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Phil Davis: Leaving UFC for Bellator MMA was a business decision, not personal

Jason da Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, it was revealed that former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight contender, Phil Davis, jumped ship to join rival mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion Bellator MMA.

Get all the details here.

The news caught many off guard, as "Mr. Wonderful" had long been one of the brightest stars in the division and had a healthy relationship with the ZUFFA higher-ups. Davis also carried a 4-2 record in his last six outings inside the Octagon, so his departure was not performance-based.

That's according to Phil himself, who revealed on The MMA Hour that jumping ship had nothing to do with any kind of beef with promotion president Dana White. Instead, he called his decision a businesses move, not a personal one.

"It's like anything, fighting is a job for me. I love it, but at the same time, it is what pays the bills. It wasn't like I wanted to get away from UFC, not at all. I absolutely love everybody at UFC. I thank Dana and Lorenzo for giving me my big break in MMA and giving me a chance to fight on the big stage. I have nothing but gratitude to express for those guys. I would have liked to sign a big contract and stay with UFC, sure, that was my first option. But as more options became available, I went with other options. It's hard to look at it emotionally. I am looking at it as a business move. There is probably no one out there, when offered a better opportunity that says, 'No, I'll stick with what I'm used to.'"

Davis did admit that the offer UFC gave him was comparable, but not what he wanted. Still, he leaves the company he's called home for the last five years on good terms.

"This is not a parting of ways where it's like, 'I hate you, you hate me and I am out of here' or an 'I quit' type of deal. Not at all. The guys at UFC are businessmen and they are running an organization. Same thing with me, I am a businessman and I run my own business."

Davis revealed that prior to his fight against Ryan Bader at UFC on FOX 14, he was offered a contract extension by UFC, but opted to decline the offer as a form of betting on himself in hopes of getting a better deal with a win over "Darth."


Even after losing to Bader, Davis says the same offer was still on the table, but he chose to sign with Bellator instead. Without going into too much detail, Phil revealed that the deal offered to him by the Viacom-owned promotion was ultimately better than the one his former employer offered him.

So in the end, jumping ship was a no-brainer.

And while UFC is undoubtedly the bigger promotion, at the end of the day, no one can blame Davis for moving to a smaller company for more money to be able to support himself and his family a bit better.

Because when it's all said and done, Davis -- just like every other pro fighter -- fights for money.

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