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Exclusive: Marcus “The Irish Hand Grenade” Davis Talks UFC 85, Potential Title Shot, and More

UFC welterweight Marcus “The Irish Hand Grenade” Davis is known for a few different things. Wearing a kilt to the Octagon is one, and being one of the few ex-pro boxers to make a successful transition to MMA is another. On Saturday he takes on Mike Swick at UFC 85, his fourth consecutive bout in the U.K. In this exclusive Cage Potato interview, the Bangor, Maine native talks about his future with the UFC, his relationship with U.K. MMA fans, and his transition from boxing to MMA.

CagePotato: Hey Marcus. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. First off, tell me how training has been going. Have you done anything differently to prepare for Mike Swick?

Training’s been going great. I spent the last twenty-four days at Sityongdong training camp, working on some stuff there. I just got back to Maine, and I’m kind of tapering off now. The only thing I would say that might be different for this camp is that about twelve weeks out I started eating like a pig, gaining weight. I got myself up to 193 pounds.

I went into training camp benching over 400 pounds and squatting somewhere in the high 400’s. I was the strongest I’ve ever been in my whole MMA career going into training camp. I wanted to make sure I was big and strong and able to deal with Swick’s weight. Then I rekindled my relationship with my old boxing coach, Joe Lake, and had him take a look at my hands to make sure that small things were right, like my hands were up, my chin was down, that I was punching on the move and doing the right things. But I only spent a couple weeks doing that, and Mark DellaGrotte was always with me making sure that I stuck to being an MMA fighter and not a boxer.

Swick has a reputation for being a pretty good stand-up fighter, but do you feel like you’ve got a clear advantage when it comes to striking? Is that where you’d like to see the fight decided?

Oh yeah. I would love for him to come in and think, ‘You know what, I’m going to make a statement. I’m going to stand with him and knock him out.’ I would love for that to happen.

Do you really think he’ll come in with that attitude?

No, I don’t think so. I think he’s going to try to use his reach, he’s going to try to stay away from me, and the second I get in there to try and throw punches he’s going to shoot for a takedown and try and get me to the ground.

Let’s talk about your relationship with the UFC fans in the U.K. It seems like you’ve become a staple for any fight card over there now. I know you’re very proud of your Irish heritage, but how much of your popularity in the U.K. is attributable to that and how much is their response to what they’ve seen of you in the Octagon?

I know that they brought me over there originally to fight in Ireland because it just made sense. But I’m one of those guys that loves going over there. There’s not a whole lot of guys who like going over there and fighting. They don’t like the trip or whatever else, but I always want to fight over there. Every time they have a show over there I’m like, please, put me in it. I love to fight over there. I’ve got a pretty good fanbase now. Even though I was the bad guy over there at first, this time it’s like I’m at home fighting and [Swick] is coming to me. Even though we’re both flying over there, Britain basically adopted me and I have good relationship with the people of the UK.

The whole thing is this, if we got into real mathematics, I’m probably about 50% Irish, 25% Welsh, and, well, probably a little more Welsh and the rest Scottish. The thing is though, I’m an American who’s very proud of where I come from and very thankful that my ancestors came from the UK and gave me the chance to grow up here. I’m thankful, and I acknowledge that, and I think the people of the UK see that and know that I’m an American who is proud to be of UK descent.

You started out as a pro boxer before you went on “The Ultimate Fighter’. What was it like trying to make that transition from boxing to MMA?

I believe that being a boxer, I thought my hands were so good and as a boxer when you watch the MMA you think, ‘Those guys stink. There’s no way they could beat me. If someone tried to shoot in and take me down I’d just punch them in the face.’

That’s what you think. You’re an idiot for thinking that, but that’s what you think. Then you find out the hard way that it doesn’t work like that, and you make excuses to yourself. After the show I realized that if I wanted to do this sport I had to become a complete MMA fighter. I embraced the sport, and now I can fight wherever I need to. I can grapple. I can do takedowns. I have good takedown defense. I don’t care where the fight goes. That’s why I’m on this eleven-fight win streak, because now I have the confidence to commit to punches and try to knock guys out because I’m not worried about being taken down.

Since you have been on such a great win streak since your appearance on the TUF 2 finale, where do you think you stand in the UFC’s welterweight division? How far are you from a title shot at this rate?

Honestly, I think I’m probably two wins away from a title fight. It depends on how this fight goes, though. If I go out there and take Swick out in impressive fashion, I will have done something that no one else has done in the UFC. Okami, it took him three rounds to win a decision. He might not have looked good against Burkman, but he went the distance and won. He beat David Loiseau in a decision.

Nobody else has been able to go in there and just starch him. If I do that, then it says something. My next fight I would think would probably be against the winner of the [Matt] Hughes-Thiago Alves fight. That person would probably get the winner of the Jon Fitch-GSP fight. It only makes sense, to me anyway.

What was the toughest thing to learn when you transitioned into MMA?

Getting comfortable on my back. Being okay with being taken down and fighting off my back. That was the toughest part.

How did you get over it?

Well, when I fought Joe Stevenson on the show and he picked me up and slammed me, it injured my clavicle and it just didn’t heal. It took nine months for that injury to heal. When I fought on the live show it was still hurt. It just never healed right.

What I ended up doing is when I went back to training, I didn’t throw one punch for six months. I just taped that arm to my side and would start out on my back every day for six months and just grappled. I grappled with everyone. I traveled all over grappling with everyone I could. Then when I was ready to go back to fighting my manager set me up with a striker and said, ‘Don’t strike with him. Go out there and grapple. Take him down and submit him.’ That’s what I did, and now I’m confident anywhere.

What made you want to do MMA in the first place?

I just completely fell in love with MMA the first time I saw it. I wanted to do it because it was closer to real fighting. It seemed like being able to push it to the limits and really fight. Boxing is very one-dimensional. You can get away with making certain mistakes and also you can get away with having just great athletic talent and being quick. You can’t do that in MMA. Even the best guys out there have losses on their records because anything can happen.

That’s why I love this sport. I think that my desire and passion for this sport, that’s why I’m always in search of my Hagler-Hearns type of fight. I want the fight that people are going to remember. That’s what I want as a legacy. I want that fight where people are going to say, ‘Oh my God, do you remember that fight years ago with Marcus Davis and so-and-so?’

That’s what I want so that when I’m done fighting people will remember those great fights that I had. That’s where my passion lies. A lot of guys want to become rich and famous and do movies or whatever, but that’s not what’s important to me. What’s important to me is having a legacy as a great fighter. Look at Mickey Ward. Mickey Ward was never known as being a great champion or anything, but you look at his fights and he’s had some great ones.

Are you saying that if you fought your whole career and had great, memorable fights but never won a major title, you’d feel satisfied with that?

Yeah, definitely. My whole life is my passion for the fight. The money I’ve made fighting goes to my kids. I have two kids going to private school. Who do you think pays for that? I have another daughter going to Suffolk University. Who do you think pays for that? So the two things in my life are my career, having a great and monumental fight, and the most important thing is the success of my children.

If my children don’t do better than me, I’m a failure. If you’re a parent and your children grow up to be scumbags and trouble-makers, you’re a failure. I don’t care if you’re a millionaire and you own companies and you tell people what to do all day, if your kids are scumbags and they’re out using drugs and hurting people, you’re a failure. That’s not going to be me. Whether I’m some washed-up fighter or whatever, people will say, ‘He was a good dad.’ That’s more important to me than having a bunch of money and fast cars and chasing broads.

Thanks, Marcus. Anything else you want to add?

No, I’m just going to try and put on a great fight. I like Mike Swick. I think he’s a good guy, and when it’s all over I’ll shake his hand and whatever happens I want to be able to say that the better man won.



Cagepotato Comments

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Xupacabra- June 3, 2008 at 9:23 am
What a discussion... Still you wont be sure until you stand above him while he will be benching 400 weigth...
Anyway.. I like this guy.. Never talks sh*t and does decent ko's...
War Davis !
roger chong- June 3, 2008 at 6:22 am
He doesn't lift that much, in china we can do that,, white people are shitfaaces
Anonymous- June 2, 2008 at 11:39 pm
bilbo- June 2, 2008 at 10:51 pm
For one thing, this guy is a professional fighter, not a POWERLIFTER. So the fact that he trains in various areas of MMA and does rigorous cardio workouts makes that lift a helluva lot more impressive/hard to believe. Especially for his weight. I'm not saying it isn't true, just saying that those of you who seem to think this is an easy task for a guy in Marcus's situation are mistaken.
Mike- June 2, 2008 at 9:44 pm
If he says he can bench 400lbs, then he probably can. A lot of hardcore athletes can bench press double their weight. Getting way past double is the hard thing that not very much people can do. So if he were to claim he could bench 500+lbs, only then it would be questionable. I'm a small guy and when I was lifting hardcore I was 135lbs maxing a little more than double my weight "275 for 3 reps". My goal was to lift 315. But I never even got to 300.

So for me believing Marcus is not a prob.
Chris D- June 2, 2008 at 9:05 pm
I am from Bangor and my son trained at the Bangor Grappling Club when Marcus first took it over. I have met Marcus and talked with him, great guy.

Marcus is as big as the guy who runs/ran the gym I go to and that guy can bench 550 lbs, did that guy juice? Yes he did.

Do I believe Marcus just thru training can max 400 in his bench, absolutley.
PoopFuck- June 2, 2008 at 8:58 pm
PoopFuck- June 2, 2008 at 8:57 pm
fuck Silvia, this is the real Maine-iac.
Taekwondont (aka He might bench 400)- June 2, 2008 at 8:17 pm
teachbug is right, John is an poser. Like I said, if he did all those things he claims, he would know how likely it is this is true. Look at how ripped Marcus is in some of his other pics. John = tool.
teachbug- June 2, 2008 at 8:06 pm
watch it bench 400, dude has a black belt in taekwando . :)
He has a black belt in it, but he cant fuckin spell it, BEWARE, he might be full-o-bullshit :)
I think he gotz hizzself a black belut in taekwandodaroga..........(aint that like hoof-n-mouth or sumbtin). hahaha
eff- June 2, 2008 at 8:05 pm
im sure he could max 400 no prob. I hit that much on the decline press after a month of training...but with that much on his chest, im surprised the little man cant squat more. 400 is nothing to squat.
sol- June 2, 2008 at 7:58 pm
this is definitely the fight im looking forward to the most, was hoping so much for Bisping-Leben, but ah well, shit happens.

I think this fight is a shoe-in for fight of the night although I think Brandon Vera might do something crazy.
He might bench 400- June 2, 2008 at 7:55 pm
First off, I am not, nor have I claimed to be, a badass. "I don’t understand all the bullshit theese guys try to sell and to what end?" Looks like you were the one dissin, moron. I do not need a bench shirt to do 350. In fact, I dont use them at all, but lots of people do, especially for max. Nor am I sticking up for anyone. I am pointing out that is EASILY possible for him to bench that much, shirt or not. He walks around at 193. If you actually do all those activities you claim, including "amatuer body building" you would know this . If you look up the raw bench records, the 114lb and 132lb records are both over 390. So it is easily possible that someone with another 60 - 80 lbs of body weight could match that. In fact, the 148lb and 165lb records are WELL OVER 400lbs. Maybe you should stuff your imaginary black belt in your mouth to keep you from sounding like an ass again. You do indeed know very little about this subject.
John- June 2, 2008 at 6:34 pm
(He might bench 400) Maybe you should join the UFC since you are such a badass and so quick to diss someone you don't know and stick up for another you don't know as well. I stand at 260 right now and will trim down to 207, I played highschool and college football am an amature body builder and a black belt in taekwando. I know a little about what I am talking about and I don't need a "bench shirt" to press what I press.
BIG CHRIS- June 2, 2008 at 6:11 pm
Why didn't we see that on The UFC all access show, they'll show Wandy in a snorkel, Sherk flipping a tire, Penn on a light jog....I want to see Marcus Davis Lifting 400 lbs.....
He might bench 400- June 2, 2008 at 5:45 pm
How the fuck do any of you know if he can bench 400? I can bench almost 350 and i walk around at 185. If I had a need to, I could get to 170 easily. If I can do that, surely there are some pro athletes who can do it. He didnt say he did it without a bench shirt either. Obviously some of you have never done or even seen competitive power lifting. I call bullshit on your calling bullshit.
Zackary Adams- June 2, 2008 at 5:34 pm
I know that this is the only fight I am really anticipating at UFC 85. Every other card has been shuffled so much. I think I heard that Tinky Winky of the Teletubbies is fighting Voltron, just because the UFC is running out of fighters!
George (without the "s")- June 2, 2008 at 4:31 pm
You spoiled the whole plan....
Ryan- June 2, 2008 at 4:25 pm
Hey CP,
No offense, but you guys really need to size your pics right. Some posts are fine, but others, like this one, are being resized by the browser and the jaggies look awful. Again, no offense, just want your pics to be on par with your writing, which is awesome btw.
James- June 2, 2008 at 4:21 pm
@ Vegas & John: He's trying to psycho out Swick, so when Swick reads this he is gonna want to focus on strength conditioning rather than other stuff
Vegas- June 2, 2008 at 4:02 pm
"No way this guy is or ever was benching 400 lbs. I don’t understand all the bullshit theese guys try to sell and to what end?"

I was thinking the same thing.. hm. Don't quite understand it, either. =\
John- June 2, 2008 at 3:51 pm
No way this guy is or ever was benching 400 lbs. I don't understand all the bullshit theese guys try to sell and to what end?
Vrax- June 2, 2008 at 3:44 pm
What if your kids are out doing drugs, but not hurting people?