It was less than a year ago that LC Davis was frustrated in Japan.
A year has made a world of difference for the WEC featherweight.
Davis takes on fellow former IFLer Deividas Taurosevicius in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday at WEC 47, with the winner closing in on a possible title shot.
Davis won 13 of his first 14 career fights and was riding a four-fight winning streak on March 20, 2009, when he ran into journeyman Michihiro Omigawa in Japan at Sengoku Seventh Battle. The resulting unanimous decision defeat dropped Davis into a career nadir.
“I felt like I beat myself in that one,” Davis said. “Not taking anything away from Omigawa, he did a great job and had a great game plan. I just didn’t prepare well for that fight. I didn’t prepare for the jet-lag, a lot of different things I took for granted in training and preparation.
“I feel like I definitely could have fought better; I didn’t fight to the best of my ability.”
Fortunately, he had a great reputation on which to fall back, and that got him into the WEC. Set to fight Javier Vazquez in the third Affliction show, the pair instead met a week later in the WEC. Davis won a split decision and was on his way back.
He did not have nearly as much trouble at WEC 44, scoring a unanimous decision win over Diego Nunes to improve to 15-2.
“I’ve progressed leaps and bounds,” Davis says. “I learned so much from those two losses I had. I’ve been learning from my wins, too. I looked much better against Diego Nunes after the Javier Vazquez fight.”
The competition is so high in the division that it is difficult to measure whether or not the matchup with Taurosevicius represents a step up in opponent.
“There really aren’t any weak guys in the featherweight division,” said Davis. “It’s really loaded.”
Taurosevicius is a former rugby player from Lithuania who has done most of his training under Renzo Gracie, for whom he fought in the IFL. Taurosevicius (12-3) dropped his first career fight, in 2002, and did not enter competition again for nearly three years. His only losses since then came at 155 pounds, to UFC lightweight title contender Frankie Edgar in 2006 and to IFL champion Ryan Schultz in 2008.
Like Davis, Taurosevicius is 2-0 in the WEC, with a split-decision victory over the hard-luck Vazquez and a dominating unanimous decision over Mackens Semerzier.
“He’s one of the top guys in the division, pretty well-rounded,” Davis said of Taurosevicius. “Seems to be really strong and fights at a really fast pace. I’ve been watching him for a while. We kind of came along the same path, at the IFL and Affliction. I’ve definitely had my eye on him for a while now.
“He seems to be really big. I thought Javier Vazquez was also a big 145. I have been really focusing on my strength and conditioning to be explosive and powerful and match what he has. Every time I look at a guy and he’s all big and buff and I fight them, I realize I’m just as strong as they are. I’m confident in my strength and physical size as well.”
In the past, Davis has been hobbled but still able to beat his opponent. The best moment of his career came April 4, 2008, in New Jersey, when he knocked unconscious Rafael Dias four seconds before the bell in what ranks as one of the most graphic and devastating head-kick knockouts ever.
It was an important moment for Davis, who had tasted defeat for the first time three months earlier.
“That (knockout) was definitely the best moment of my career,” he recalled. “I was coming off my first loss ever, to Wagnney Fabiano, and I also suffered a really bad injury in that training camp. I hurt my foot like three weeks before the fight. I was on crutches, could not put weight on it.
“I just prayed, and prayed a lot, did all the rehab, and I was able to perform to the best of my ability and get that KO at the end of what was a very close fight. It was definitely a huge moment and a great memory in my career.”
In recounting the loss to Fabiano, Davis says it was not as bitter as the defeat in Japan because Fabiano simply was the better fighter that night. Now more mature – he’ll turn 30 at the end of October – Davis has learned his lessons. Most importantly, he knows how to apply them inside and outside of the cage.
He spent three weeks of his training camp in Las Vegas working out at Xtreme Couture, adding to his regular work at Miletich Fighting Systems in Bettendorf, Iowa. Davis, a southpaw, had a two-week jaunt to the desert in December to help Gray Maynard get ready for his January fight with Nate Diaz and came back for more to help his own cause.
Good thing for him Nevada is a long way from Japan.