November 3, 2016

Bellator 163: McGeary vs. Davis Flying Under The Radar

By Adam Martin

UFC Fight Night 98 is getting all the love this weekend, but don’t forget about Bellator 163.

To be fair to MMA fans, if they are forgetting about Bellator, it’s not like Bellator has been putting on good cards lately. In fact, I’d argue that since Scott Coker took over, the cards have actually been quite poor, with questionable matchmaking being the main culprit. But this weekend’s card, at least on paper, looks quite solid, and it’s definitely not a bad way to spend your Friday night if you like MMA.

The standout bout on the card is of course the main event, where Bellator light heavyweight champion Liam McGeary will make the first defense of his title when he takes on former UFC standout Phil Davis. It’s an intriguing fight between Davis, an elite top-control wrestler, and McGeary, an elite bottom-guard submission specialist, and should be one of the best fights this weekend which says a lot, considering there really are some great matchups booked in both the UFC and in Bellator.

For McGeary, this fight against Davis is his opportunity to prove all the doubters wrong and show the MMA world that he’s indeed a top-10 light heavyweight. Although McGeary, 34, is 11-0 in his MMA career including 8-0 in Bellator, he hasn’t exactly fought a high level of competition in his career, at least until his last two fights when he beat Emanuel Newton and Tito Ortiz. Ortiz, of course, represents the biggest win of his career to date, but Ortiz is over 40 and washed up. It might be a big name on McGeary’s record, but fans, understandably, are not totally sold on him as a champion and top-shelf light heavyweight yet. Should he get by Davis, though, it’d be hard to ignore McGeary on the list of the top 205-pounders in the world.

For Davis, McGeary is arguably a step down for him, as Davis has fought and defeated many of the best light heavyweights in the world. At 32, Davis is no longer a young pup, but he’s in his prime. With a 16-3, 1 NC record in his career, including a 9-3, 1 NC record in the UFC and a 3-0 record in Bellator, Davis has been nothing but impressive in his career, but he’s also never gotten over the hump and been a champion. With back-to-back-to-back wins in Bellator over Newton, Francis Carmont, and Muhammed Lawal, Davis has looked better than ever, but until he gets by McGeary and wins the title he won’t get the respect that he arguably deserves, and he won’t vindicate Bellator’s big free agent splash signing of him until he gets gold around his waist.

As for how I see the fight breaking down, I believe it’s easy to see what each fighter will want to do, but as far as how effective they will be at doing so, that’s hard to say. One would think Davis will look to score takedowns, achieve top control, and go for submission attempts on McGeary, just as he does in all of his fights. But McGeary is dangerous enough off of his back to make it possible that Davis will try to use his wrestling to keep the fight on the feet and try to out-kickbox McGeary. McGeary might have more pure knockout power, but it’s hard to see him matching Davis’ pace over five rounds if the fight does stay standing. So it’s an interesting fight to break down for sure, and we’ll find out Friday night just how it will go, with the winner proving his worth in the light heavyweight division.

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