By Timothy Owen, (Penn State University)
The Penn State community is used to being ranked among the best in athletics. We have seen NFL-caliber athletes, world-class volleyball players and top-notch soccer players go on to have promising careers in their respective sports. Now, a recent PSU alumnus has embarked on a brand new athletic frontier: the UFC Octagon.
Phil Davis, a former amateur wrestler at PSU, took home his first UFC victory this February. Davis easily handled his opponent, veteran Brian Stann, to earn a unanimous decision during UFC 109. It improved Davis’ record to an overall 5-0 (1-0 UFC).
Phil Davis, who goes by Mr. Wonderful in the octagon, was a four-time All-American during his days on campus. He finished his career with a national title in the 197-pound weight class. His wrestling background seemed to be the advantage during his UFC debut while he dominated Stann, a former officer in the U.S. Marines and WEC Champion.
Fans here at Penn State hope that wrestling background will propel him to the status of other UFC greats who wrestled in college. Brock Lesnar, Mark Coleman, and Randy Couture were All-Americans during their wrestling days, and now rank as the UFC’s finest. The way Davis has mastered his opponents during his first five fights gives way to much optimism for his future. Besides Stann, only one other fighter has gone the distance with the lanky Davis.
The flawless beginning to his career is monumental, but he knows there are many elements of his game that still need fine-tuning. Davis told mmafighting.com that there is room for improvement in every aspect of his trade.
“I’d say that I need to refine everything… I think my wrestling needs to get better, I think my jiu-jitsu needs to get better, and I think I need to work at being more explosive,” said the cool, confident Davis.
If that is his plan, now is the time to start. Fightline.com reported Monday that Davis has wasted no time in scheduling his next bout. The former Nittany Lion will knuckle-up against the towering Alexander Gustafsson (9-0) from Sweden during UFC 112. The two similar fighting styles should result in a well-balanced bout, but the tenacity of the two fighters could produce a blood-soaking brawl.
For Davis, this is the opportunity to continue his unique Penn State legacy. There has never been a Nittany Lion to follow this violent, yet rewarding path.
As for Penn State fans, we must give Mr. Wonderful the upmost PSU style support as his career lingers on. If the success continues he would be among the most athletically noteworthy Penn State athletes. Although he doesn’t wear Penn State singlet anymore, he will forever bleed blue and white.
You Can Follow Mr. Wonderful, Phil Davis, on Twitter @PhilMrWonderful