Marcus Davis admits his professional aspirations has changed as his career has evolved through first a boxing career and now as a veteran in the mixed martial arts ranks.
But at age 38, the Bangor resident is still realizing some of those goals — and will so again Friday night when he steps into the MMA cage for the first time in his home state against Travis “Iron Chin” Coyle as the headline attraction of Global Fight League 13 at the Portland Expo.
“As a boy growing up I wanted to be a professional boxer and fighter,” said Davis, who will fight Coyle in a welterweight (170-pound) matchup. “One of my goals was to fight in Ireland, which I got to do as an MMA fighter.
“As I’ve gotten older I’ve set other goals. I wanted to get the sport sanctioned in the state and we’ve done that, and I wanted to be able to fight in my home state, and now I’ll get to do that Friday night.”
The bout will be the third for Davis, known as “The Irish Hand Grenade,” since he was released by the Ultimate Fighting Championship early this year after a knockout loss to Jeremy Stephens. He’s won two straight bouts by unanimous decision, most recently a three-round verdict over Pete Spratt in Edmonton, Alberta, on June 10.
“He was the longest reigning World Kickboxing Association champion, he held that title for 11 years,” said Davis, who has an overall mixed martial arts record of 19-8. “A lot of people thought I wouldn’t stand with him and that I’d just try to wrestle him, and I did that during the second round to secure the round. But I also outdid him on our feet in the other rounds.
“It was just what I needed.”
Davis’ next opponent is considered a promising prospect who has designs on competing in the UFC, considered the top league for mixed martial arts.
The Denver, Colo.-based Coyle (10-5) has won eight of his last nine fights, including seven by submission.
When offered the chance to fight Davis, the recently married Coyle postponed his honeymoon in order to be available for the Portland card.
“He’s a wrestling/jiu-jitsu guy, a polar opposite from me, so it will be a battle of different styles,” said Davis. “He’s very confident, but I look at him as like a kid playing basketball at the YMCA who thinks he can play in the NBA with the professionals, but I’m planning to show the kid how much of a difference experience makes.”
Davis was a vocal leader in the work to get mixed martial arts sanctioned in Maine, a five-year effort that gained approval by the Legislature in 2009.
He also co-promoted one of the state’s first MMA cards April 30 at the Stevens Avenue Armory in Portland, and will have eight of Team Irish competitors who train at Davis’ gyms in Brewer and Portland competing as amateurs on Friday night’s card.
“There are a lot of expenses involved in competing as an amateurs, so many medicals and the travel,” said Davis. “This is a great chance for them to get some experience close to home, and we’ve had some businesses that stepped up to help support them — Quirk Auto, Showcase Homes and Telford Aviation. They’ve really helped out.”
While Davis is looking forward to his bout with Coyle, he already has another match on his schedule against Massachusetts veteran Chuck O’Neil as part of the W-1 Reloaded card scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami, Fla. O’Neil (9-4) already owns a victory over Coyle, having won by submission on March 15, 2008.
The Davis-O’Neil match is scheduled to be televised nationally by Fox Sports Net.
For tickets to the Sept. 23 cart in Portland, access www.fightmaine.com.