For most people, especially Americans, weight control is a huge problem. The United States is known for a range of health problems and social disorders that are a direct result of poor weight control.

The problem is not just a fault of the general public or the lack of individual self-control. Large corporate food companies have used billion-dollar advertising budgets and product placement to get America hooked on nutritionally defunct garbage that people can’t help but shove into their gullets every day. It’s not just a matter of calorie intake, but also of the type of calories people ingest. For athletes, especially weight-bound athletes, like boxers, wrestlers and mixed martial artists, this is an even bigger problem.

Combat-sport weight classes are strictly regulated by state athletic commissions. So, if it’s not bad enough that they are already starving themselves while trying to train for a fight, these athletes have companies pushing potato chips, candy, cookies and super triple cheese-grease-burgers with super-sized French fries in their faces. This greatly affects some guys and temptation overcomes health-conscious decision-making.

L.C. Davis (L) (Jade Kimmel/The MMA Corner)

The choice of weight class can be one of the toughest decisions a fighter has to make. The choice can be a detriment to a career or an image, or it can be the best decision a person ever made. It can affect pride as much as it affects health and well-being.

While some guys, especially former UFC lightweight champ Frankie Edgar, have a huge pride issue when it comes to moving down 10 pounds after a string of losses, the decision was easy for newly-minted bantamweight L.C. Davis.

Davis, a 32-year-old Kansas City native, was a perennial featherweight fighter dating back to February 2006. After an impressive 13-2 run to kick off the first three years of his career, he entered the biggest show for featherweights at that time, Zuffa LLC’s World Extreme Cagefighting, which has since merged into Zuffa’s flagship promotion, the UFC.

As a WEC featherweight, Davis was pitted against the best 145-pounders in the world. After only three decisions in his first 15 fights, he all of a sudden got into a rut where almost every fight went the distance. His 3-2 run in the promotion ended with four fights making it to the judges’ scorecards.

“When you’re fighting in the WEC and Affliction with some of the best guys in the world, it’s hard to finish those guys,” admitted Davis in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “In the WEC, I had a lot of decisions, you know, and people were calling me a grinder and that I couldn’t finish fights. But if you look at the guys I fought, I beat Diego Nunes. I was the first person to ever beat him. I had a decision with Deividas Taurosevicius, and he had never been finished. Frankie Edgar couldn’t finish him and Ryan Schultz couldn’t finish him. I fought Javier Vazquez, and he had never been finished. I was fighting guys that haven’t been finished by anybody, not just me.”

Davis really had his hands full at the WEC level, and he welcomed that. It was the top of the crop as far as featherweights go, and he was holding his own. Going the distance with guys like Nunes and Raphael Assuncao is no easy feat, yet he pulled it off. However, after his release from the promotion, he had to take some time off to regroup. Davis was out of action from November of 2010 until February of 2012.

Upon his return to action, he faced young up-and-coming Brazilian Christian Uflacker, who trains out of his own gym, Uflacker Academy, on Chicago’s south side. The fight took place only an hour away in Valparaiso, Ind., at Hoosier Fight Club 10. Davis dropped that bout by a close and controversial split decision, but he didn’t let it keep him down.

“I was feeling pretty good, but I wasn’t back in my groove 100 percent,” admitted Davis. “I took about a year off, I had a knee surgery, I had a kid, and I opened up a gym. I wasn’t training every day and fighting all the time. It was my first fight back, first training camp back, and I don’t think I had the best training camp for that fight. I lost a lot of size after I had knee surgery. I was walking into that fight at about what I’m walking around now.

“I didn’t really have to cut weight to make that fight against Christian Uflacker, who has fought as high as 170 [pounds]. He only made 145 that one fight against me, and now he’s back up to 155. Obviously, there’s a big weight difference, because since that fight, I’ve dropped down to 135 and he’s moved up to 155. It was my first fight back, so maybe a little ring rust, and a hometown decision, too, because I really thought I won that fight.”

Davis quickly bounced back, but he had to make a choice. What was his ideal weight class?

After much thought, Davis came to the conclusion that bantamweight was probably worth a shot. Even though he thought he won the fight with Uflacker, he still wanted to give it a try. It turned out to be sooner rather than later, as he next entered the ring on the Titan Fighting Championship stage, which he hadn’t been on since his last win there five years prior.

“Initially, going into my first fight at bantamweight, it was nerve-racking,” said Davis. “I had suffered three losses in a row. Another loss could basically end my career, so my back was against the wall. There was a lot of pressure in my hometown, co-main event on TV. So it was good to get that win, and I just kept trying to move forward from there.”

Davis is a guy that walks around at about 150 pounds, and at heaviest around 155 pounds. So, to get down to the 145-pound featherweight limit was easy, but he felt he needed some help for his additional cut to the 135-pound bantamweight division.

“I got a better nutrition coach, who’s been helping me out with my diet. My whole MMA career and my wrestling career, I never believed in diets or anything,” Davis explained. “I really just ate what I wanted and I have a great metabolism. I never worried too much about what I was eating, as long as I worked hard in the gym. Now, the sport’s evolving so fast and you have guys on the Dolce Diet and this and that. I just don’t want guys to have that advantage on me, so I decided to clean up my diet a lot. I made the cut to bantamweight, no problem. I felt much better at 135.”

It’s very hard to argue with Davis regarding his cut. In his bantamweight debut, he managed to score a TKO of Bill Kamery at about the midway point of round two. Needless to say, he was satisfied with his decision.

“I feel great,” he said. “I feel this is my most competitive weight class. Obviously, cutting weight is always terrible, you know? You have to stop eating and drinking for a while. It’s just part of the process.”

Starting to feel some momentum for the first time in years, Davis was ready to get right back in the cage, but some unforeseen circumstances held him back for nearly nine months.

After a series of fights that never came to fruition, Davis was itching to get back into a ring—any ring—just to throw down. He was on the bench for too long after his spectacular win. But when it rains, it pours. After a long wait, he ended up taking three fights in three months, between December 2012 and March of this year.

“The March fight that I had, I found out about that before I knew about the February fight,” explained the Midwesterner. “I had that fight at my bantamweight debut in Titan, and I ended up taking nine months off, not by choice. I had a couple opponents back out. I accepted a fight in Canada and then that guy pulled out. It was just an unfortunate thing that happened and is a part of MMA.

“I ended up taking a pro boxing match in December on six days’ notice just because I was itching to fight, and I won that at 140 pounds. So I made 140 on six days’ notice and won a pro boxing match. I also stopped the guy in the first round. Then I fought in February and March, and now June. So, if you count my pro boxing match, this is my fourth fight in six months. I’ve been pretty active lately.”

Finally getting back into the ring, Davis earned three first-round TKO victories. His first was the boxing match, as he explained. Two months later, he fought again, winning in 2:18 in his hometown at Kansas City Fighting Alliance 5. On March 30, he traveled up to Omaha, Neb., for his third fight at bantamweight and took home his third TKO in a row at Victory Fighting Championship 39. Already, the string of wins has resulted in bigger opportunities for Davis.

On Saturday night, Global Warrior Challenge will host its inaugural event, GWC: British Invasion – U.S. vs. U.K.. It takes place at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., and features some big names, including Oli Thompson, Ricco Rodriguez, Bobby Lashley and Kendall Grove.

In the fifth fight of the 11-fight card, Davis will be facing off against Britain’s James Saville. Saville is a 22-year-old phenom with a 11-5 pro record dating back to when he was just 18 years old. At 5-foot-10, Saville is a tall bantamweight. He is a submission specialist with five of his wins coming by triangle choke. This makes for an interesting match-up for Davis, who has a solid amateur wrestling background.

“I’ve seen a couple of his fights on YouTube,” said Davis. “He’s tough. He’s got a lot of wins by triangle. I think that’s his go-to move. He’s long and lanky, so he’s got a good body style for that. He likes to kick a lot. He’s almost 6-foot at 135, so that’s going to be something to deal with. He likes standing and he’s tough off his back, so it’s a dangerous fight. I’m expecting a tough fight.”

While Saville definitely poses some challenges for Davis, the WEC vet knows where his strengths lie.

“I think wrestling’s going to play a huge role in this fight,” Davis predicted. “I think his weakest point is wrestling, and my strongest point is wrestling. The size thing, I don’t think will be much of a difference. He’s a huge 135. He’s fought at 155 and he’s fought at 145, so he’s kind of like myself. He’s not a small bantamweight, and he’ll be the first guy I fought that’s taller than me at 135. I don’t think the size will be an issue, but I think that strength, wrestling and experience will be a huge factor for myself.”

L.C. Davis (R) (Jade Kimmel/The MMA Corner)

Regardless of the wrestling experience, height difference or variation in submission skills, Davis knows that he has one thing that Saville cannot prepare for—time. That is something every kid knows is a huge disadvantage the very second he gets into a wrestling match or a grip contest with his dad, uncle or grandpa.

“I feel like I got my old-man, grown-man strength, and I’m not going to let some little kid beat me up,” Davis stated.

Davis is coming into Saturday’s contest as a lean, experienced, hungry fighter who has been on the biggest stage for the lighter weight classes, and now that these guys are in the Octagon, that’s where he needs to be, too. He’s had a taste, and now he can’t get that out of his mouth. He wants to get back, and after his last three fights, he’s definitely on course. Another knockout will be another step in the right direction.

“Ideally, I would like to get a spectacular knockout standing up, or take him down and get a spectacular knockout on the ground. However I can get it, I’ll take it, but I’m going to finish him for sure. I’m going to go out looking for the kill and keep this finish streak going. Hopefully, that will get the attention of the major leagues. My goal is to get into the UFC. I’m not in this to be a journeyman fighting on the regional shows. I don’t want to be a minor league baseball player. I want to be a major league baseball player.”

L.C. would like to thank Travis Conley, his fiancé, his dad, all his family, and all his teammates at HD MMA. He would also like to thank his sponsors: Interactive Health, Italian Delight, Title MMA, 68’s Inside Sports and Carmen’s Café. Also, all the people in Kansas City that support him and other Midwest fighters. Follow Davis on Twitter: @LC_Davis

Top Photo: L.C. Davis (Jade Kimmel/The MMA Corner)