Bangor resident Marcus Davis will return to his homeland away from home this week for another Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight fight.
Seven months after beating Jason Tan by submission in Belfast — Ireland, not Maine — Davis returns to the land of his forefathers for UFC 93 and a clash with veteran mixed martial arts fighter Chris Lytle, this time in Dublin.
This will be Davis’ sixth straight UFC fight and seventh overall in the United Kingdom, and the natives are taking notice as he tries to notch the eighth win in his last nine UFC fights.
“That’s my biggest fan base. It’s going to be crazy going back over,” Davis said. “I was just talking to a guy from the Irish Post. There are 20 guys from Ireland that follow me around to all my fights.”
The Davis-Lytle fight will lead off the undercard for UFC 93, headlined by the Rich Franklin-Dan Henderson bout. The five-card televised event will air locally on a tape-delay basis at 10 p.m., Jan. 17. Bleechers’ sports bar in Bangor airs all UFC fights.
Davis, whose record in MMA fights is 20-5 (7-2 in UFC), has been at Mark DellaGrotte’s Sit Yod Tong Boston studio since Dec. 14 training full-time for this fight.
“Except for three days to spend with my family at Christmas, I’m there,” he said. “I literally eat, sleep and fight here all the time. I have a little, tiny room with a fridge, stove, sink, bed, and a tiny TV. No distractions.”
Davis, 35, has been learning a new style of mixed martial arts fighting called Yod Tong for the last 10 weeks. He has also been working with UFC fighter Kenny Florian on his footwork and vertical fighting style. He says both will help him greatly against the 34-year-old Lytle, who is 36-16-4.
“The difference between this one and my last one [Oct. 18] is the last opponent was a real tough guy and good puncher. I wanted to stay away from him and make him reach and then get in and choke him out, which is what I did,” Davis explained. “Chris is more of a loopy fighter and boxer, and I just want to wait him out and blitz him when we’re in tight quarters.”
“He’s never been submitted ever. I’m not going to fight him on the ground,” Davis continued. “I want him standing up, and I want to work on my takedown defense with wrestlers as well. If he’s on his back and I’m inside his guard, he’s got what seems like double-jointed hips, so I don’t want to be there.”
For fans wishing to see a couple of Davis’ past fights, the Spike Network is replaying his fight against Jason Tan at 9 p.m. and his fight against Paul Taylor at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 13.
This is the first of four bouts Davis recently signed to fight with UFC. When fighters are getting anywhere from $2,000 to $100,000 to fight and double that amount or more to win, it has made Davis reformulate his plans, at least for the near future.
“I was thinking about retiring, but things are going really well and I feel like I’m continuing to get better. I think I’m ranked No. 6 in the UFC right now,” the 5-foot-10, 170-pound Davis said. “I’m one of the older fighters. I’m not the oldest, but I think I’m the oldest in the top 10. I don’t care. I’m beating up 21-year-olds in the gym.
“The secret is passion. I’m very passionate about what I do.”
The Houlton native, who was a pro boxer until retiring in 2000 with a 17-1-2 record, envisions four to eight more fights before retirement.
“At this point, I have to play it by how I feel. If I’m healthy, I’ll be fighting, but I’m not going to be one of those fighters who stays too long and becomes punch-drunk,” he said. “It’s important to me to be smart about it and to be there for my children. I even had an IQ test recently just to make sure I wasn’t losing my brain cells.”
Davis lives in Bangor with ex-wife and girlfriend Lara Cirulli and three of his four children.
“Yeah, I know it’s funny. I have to think about what to call her because we were divorced and now we’re back together,” Davis said. “My oldest daughter is out and in college. Life’s crazy right now.”
When he’s not busy with his children, Davis is running his Team Irish mixed martial arts school, which just opened its new facility in Brewer last November on Abbott Street, and another in Biddeford; serving as a commentator for World Championship Fighting and Elite Fighting Challenge; working on an autobiography, and looking into doing some acting.
“A lot of stuff changed for me after doing that Ultimate Fighter show,” said Davis, who lost the second welterweight elimination fight in season two of The Ultimate Fighter (2005). “A lot of doors are opening for me right now.”