March 21, 2013

No more inner conflict to this born fighter

By Steve Craig
Staff Writer

AUBURN - For the longest time, Marcus Davis felt he had to be two different people.

Marcus Davis, Jess Liaudin
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Another one bites the canvas as Marcus Davis knocks out Jess Liaudin during their UFC 80 bout at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle, England, on Jan. 19, 2008.

2008 Associated Press file

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Bangor’s Marcus Davis, also known as The Irish Hand Grenade, expects to put the big hurt on his foe Thursday night during Mixed Martial Arts matches at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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WHERE: Androscoggin Bank Colisee

WHEN: Thursday, doors open at 7 p.m. 


LIVE COVERAGE: Spike TV, at 10 p.m.

In the cage, the mixed martial arts fighter gained international recognition as The Irish Hand Grenade, capable of exploding fists and kicks into an opponent's face at a moment's notice.

At home he fought hard to suppress -- or at least hide -- the fighter within. No fights on the TV, no gloves around the house, not a single picture or poster on the walls. Nothing that would indicate the lifelong Maine resident, father and 1992 graduate of Bangor High School was among the top competitors in a brutal combat sport rapidly gaining a chokehold on the nation's consciousness.

On Thursday night, there will be no hiding it. The man considered the premier MMA fighter to come from Maine will put those skills on display for fans in Lewiston and television viewers around the country. Davis, who still lives in Bangor, brings a 21-9 career record into the cage against Waachiim Spiritwolf (9-11-1) in a welterweight fight as part of the Bellator MMA show at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.

Limited tickets, ranging from $40 to $125, were still available Tuesday. Three of the bouts -- including Davis against Spiritwolf -- will be broadcast live on Spike TV, starting at 10 p.m.

Davis, who competed on The Ultimate Fighter 2 reality show in 2005, will have a clear goal when he enters the cage, but that has not always been the case.

"At one point I had a split personality," Davis said. "I felt I had to be somebody else than the Irish Hand Grenade."

Once he realized the duality was counter-productive, Davis said he took another step in what he terms his evolution.

He accepted the truth.

"I was born to be a fighter," Davis said.


Starting in 2006, Davis had 14 consecutive fights in the UFC -- Ultimate Fighting Championships, considered the top league of MMA -- including six straight wins to start and wins in eight of his first nine fights. At his peak, he was ranked eighth in the world. He lost four of his final five fights in the UFC and was given his release after being knocked out in the third round by Jeremy Stephens on New Year's Day 2011.

"I was probably one or two more wins away from a title fight," Davis said. "Some people would look at that and it would eat them up. I don't look at it that way because I can't control what happened in the past. I can only control how I respond to it.

"Rather than think of it as a negative experience, I think of it as one of the greatest things ever to happen to me because it's opened up doors."

Davis, who turns 40 in August, is married to his third wife and has four children. He earned his reputation fighting in UFC, and when he was contacted by Bellator to take part in a show in his home state, he didn't hesitate.

"Bellator is the second biggest organization in the world, in my opinion anyway," Davis said. "The fact that they were coming to Maine obviously piques my interest even more. If they're coming to Maine once, they're probably coming again and I would like to be involved with anything they're doing here, or actually anything that's happening in Maine that's MMA involved."

Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney said that once his organization decided to put on a show in Maine he knew he needed Davis.

"Marcus is the biggest star in the state. He's well known. He's charismatic," Rebney said. "If Marcus does well we would love to keep working with him."

(Continued on page 2)

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