by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
Sometimes all a fighter needs is something like a change in weight class to jumpstart an ailing career and put it back on the right track. Dennis “The Piranha” Davis is one of those fighters.

After years at lightweight, this former Team Quest member and current Xtreme Couture fighter decided it was time to make the move down to the newly successful 145-pound weight class, and he hasn’t looked back.

Having won three fights in a row, after a close split decision loss to Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter Luke Caudillo in April, Davis looks to continue his rise up the 145-pound rankings as he returns to Steele Cage Promotions’ International Fighting Organization show this Friday, Dec. 28 in Las Vegas.

“So far it’s been great,” said Davis of his move down to 145 pounds. “For once in my career I get to fight guys my size, or maybe even have a little bit of a size advantage, and I’ve never had that.

“Before I was shooting in on guys and barely pick them up to dump them, but now I’m picking them six feet in the air and dumping them on their head, so I definitely feel a lot stronger.”

At the Steele Cage/IFO event Davis was originally scheduled to face L.C. Davis, who dropped out to face Wagnney Fabiano for the International Fight League 145-pound divisional championship a day later in Connecticut. So instead, he is now scheduled to match-up with Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Reynaldo Duarte.

“I’ve seen video on him and he seems like he’s more of a pure jits tactician guy, so as soon as we go in I’m going to keep it on the feet and look to take him to where he’s uncomfortable,” commented Davis. “And then if it goes to the ground, no big deal, I’ve tapped black belts out before.

“If they’re more of a black belt that hasn’t trained MMA, you elbow them in the face a couple of times and suddenly they’re a purple belt. So I don’t have a problem going to the ground, but this fight I’m looking to stuff his shots and try to get another KO on my record.”

Should he do well against Duarte, the fight could cap off a year that started out shaky, but has turned around to be highly successful.

“I think the year went pretty good. I just had the one loss to Luke Caudillo,” said Davis. “The one thing I wish I had was a warm-up fight before that, because I had a long lay off before it. I fought (Nate) Diaz, and then it was nine months layoff from Diaz to Luke.

“And then, Luke was huge too, so, it would have been nice to maybe move down before I fought Luke or at least had a warm-up fight so I wouldn’t have been so rusty in the fight. But aside from that fight, all the other ones went as planned. I did great in those.”

Davis attributes his recent success to his rededication to the sport and an overhaul of his fighting philosophy.

“I feel a lot more experienced and smarter. A couple years ago I would have screwed around and not taken things so seriously,” he admitted. “I wasn’t being a professional. Now I’m focused and taking it more seriously.

“Instead of it being something for fun and screwing around, it’s my job. So I’ve got to show up in shape and be ready. So as a fighter I’ve grown up in that way.”

If he can finish out the year strong, he feels that the opportunities in other established promotions that eluded him for years could be right around the corner.

“Well, I actually just signed a deal with the IFL for a fight,” revealed Davis. “They’ve got a show coming up in February, and they just added the 145 (pound division) and so I’m fight for them and see how that goes.

“It’s just a one-fight type of deal and see how I do, and if I win they might extend my contract. I’d definitely like to fight in (World Extreme Cagefighting) as well. The WEC has pretty much the best 145 guys around, that’s where they’re going, so I just want to fight the best guys out there and see where it goes.”

But in order to get those opportunities, he must continue to win and not falter as he has in the past, starting with this Friday’s showdown with Reynaldo Duarte in Las Vegas.

“I just want to thank my sponsors, Renegade Fight Gear, Jason Winters Vitamins & Supplements, Broken Leash, Couture Nutrition, and everybody down at Xtreme Couture for helping me out,” closed out Dennis.

“I’d just like everybody come out and check out the IFO/Steele Cage on the 28th. Just like my last fight for them, I’m going to put on a show; you’ll always see the Fight of the Night from me and I’m looking to put him on the canvas seeing some birds.”