BANGOR, Maine — Marcus Davis feels like his mixed martial arts career has gained its second wind in recent months.
Good health has returned, and a three-round decision victory over David Bielkheden in Malmo, Sweden, last October after a year away from MMA competition has bolstered his confidence.
But at age 39, the Bangor resident known as “The Irish Hand Grenade” understands his competitive career is gradually approaching its end, so he’s seeking to make the most of the later stages of his career in the cage.
That begins Thursday night, when the former UFC competitor makes his Bellator debut as part a nationally televised card to be held at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.
The Bellator 93 card will be highlighted by the promotion’s lightweight (155-pound) tournament final between veteran Dave Jansen (18-2) and 21-year-old Polish phenom Marcin Held (15-2).
Davis (21-9) will face Waachiim Spiritwolf (9-11-1) of San Diego, Calif., in a welterweight (170-pound) bout, while two heavyweight battles matching Travis Wiuff (68-15) against Ryan Martinez (8-2) and Eric Prindle (9-3) against Brett Rogers (12-5) round out the four bouts on the 11-fight card that will be broadcast live on Spike TV between 10 p.m. and midnight.
The matchup against Spiritwolf not only is the first fight of a three-bout deal Davis has signed with Bellator — the nation’s second-largest MMA promotion behind the UFC — but also the kickoff of a busy few months of competition for the Houlton native.
Davis is slated to return to Lewiston on May 18 to compete on the next New England Fights promotion, then is scheduled to fight in Kansas City, Kan., in late June as part of a Team USA vs. Team UK (United Kingdom) competition.
“I’m feeling really healthy right now, as healthy as I’ve been in a long time, and I want to take advantage of it,” said Davis.
That quest begins against the 37-year-old Spiritwolf, who has lost six of his last eight fights.
“I’ve been getting some feedback that I’m actually the underdog in this fight,” said Davis. “There’s one poll where 62 percent of the people think he will win, but it is what it is. It doesn’t matter what anybody says in a poll, what matters is who shows up on the night of the fight.”
Spiritwolf has six knockouts among his victories, providing evidence of his punching power.
“He’s very tough and he comes to fight,” said Davis. “Every time he throws a punch he throws it to knock you out. He’s a very aggressive fighter.”
But Davis suggests he is in perhaps the best physical condition of his career.
“Right now I’m better than I was when I was fighting in the UFC,” he said. “And if I show up for the fight as good as I was in the UFC, I’ll beat this kid.”
Among the fighters on the undercard, which begins at 7:30 p.m. and is available to watch via free live streaming at Spike.com, is Jon Lemke, who trains at Davis’ Team Irish Fitness Academy in Brewer.
Lemke (1-0) will take on Auburn’s Jesse Erickson (0-0) in a lightweight bout.
“Jon Lemke is ready to go,” said Davis. “He’s looked fantastic in camp.”
Another welterweight bout will pit “The” Ryan Sanders (4-3) of Young’s MMA in Bangor against British kickboxing specialist Michael “Venom” Page (3-0), while 4-0 Mike Mucitelli, the top-ranked light heavyweight in the region, according to NortheastMMA.net, will face Brent “Frosty” Dillingham of Auburn, who will be making his pro debut after going undefeated in four amateur bouts.
Three middleweight (185-pound) fights also are on the undercard, with Pierre Pierry (3-2) against Joe Pacheco (5-0), Jason Butcher (5-0) against Jack Hermansson (5-1) and Rumford’s Jesse Peterson (7-2) facing Dave Vitkay (11-12).
John “First Class” Raio (0-2) of Topsham will attempt to score his first pro victory when he faces Vince Murdock (1-0) in a featherweight (145-pound) fight.