Bellator 219: “Awad vs. Girtz” takes place at Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, Calif., this upcoming Friday night (March 29, 2019), as Lightweight fighters take the spotlight when Saad Awad (23-10) faces the bloodthirsty Brandon Girtz (15-8) in what is sure to be a pure striking exchange.
Undefeated prospect Joey Davis (4-0) — a former Notre Dame College of Ohio wrestler who became the first-ever in NCAA Division II history to end his entire career undefeated — is likely to deliver similarly scintillating action when he locks horns with Marcus Anthony. Indeed, the collegiate phenom won four amateur mixed martial arts (MMA) titles in four weight classes before turning professional, and since then has finished 50 percent of his fights with highlight-reel elbows and kicks.
Davis recently spoke with MMAmania.com about his Welterweight bout this weekend, as well as the potential to be promoted onto a future main card broadcast if he remains undefeated and delivers another sensational finish.
“It’s just a privilege. I’m happy that Bellator found me, wanted me to be part of the organization as (part of the) ‘Fab Five’. It’s just truly an honor to be competing again. Not too many people get to be in the position to be a professional fighter, so I’m just truly honored.”
Reports prior to this interview suggested Jesse Merritt (5-5) would be the opponent for Davis on this card. On the call with MMAmania.com, though, Davis was unsure that’s who he’d face.
“Well if I even fight Jesse Merritt! I don’t know who my opponent is at this moment. I just hope that the guy (I face) is in shape, so that we can put on a show for the fans, that’s all I can really say. I know my abilities and what I’m capable of doing, and I know I can rock the bell, so I’m just hoping that whoever I’m competing against that they come prepared.”
Putting it generously Merritt may not have been the BEST opponent Davis could have faced on this card. He had lost four of his last five including his promotional debut at Bellator 214.
“The first time I supposedly was on the card when I knew I was going to get on the card it was Jesse Merritt, and I was getting prepared for that. I guess my coach told me that he didn’t want to take the fight and I honestly don’t blame the guy. It’s probably not a good fight for his career. At the end of the day a man gotta do what they gotta do.”
Needless to say Davis was perplexed given we were interviewing him and he didn’t even know what to expect on Friday night.
“I just haven’t heard that that would be my opponent at this time. I’ve been hearing that I have multiple opponents that have backed down, or who do want the challenge, so as of right now I’m just (*chuckling*) just waiting for an opponent to be honest with you.”
MMA Mania received word shortly before we went to press than Marcus Anthony (1-0) would be Davis’ opponent at Bellator 219. How did Davis prepare for his next fight in Bellator without even knowing who it was?
“Simple. You stay ready! Once you’re a professional fighter it’s a life, it’s a life long journey. It’s an every day grind, it’s an every day struggle. That’s how I’m preparing myself, and um, that’s been my method.”
Since his Bellator debut Davis has been a hot commodity out of Team BodyShop, but other fighters in the crew like “Baby Slice” and Aaron Pico have struggled of late. I asked Davis how the team is handling adversity.
“It’s just that our team is really new, we’re still young, we’re still hungry, so it’s just a good thing for me to be a part of. I’m young, I’m 25 years old, I’m 4-0 as a professional. Even with Antonio’s son A.J. McKee who’s 13-0 we’re still young. You’ve got ‘Slice’ who is young as well, and it seems whatever is in line for him is gonna come pretty soon and he’s gonna do well with his career. He’s already doing things outside of the gym, being a leader outside of the gym. Those are things I really look at. I don’t really look at what people do inside of the cage because it’s two men out there that just really want to win a fight. What matters is what you do outside the cage or after you win that matters to me the most.”
Obviously those setbacks have not affected Davis’ mindset or that of the team as a whole. I asked Davis if he knows what’s next for him after he gets his fight at Bellator 219.
“That’s not for me to determine. I just know that I’m going to get back in the gym, win or lose, and keep grinding like I’ve been doing my whole life. It’s just something I like to do. I love to test my abilities, I love to see where I can be, I love to see the outcome of my training. I just — I love to hear good news when I’m training, I love it all. I’m just thankful that I can be part of a professional organization like Bellator that gave me the time of the day.”
As for that fight at Bellator 219, I asked Davis if there was anyone in particular he wanted to face in the future or that Bellator is eyeing up for him to face.
“I was told that it could be a guy named Dearmine Street, a guy from Detroit, Michigan. That’s all I know for right now. I can’t even really pronounce it. From watching it he’s very explosive, very strong, athletic — all things that I really need to watch out for. It’s a fight at the end of the day, you never know what’s going to happen. Yeah the guy seems very talented, seems like he will do anything to win, and those are the worst type of guys to fight.”
For right now though its all about Joey Davis vs. Marcus Anthony on Friday night at Pechanga Resort & Casino live on Paramount Network.
Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of “Awad vs. Girtz” 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.