Two of Bellator MMA’s best fighters have forgone mutual respect for bad blood after waiting more than year to meet.
Whether that bad blood is real or for show, Liam McGeary and Phil Davis will finally get to fight for McGeary’s light heavyweight title at Bellator 163 on Friday night at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut.
“I haven’t had a fight for a year – you’re in trouble, man,” McGeary said.
It’s been 14 months since Davis (16-3, 1 NC) first earned a shot at the belt by winning a one-night, four-man tournament at Bellator MMA & Glory: Dynamite 1, and the time since appears to have taken its toll on any relationship the fighters had.
Brooklyn’s McGeary (11-0) has not fought since that same September night over a year ago, submitting Tito Ortiz in the first round to successfully defend his title for the first time. He’s been out of action since, recovering from a knee injury that required surgery.
In the meantime, Davis followed his tournament victory with a decision win over Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal.
McGeary is as confident as ever entering Friday’s bout, jawing with Davis over his ability to perform.
“You seen my record? It’s 11-0 for a reason,” McGeary said. “If I say I’m going to knock him out, I knock him out. If I say I’m going to submit him, I submit him. You? I’m going to beat your face in.”
Davis, a former Division I All-American wrestler and UFC contender, does not intend to have his face beaten in. Instead, he’s been getting in his own practice on McGeary’s.
“I’ve been beating people up while I’ve been waiting to beat up you,” Davis told McGeary. “Your picture is on a bag in my gym, and I just beat the picture off the bag, OK, for the second time.”
“You do that kind of thing?” McGeary responded. “You’re a sad, sad little man.”
Davis doesn’t believe McGeary will be as effective as he thinks after the long layoff.
“You haven’t had a fight for a year, and you think you can just jump off the bench fresh?” Davis asked. “Wrong. Wrong. The world don’t work like that.”
Both men said they have some respect for each other and that they can be friends after it’s all over, but they’ve suspended showing it for the time being.
“I used to like Liam,” Davis said. “Out of all the guys I’ve fought, I’m going to like punching him in the face the least, he’s actually a pretty funny guy, but business is business and I’m going to have to come at this man like a spider monkey.”
McGeary didn’t have too much to argue with there.
“This is just business,” McGeary said, “and my business is to break your nose.”
BELLATOR 163 FIGHT CARD
Light Heavyweight World Title Fight: Liam McGeary (11-0) vs. Phil Davis (16-3)
Welterweight: Saad Awad (19-8) vs. Brennan Ward (13-4)
Welterweight: Paul Daley (38-14-2) vs. Derek Anderson (14-2)
Heavyweight: Sergei Kharitonov (23-5) vs. Javy Ayala (9-5)
Featherweight: Marloes Coenen (23-7) vs. Talita Nogueira (6-0)
Middleweight: Ed Ruth (Debut) vs. Mark Mangiardi (Debut)
Heavyweight: Tyrell Fortune (Debut) vs. Cody Miskell (Debut)
Catchweight: Neiman Gracie (4-0) vs. Rudy Bears (16-14)
Heavyweight: Josh Diekmann (15-7, 1 NC) vs. Tyler King (11-4)
Featherweight: Blair Tugman (8-6) vs. Walter Smith-Cotito (4-4, 1 NC)
Middleweight: Michael Zichelle (8-4) vs. Tim Caron (5-0)
Welterweight: Ilya Kotau (1-1) vs. Carlos Corriea (1-0)
Flyweight: Sarah Payant (1-3) vs. Hannah Regina (Debut)
Welterweight: Keenan Raymond (3-3) vs. Kastroit Xhema (Debut)
Welterweight: James Boran (6-0) vs. Vinicius De Jesus (4-1)
Featherweight: Thomas English (6-6) vs. Christopher Foster (9-4)