With Contract Expired, Phil Davis Is Now A Free Agent

Phil Davis on rematch with champion Vadim Nemkov: “He wants that fight”

Phil Davis has a hunch the current Bellator light heavyweight champion wants a rematch.

Davis earned a split-decision win over former UFC champion Lyoto Machida in the Bellator 245 headliner on Friday, Sept. 11. It marked a two-fight sweep for the former Penn State wrestler, who earned a unanimous-decision nod against Machida back at UFC 163 in August 2013.

During the Bellator 245 post-fight press conference, Davis expressed his interest in running it back with current 205-pound champion Vadim Nemkov. He lost via split decision to the Russian at Bellator 209 in November 2018.  “Mr. Wonderful” is confident Nemkov wants the rematch too. 

“He can fight whoever he wants to fight, but I know deep down inside, a champion wants to fight that guy who was right on his [expletive,” Davis said. 

“I want that fight and I know he wants that fight.”

Davis beat Machida at his own game. Davis got the better of the striking exchanges in rounds one and two. 

The 35-year-old also used a technique from the pairs first meeting, finding a home for a teep kick against Machida. Machida turned it up in the third round, but Davis already accomplished enough to earn the decision nod from two out of the three judges.

“It’s all about angles and footworks. What Machida does unbelievably well is when guys neglect to understand the angles or they get too frustrated and rush in… He has a wide range range things that he does when he catches you coming in out of position,” Davis said. “For me, it was just getting the corner, getting around the outside of his lead leg and then staying as busy as I can”

Just three weeks prior at Bellator 244 in August, Nemkov knocked out Ryan Bader in the second round to win the Bellator light-heavyweight championship. Nemkov finished six of his last seven opponents. Davis is the only one of those opponents to take Nemkov to the judge’s scorecards.

A lot changed for Davis and Machida in the seven years separating their two meetings. It’s been just a little less than two years since Davis dropped a split decision to Nemkov.

The Pennsylvania native rattled off three-straight wins since then, beating Liam McGeary, Karl Albrektsson and Machida. Not too much has changed for Davis since losing to Nemkov, but the former Belaltor champion sees his game plan changing if the two meet again.

“I’m definitely better, but nothing crazy,” Davis said. “What I would look to do with Mr. Nemkov is to be in the absolute tippy-top best shape of my life, working on winning the first round at all cost. I know I can outlast all my opponents, I just need to put the exclamation point on all my performances.”

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