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    Still undefeated: Joey Davis has made smooth transition to MMA

    Joey Davis (Photo/Bellator)

    After going 133-0 on the wrestling mats for Notre Dame College, going 3-0 in MMA might not seem like a big deal for Joey Davis. However, at this moment, that is his goal. The four-time NCAA Division II champion will return to Bellator for his third professional fight on Saturday night at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif. At Bellator 192, he will take on Ian Butler on the preliminary card.

    Davis seemed like a natural candidate to transition into MMA after his college wrestling career. In 2014, he spoke to InterMat about being a fan of fighters like Jose Aldo and Urijah Faber. He even talked about a personal friendship with Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, who will headline the card on Saturday night. Davis was well prepared for the new sport, and so far, the transition has not surprised him.

    "There's nothing that I didn't expect, because I had mentors that are in the game like Antonio McKee," Davis said. "He was my coach ever since I was a kid. Becoming a professional athlete was just something that I always wanted to do."

    Despite the move seeming like the obvious evolution of his athletic career, Davis was not sure he was going to transition into MMA. During his college career, he competed in freestyle in the summers and even challenged NCAA champion Alex Dieringer in a freestyle match at the 2016 Beat the Streets event. Making a run at the world team was not out of the question, but he ultimately decided to give MMA a shot.

    "I didn't know I was going to go into MMA. I was just trying to get my degree and be a coach someday, but there's isn't enough money to do that." Davis continued, "I wanted to have that rockstar life. I wanted to be the Odell Beckham of wrestling … I still get calls from Jordan Burroughs and other wrestlers that are like, 'Man, I wish I could do what do you did.'"

    Davis made the decision to try MMA shortly after he won his fourth NCAA title. He was sitting at McKee's house when a fax came through.

    "I didn't have time to be like, 'I don't know if I can do it. I don't know, because I have to go back to school.' You only have a small opportunity to turn pro," Davis said. "Wrestling wants you to be so humble, and it is like boring. I kind of grew out of that, and MMA gave me the platform I have today."

    While Davis is excited about the platform that an MMA career offers, he has no regrets about his wrestling career. Over the years, some have wondered how he would have performed at the Division I level instead of the lower division. Davis does not couch his career accomplishments in those terms.

    "I had a tremendous career at Division II. I don't really think there is much difference in the wrestling," Davis said. "I know you all give Division I the best platform, but I am happy with where I was. I had a tremendous career, and I made history. Nobody has done what I have done in Division II. That is why God put me there, because nobody has done it except for me. To go undefeated for four years, there's only three people to do it ever: Cael Sanderson, Joey Davis, Marcus LeVesseur. No more people."

    Davis seems equally content with his current situation. The 24-year-old fighter is currently training at Team Bodyshop with fellow Bellator competitors Kevin "Baby Slice" Ferguson, cadet world champion Aaron Pico and his cousin A.J. McKee.

    "It's just cool, man, because you get to make money and fight, and you don't have to do a whole bunch of wrestling matches," Davis explained. "You get to do one tough fight, and you get paid. It is cool. I am happy."

    If Davis continues his run of success in Bellator, he will likely receive more calls from wrestlers looking for advice about the transition into MMA. Even though he stresses that he is more than satisfied with his career move, he doesn't think it is the right choice for everyone.

    "I tell them to stay away. I don't want any man fighting for money. Everybody can't do what I do. This is crazy man." Davis concluded, "I am going to keep it one hundred, I tell them stay away."

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