Although he bills himself as “The Irish Hand Grenade,” Bangor’s Marcus Davis may be better suited to the moniker his latest opponent in the UFC octagon uses.
Jonathan Goulet, who goes by “The Road Warrior,” won’t have to spend much time on the road to get to Saturday’s UFC 113 undercard fight against Davis in Canada. Goulet is not only a native Canadian, he hails from Victoriaville, Quebec, not too far from the fight venue at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
Battling a hometown hero is nothing new for Davis. This is actually the sixth time he’ll face a native son fighting on his home turf.
“I always seem to fight guys in their hometowns, like U.S. Marine Shonie Carter at a Marine base,” said Davis. “I also fought [Liverpool, England, native] Paul Kelley in Birmingham, England; [Walsall, England, native] Paul Taylor in London; [Briton] Jess Liaudin in Newcastle, England; and [native Texan] Pete Spratt in Houston.”
The good news for Davis, whose overall UFC record is 21-7 after two straight losses, is he’s 5-0 in those hometown fights.
Davis’ welterweight fight may be shown during Saturday’s pay-per-view (10 p.m.) TV coverage, but may also be cut due to broadcast time constraints.
There’s much familiarity between the two combatants as they trained together a year ago, but while this is the fourth fight for Davis in the last 16 months, it’s Goulet’s first since Dec. 10, 2008.
“I won’t expect to see the same fighter I sparred with, but I know Jonathan quite well,” Davis said. “We’re very familiar with each other. This is the first time I’ve fought someone who’s so familiar with me.
They share another commonality: Each has lost to Mike Swick. Davis lost a unanimous decision June 7, 2008, and Goulet was knocked out in his last fight.
“He does have a slight reach advantage,” Davis said, “but I’m a lot faster than he is. I know I’ll be in his head a bit if he recalls our sparring sessions.”
Davis expects Goulet, known for being cool under fire and his strong knee attacks, to try and get him on the floor by using his advantages in height (6-foot-1) and reach against the 5-10 Davis. Both weigh 170.
“What I have to do is stay on the outside and sharpshoot this guy by being evasive and then diving in after he takes a shot,” said the lefthanded Davis. “He’ll try to take me down, so that’s when he’ll get on top and reversing his position and put him on his back.”
Goulet, now 22-10, took some time off from UFC and pondered retirement at one point, but now he’s back, saying he’s refocused and re-energized.
“At some point in this fight, I’m going to hit him on the chin, so the question is whether he’ll be able to take that,” said the 36-year-old Davis. “If he can’t, he’ll have to somehow keep me on the ground and grind out a decision or cut me. I think I’m a better wrestler and grappler.”
Davis said he’s altered his training regimen for this fight, practicing more boxing, sparring, and working on his wrestling and jiu-jitsu.
“I’ve had some problems moving from anyplace, from the side mount to the floor-mounted position,” Davis explained. “I’m built for speed on this fight.
“I’m nowhere near as big as I usually am. Normally I’m 185 and cut down for the event. This one, I won’t have to cut down at all.”
The question Davis must answer as he tries to put himself in position for another three-fight UFC contract is whether he’s learned from his last two losses, a knockout versus Ben Saunders in which Saunders pounded Davis close in with his knees and a controversial split decision to Dan Hardy.
“The problem in the last fight was I had a bad plan going in. I should have played the in-and-out game and used more footwork and movement,” Davis explained. “The first 10 minutes, I got cut open and I kind of panicked and wasn’t sure I could go the distance not knowing how much I was bleeding. I tried to go at him and came in too close.”
When you have just three, five-minute rounds, every second counts.
“I know anything can happen and I’ve made stupid mistakes thinking it’ll be an easy fight or whatever, and that’s when bad things happen,” he said.