Age: 39 (40 Aug. 24)
Current: Active fighter and owner of Team Irish MMA gyms
The Skinny: A professional boxer (17-1-2 as a junior middleweight) before turning to MMA, the 1992 Bangor High grad has a 22-9 pro record in the cage. “I’ve been (fighting) my whole life. I started when I was 8 years old,” Davis said. His 14-fight tenure in the UFC (9-5) speaks to his durability and evolution from a puncher to an all-around mixed martial artist. On Sept. 27 his fight against Alexander “Tiger” Sarnavskiy (23-1) is part of Bellator MMA’s Season 9 Lightweight eight-man tournament and the main event at the Rose Garden in Portland, Ore.
Future: Davis figures to make an impact on the sport in Maine for years to come. His Team Irish gyms in Brewer and Westbrook are currently training more than two dozen pro and amateur fighters.
What has Dana White/UFC done for him? Davis made the point that UFC and, at the time, Spike TV worked hand-in-hand with the network repeatedly showing his fights. “It not only provided me a job and a platform to provide for my family but it also pours into my schools. They see my fights on Spike TV and (future students) go, ‘How can I train with that guy?’ and that fills my schools.”
From: Standish, now lives in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
Current: Active UFC fighter
The Skinny: Former wrestling state champ at Bonny Eagle and also Norwich University graduate, Brown is 26-8 as an MMA pro and faces Steven Siler (22-10) Saturday night at UFC Fight Night 26 at TD Garden. Brown said recently he believes he has a few fights left in a career that included the World Extreme Cagefighting world championship and dates back to MMA’s brawling, no-holds barred infancy. “It took a lot more (guts) to fight then. Literally you could fight a ninja,” Brown said.
Future: A self-described “science junkie,” Brown has already begun transitioning to being a trainer at respected MMA gym America’s Top Team, where he has trained since 2005
What has Dana White/UFC done for him? “It’s the hard work of him and his partners (that) grew UFC to what it is. Without their work nobody would be making any money.”
From: Bucksport now lives in Bangor
Current: Active fighter; NEF Featherweight Champion
The Skinny: Former three-sport athlete and two-time state wrestling runner-up at Bucksport High, Wood is the hottest in-state draw with a 4-0 professional record, winning twice by submission and twice on TKOs. Training out of Young’s MMA in Brewer, Wood goes by the nickname “All Business.” Wood knows the core of the business is selling seats. “That’s the reality, that’s the way it is,” Wood said. “I’m an entertainer at (a promoter’s) level and I’m a professional athlete at my level.”
Future: Wood is the consensus pick of regional MMA observers to be the first Maine fighter to move from NEF cards to the big leagues. “Ray will get to meet (UFC President Dana White) and it won’t be at Dana’s house. It will be fighting for him somewhere,” said Wood’s Manager Ernie Fitch. Wood defends his Maine 145-pound title Sept. 21 in Lewiston against another up-and-comer, Joey Pingitore (4-0-1) of Providence, R.I.
What can Dana White/UFC do for him? “The fact that Dana White is from Maine I feel he has his eyes on Maine guys. I feel that Maine guys are destined to get their shot on the big show card.”
From: Boulder, Colo.
Current: Owner/trainer at The Academy MMA in Portland
The Skinny: Regarded as an MMA pioneer in the sport, Jack and opened first MMA school in Maine. A certified Brazilian ju jitsu black belt, Jack fought often in the days before the sport was legal and compiled a 12-7 recognized record, retiring in 2007. He turned down a spot on the first The Ultimate Fighter reality show. “That was one thing I wish I could take back,” Jack said. “Dana White came backstage at a show and said you had to be prepared to leave everything behind for six months. I had just opened my school. I couldn’t leave it for six months. It turned out to be six weeks. I could have done six weeks.” Jack’s wife and The Academy co-owner, Amanda Buckner, was part of first live women’s pay-per-view fight.
Future: Jack offers a cautionary opinion on MMA’s growth as a sport. He believes too many fighters are going into matches unprepared and under-trained. “I tell guys it will take close to a year to be ready to fight. A lot of times they never come back and I see them in the cage two months later.”
What has Dana White/UFC done for him? One thing he did not do was offer Jack a second chance at a contract, though Jack fought many (and beat several) future UFC fighters. Still, “You can’t be in this business and not reap some sort of benefit from the UFC and the UFC is what it is because of Dana White.”