Phil "Mr.Wonderful" Davis opened up on a controversial deal with Bellator in an interview with ESPN Unfiltered MMA. Radio host Lori Miller and UFC legend, Chris Leben took the opportunity to chat with light heavyweight fighter on his recent contract with Bellator. The three were joined in the studio by Bellator lightweight fighter, Ian Butler, and Und1sputed bantamweight fighter, Aaron Peet. For more from this interview with Phil Davis and all things MMA check out ESPN's Unfiltered MMA Radio.
UFC today has morphed into a monopoly that controls the market. Since they are the biggest name in fighting, they can set the price they offer with little to no competition. Unlike most fighters, Phil Davis waited out the 60 days after his most recent loss against Ryan Bader and ended his restricted free agency period. Meaning any organization could make him an offer. Rather than sign UFC's canned deal, he decided to explore the market for more profitable options.
Ranked #7 in UFC, Phil is a Former Penn State wrestler who uses strategy and intelligent tactics of wrestling as a fighting advantage. With a competitive offer from Bellator in hand, Davis attempted to get a counter offer out of UFC, but was unsuccessful. UFC refused to match Bellator's offer sending a pointed "take it or leave it" message. Phil left!
He went against the current and made the game-changing move from UFC to Bellator. This was significant for the MMA community, as he gave up the big UFC name to fight for a smaller promotion.
"Somebody's gotta be the first person to say, 'leave it,'" said Phil.
As Leben put it, there's so few companies to choose from and so many more fighters, that it's harder on the fighters when sponsors have to pay the UFC first. There is an additonal UFC sponsor tax and other obstacles, before the fighter sees any of the money. "I mean," he added, "it really cuts down on that supply and demand." UFC's recent decision about sponsorships is a noteable downfall that hasn't set well with many fighters. As of late 2014, the UFC accounced that fighters were to be exclusively sponsored by Reebok. Since most fighters count on multiple sponsorships as their main source of income, this was a huge deal.
Unlike the UFC, Bellator allows their fighters more freedom when it comes to sponsorships. Fighters are allowed to hang up their sponsors banners and don't have the same Reebok branding restrictions. As a fighter sponsored by Affliction, Phil made the most profitable decision: to go with Bellator.
Although there are no dates set for Mr.Wonderful's first fight with Bellator, we are getting pumped just thinking about possible opponents.....hmmm...Rampage? Tito? Newton? Who would you like to see in a cage with Mr.Wonderful?