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SAN JOSE, Calif. – Phil Davis is back in the win column, and he’s proud of the performance that got him there.
A former light heavyweight champion, Davis (23-6 MMA, 10-3 BMMA) defeated former UFC middleweight title challenger Yoel Romero (13-6 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) by split decision Saturday at Bellator 266.
“I’m very exhausted,” Davis told MMA Junkie at a post-fight news conference. “It’s weird. (Romero) sets an interesting tempo. He has lots of movement, lots of feints, everything power. My boxing coach would always say, ‘You’ve got to take some punches just to keep him honest.’ Nothing keeps you honest. He’s all power, all business.”
The first half of the fight was competitive, though at times the action stalled. The tempo was often arrhythmic with Romero moving oddly before he’d explode into a lone strike or combination. As the clock wound down in Round 2, Davis decided it was time to resort to his wrestling – an area of the battle that fight fans anticipated entering the bout.
“I saw he was super sweaty, and I was like, ‘Man, I might have missed my window,'” Davis said. “That was one of my takeaways from the Nemkov fight. I went to wrestling too late in the fight, and we were both way too sweaty. I saw that and I was like, ‘Alright, it’s going to have to be the perfect shot to really penetrate and get in deep on a guy like that.’ He has hips for days. He’s very athletic and turns his hips. He’ll get out of any bad shots, so I really had to make sure I got it good.”
Despite being from California, Davis wasn’t the main event fighter who received the loudest cheers upon the walkouts. But by the end, the fans applauded his successful efforts in an unusually paced matchup.
“It’s been a while since I had one of those, not since competing down in Brazil three times or being a wrestler and wrestling at Carver Hawkeye Arena,” Davis said. “Not too often do I hear everybody cheering for the other guy. It was good to be the bad guy for a while.”
Check out Davis’ full post-fight news conference in the video above.