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Phil Davis is tired of waiting for Ryan Bader, happy to fight Karl Albrektsson at Bellator 231

Phil Davis interview

Bellator 231: “Mir vs. Nelson 2” airs from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., tomorrow night (Fri., Oct. 25, 2019), featuring a main event between Frank Mir (18-13) and “Big Country” Roy Nelson (23-17), revisiting a war from almost a decade ago when they fought at UFC 130.

Nelson will look to avenge a loss from that prior meeting, but there are no such stakes for “Mr. Wonderful” Phil Davis (20-5, 1 NC), who collides with “King” Karl Albrektsson (9-2) in the co-main event of the evening. In fact, one could ask the question out loud, “What does a win do for Davis in this division?” Meanwhile, Albrektsson seems to have far more to gain in this fight. The majority of his career has been spent in Rizin thus far, and of the only common opponent between the two, Albrektsson holds a career win over Vadim Nemkov while Davis does not. That puts Davis in a really awkward divisional position if he takes a loss to both men. recently spoke with “Mr. Wonderful” about the reason(s) he’s taking this risk at this point in time and how it could help him get a rematch with Nemkov ... or perhaps even Ryan Bader.

“Why not? I think whenever there’s new people to the organization, I think they always try to give them a nice welcome — a warm welcome, you know? So I think this is the perfect fight for him coming in.”

In case you’re confused, Davis wants to “welcome” Albrektsson with a loss, although he’s little concerned that Albrektsson has a win over Nemkov coming in.

“Oh absolutely! The truth of the matter is, every ‘W’ is a vote for the title. That (common opponent) could work in my favor, but I mean MMA math is not linear. One plus one isn’t always two. You know, styles make match ups and I’m just down to mix it up with everybody.”

Davis hasn’t forgotten about his split decision loss, though. With or without Albrektsson in Nemkov is still on his mind as a fight he needs to avenge even as Nemkov keeps knocking off former champions.

“I have (the Carvalho) fight on the app, I didn’t get a chance to watch it (in full) yet, but I saw the highlights. You know it’s extremely tough moving up from 185 to 205, it’s a big jump, big guys. I’m interested to see how he looked in the grappling before he got submitted and what the stand up exchanges looked like. He’s a tough cat and he’s a great talent so I expect him to do well (after this).”

Regardless of how Carvalho will fare in the future, Davis has Albrektsson to think about in the present, a fighter who he was given no advanced warning about prior to his signing.

“I actually had no idea he was coming to Bellator, but I know Bellator is committed to putting on great fights and getting some of the best fighters (from) all over the world, so it doesn’t surprise me that he’s one of the people who they had in mind (for me).”

Albrektsson is at least his equal in height (6’2”) if not overall experience, and as “Mr. Wonderful” is fond of saying, “styles make fights,” so the Swede’s four knockouts and three submissions make him a stylistically well-rounded opponent.

“Absolutely! It’s time like this that I sit back and I remember what it’s like to be a younger fighter coming up, and how hard I want to push myself to make sure I’m prepared for him trying to make a name for himself on the big stage.”

And as styles go, fellow Penn State University alum Ed Ruth has a tough fight on the main card against Jason Jackson. Davis talked a bit about the tough loss Ruth recently had to Neiman Gracie.

“He was in like three triangles, but it’s not a matter of what things did you see he could have done better — what makes (Ruth) great is that he doesn’t follow a specific plan or a dedicated mold. He’s very very unpredictable and that’s what makes him great. Obviously there’s things you want to avoid and positions that you want to improve on but as a whole I think he’s got to learn it’s artwork at the end of the day. He’s got to take what he wants to do in his mind’s eye and make it come to life inside the cage, and that’s what I know he can do.”

Getting back to Albrektsson though, I asked Davis if he had done any unique preparation for “King” Karl ahead of this Bellator 231 fight.

“Really for me it’s just fine-tuning, making sure that I can’t lose the positions I do best in. So it’s making sure that I improve all of my positions and close up any holes (I have) and really get a faster start (in the fight). That’s something I’ve been working on.”

If he can plug up all those holes, Davis is sure that he can beat Ryan Bader in a trilogy fight and get the Light Heavyweight title back. First, though, Bader has to come back to defend it.

“Right! There’s not much I can do about that but, you beat somebody up and (then) hopefully Bader will fight the next guy in line. I would love for it to be myself versus Vadim first, but it’s already been ... he’s been absent without a title defense for quite some time so I wouldn’t be opposed either way.”

He may not mind if Nemkov faces Bader ahead of him, but he’s certainly not training like someone who wants to wait on the sidelines for anybody.

“Aw yeah, I occasionally like to eat, and then I’ll sleep, and then... and then I’ll get right back to training!”

Perhaps that will be a new Phil Davis t-shirt to rival Brock Lesnar’s merchandise: “Eat, sleep, TRAIN, repeat.” Or perhaps after Karl Albrektsson it will be “Eat, sleep, WIN, repeat.”

Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of Bellator 231: “Mir vs. Nelson 2” resides here at MMA Mania all week long.

To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.

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