, K-1, IFL… I just want to fight at the top level. That’s my goal.”
Dennis closed out the conversation by thanking those who have been helping him this year, and by sending a message to the fans in Colorado.
“I’d like to thank Jason Winters Vitamins & Supplements and Sprawl fight gear. Those guys have been helping me out and allowing me to train. Thanks to all my training partners here in Utah… Melissa Keizer, James Cottrell, Kavika, and everyone that’s been helping me out. I hope all the fans out in Colorado enjoy my fight. In the Northwest, I’m known as an exciting fighter and nothing’s changed. I’m coming out, being explosive like I always am, and win or lose, the fight is going to be exciting.”