Back in 2018, Phil Davis was working to get back to the light heavyweight title he used to hold but suffered a split decision loss to Vadim Nemkov at Bellator 209. Since their first meeting, Davis has gone on a three-fight winning streak, the second-longest in the division, second only to, Nemkov, who is now the defending champion and riding a five-fight winning streak.
The two will run it back in the quarterfinals of the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix with the title on the line, as well as a chance to advance in the tournament for the belt and the $1 million grand prize.
Phil Davis on being the champion again
Prior to the rematch against Nemkov, Davis met with the media and spoke about his journey back to the title, being on the second-longest active win streak in the division (Nemkov is first), and why he believes now is the perfect time for a rematch against the champion.
"I look back at that loss and I never wish I would lose but at the same time I do feel like it adds a little bit more theatrics to this moment and how sweet it'll be to win the belt from a very close decision in such an amazing light heavyweight tournament.
Heading into the fight against Nemkov and truthfully all of his fights throughout his career, Phil Davis tends to leave the emotional side out of the picture because he sees it as a job. With him approaching his next shift on the job, he has an opportunity to avenge a loss to the champion, but he also has the chance to get his belt back after losing it four years ago, and that's where his mind is at.
"Belt back. To me, that's an emotional question and I'm very non-emotional about fighting at all. It's a job and I do it because it's fun, and I'm about being the champion.
Revenge and beyond for "Mr. Wonderful"
With his focus solely on getting the belt he once held back into his possession, Phil Davis presents a real challenge for Nemkov. A true veteran of the sport, Davis has never been finished or submitted throughout his professional career, and while Nemkov won the title with a spectacular TKO victory over Ryan Bader, Davis won't be the same opponent. The wrestling for Davis will be key as he's a former All-American Division I wrestling champion and has used that skill set to get him to the light heavyweight title in the past and make him one of the toughest fighters for his opponents to face throughout his career.
Vadim Nemkov certainly can hold his own in the fight against Davis, he's only suffered two losses in his professional career, but this fight will be the first defense of his Bellator title, something Davis has had previous experience with. Nemkov has the power and pressure to change the fight at any moment, but if he doesn't shut the lights out on Davis early, he could be in for a long night.
After the fight, the question stands: what's next for Phil Davis? If he becomes champion then the short answer is simple, work his way through the tournament and getting the grand prize of holding the title and $1 million in prize money, but how does he get there? Beating Nemkov will be no easy task, but then if he wins, Davis will have to face either Anthony Johnson or Yoel Romero, both of whom are extremely tough competitors and will make it must-see TV. Finally, there will be a finals matchup and if Davis gets out of the tournament as the winner, where will he want to take his career from there?
Bellator 257's main event can't be missed on Friday and according to the former light heavyweight champion Phil Davis, himself, the rematch against Vadim Nemkov couldn't be happening at a more perfect time.