While light-heavyweight Phil Davis was able to close out his 2017 with a win, it was his loss to start off the year that left a big impression on his career.
Defending his Bellator 205-pound championship against Ryan Bader in June of last year, Davis ended up on the losing end of a split-decision, costing him the title he had won in his previous bout.
“I’ve got to get that belt back,” Davis told MMAWeekly.com. “It was great to say that I was Phil Davis, the champion, the champion of the entire world, and I can’t do that right now.
For Davis, rebounding with a unanimous decision over Leo Leite in November was a sign that he’s very much still a title caliber fighter and that he’s not going away anytime soon.
“It all starts with getting that first win and getting back in the win column and getting your hand raised,” said Davis. “Really let the fans know that I was the top guy in the division for a reason and that I’m a guy who should be challenging for the belt.”
Davis (18-4) will look to keep his momentum going when he faces Linton Vassell (19-6) in a main card 205-pound bout at Bellator 200 in London on Friday.
“To get the win, I just have to stay focused and let (Vassell) know right away that this is not the match-up he thought it should be,” Davis said. “From there, it should be a slippery slope straight to getting my hand raised.”
While Davis is not setting a definitive timetable on when he feels he should get a chance to reclaim his title, he would like his opportunity to come sooner than later.
“I hope to get the belt back before year’s end, but it’s not my call,” said Davis. “I’m going to try my best to get that done.
“I want that belt back, I want it back yesterday – it’s that simple. If I have to wait, I’ll wait, but I want that bad boy back.”