Bellator’s Mr Wonderful: Phil Davis

We catch up with Phil Davis, AKA Mr Wonderful and find out how he got into MMA

What got you interested in wrestling?

When I was a kid, I had one friend. He told me one day that he wanted to try out wrestling and asked if I could go along to support him. I went and was sitting at the side when the coach came over to pull me into practice. I told him that I was just there to watch, but he wouldn’t have it. He said I had to wrestle if I was there, so in I went with jeans and a t-shirt.

It was my brother’s shirt and it got ruined. I was dreading going home. When I got home, I talked to my mom and she told me to stick it out and see if I liked wrestling. I went back on the Thursday and the Friday. I just forgot to quit.

Looking back, I was just being a friend and it took me in a life-changing direction. It shows that you never know what will happen from an act of kindness.

Did you begin to contemplate an MMA career when you were wrestling at Penn State?

I was recruited to Penn by Josh Koscheck, a wrestler who made the crossover to MMA before me. I started training Jiu Jitsu in the summer between my Junior and Senior Year. The BJJ coach understood that I was a wrestler and worked with my existing skill set, rather than try to change my whole game, allowing me to work submissions from the top. I used to watch the UFC with college buddies and the more I watched, the less scary it seemed and the more I started to think that it was something I could do. I saw it was a sport, rather than something brutal. That is something that I still share with people today. The old ladies who go to my church have slowly come around to being fans. I take great joy in people enjoying MMA for the sport that it is.

Did you ever have any doubts?

I have never had any doubts. First, I was blessed with early success. Second, when I want something, I work for it. I believe in hard work and sacrifice – I want to earn it.

What is the highlight of your career?

Winning the Bellator title. That was definitely a big moment for me.

What is your motivation?

I am driven by self-exploration, by wanting to be the best I can be. I love what I do. I like to guard my interests and motivation and stay internally motivated. If you are motivated by something external, then you can lose it. I want to be the best me and I constantly check and make sure I am improving. The biggest compliment for me is when a team mate tells me how they always used to get me with a technique, but now they can’t pull it off because I know how to deal with it.

What lies ahead for Mr Wonderful?

I just love the sport. I love the big fights, I love any fight. I will take it as it comes.

Tom Billinge Tom is the Editor of Revgear Sports and the founder of WarYoga. He is a 10th Planet purple belt and a Muay Thai Kru having spent over two decades in the sport in Thailand and around the world. Tom has trained Lethwei in Myanmar, Kushti wrestling in India, Zurkhaneh sports in Iran, boxing throughout Europe, and catch wrestling in the USA. Tom also resurrected the ancient techniques of traditional British bareknuckle pugilism from archaic manuals.