Putting together a puzzle can be, well, puzzling. The pattern and the picture have to line up just right. The more pieces in the puzzle, the more complicated it can be. Puzzle pieces are complex little things that show little detail, and if one prong or hole doesn’t line up, it’s back to the box to grab another candidate. It might look perfect from far away, but…nope, not that one either…until it snaps into place.

When you’ve put the pieces of a puzzle together in the right way, you are responsible for assembling a wonderful scene. It may even be a dream setting.

Davis (Jade Kimmel/The MMA Corner)

Davis (Jade Kimmel/The MMA Corner)

The pieces of the puzzle seem to be fitting just right for Bellator fighter L.C. Davis.

Davis, with a record of 20-6, makes his Bellator debut on March 21 against submission specialist Taurean Bogguess, who stands with a career mark of 10-7. Hardcore MMA fans know Davis. They may have even seen him fight for Affliction, the WEC, the IFL or a number of other promotions for which he has battled. However, the casual fan will be wondering, “Who is this guy?”

Davis has been picking up pieces and assembling his puzzle for quite some time. He wrestled in college for Missouri Valley College and became a wrestling coach. One of his wrestling buddies tried MMA and encouraged Davis to give it a try. First fit in the puzzle.

Once he decided to go pro, Davis gave up his coaching job at Pratt College to train under the legendary Pat Miletich. Second piece.

Davis went on a nine-fight run to start his pro career.

“Since I got serious with MMA, I have had one goal in mind—to win a world title,” said Davis in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “I was practically raised in an environment with world champs. Pat Miletich was a five-times world champ, and I trained with champs, so I always just believed I could and would be a world champ. I am still chasing that dream.”

Sometimes you can learn what you need to learn by experiencing pain. In 2011, the fighter had to pull out of a fight with a knee injury. He then reinjured the knee and, soon after, found out he needed surgery. Around that time, he also found out he was going to be a father and opened a gym, HDMMA in Kansas City, with Jason High. More than a few pieces fell into place in that dark time in his career.

“I now have a two-year-old son, and winning helps me provide for him,” Davis said. “Looking at my son encourages me to work harder so I can pay my bills. I didn’t have a kid until I was 31. I used to fight dads and think, ‘If he has a kid, he can’t train as hard as me.’ Now that I am a parent, I know that’s not true. I have to do all the training and do all the parenting stuff, and now I am extra motivated. Those who fight with kids and jobs and everything, those are the hungry guys.”

Owning your own gym with another excellent fighter doesn’t hurt much, either.

“It’s great to be able to practice with [High] and the guys there,” Davis admitted. “Sometimes, he goes to [American Top Team] Florida, and I pick up the slack. I also coach wrestling, travel to [American Kickboxing Academy] and ATT Florida and Jason picks up. We work together, split time in the gym and train together. It’s perfect.”

Sometimes a fighter can learn more from a loss than a win. After losing a controversial split decision to Christian Uflacker at Hoosier Fight Club, Davis decided to drop from featherweight to bantamweight. Since that loss, Davis has gone on a four-fight winning streak at bantamweight. He looked unbeatable until he suffered another controversial split decision defeat against Ryan Roberts at Victory Fighting Championship. However, that fight is what prompted Bellator to come calling.

“This [loss] was a tough one to swallow,” Davis admitted. “I mean, it was a close fight, but I thought I won. Especially given the circumstances—Roberts weighed in at 140 [pounds], I was 135. When we stepped into the ring, he was close to 170. He was a Nebraska commission timekeeper and friends with the judges. One judge scored it 49-46 for me. I definitely won the second and third rounds, felt like I won the fourth, and the fifth was a toss-up. But it is what it is, and I have to learn from it: I can’t leave it in the hands of the judges.”

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

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

Lesson learned. Another piece placed.

“I am very appreciative of Bellator. They didn’t just judge me on my win-loss. They looked at my potential and what I can do and what I bring to the table, and gave me a chance,” said Davis. “Now it’s time to prove what I can do. Every time I fight, I improve. And now, at 135 [pounds], I am more competitive. Earlier in my career, I would take fights at 155 because it was so hard to get fights [at] 145. But I walk around at 155 to 160. You see it a lot now with fighters. We have nutritionists, the Dolce Diet and everything is more professional now. You can’t just train part-time in your garage like the old days. Everything is more professional. This is a huge step in the right direction for me.”

Davis is confident he has all the pieces in place and all the skills ready.

“I see myself winning,” Davis said. “I know of [Bogguess]. He does PT at Quad-Cities with Miletich. He is very athletic, looks like more of a ground-game specialist. I plan on proving I am better. My background and base is wrestling, and not a lot of people know that I am also a pro boxer. I won my pro-boxing debut by TKO with body shots. I am a southpaw, and anytime anyone goes against a lefty, there is an advantage. You don’t get to spar with many lefties and you don’t see the angles.

“I plan on trying to finish the fight quickly so I can stay healthy. The tournament is tough. One cut can throw it off. In the featherweight tourney, I think Diego Nunes got robbed, but the guy who won suffered cuts on his face and he has to fight again in four weeks. I’ve got to get in and get out so I can recover quicker and not leave things in the hands of the judges.”

The puzzle is definitely coming together with all the right corner pieces and a lot of the heart completed. Davis just needs to put together a string of wins on the biggest stage of his career to put himself in position to fight for a title. The picture has always been clear to him. Now, the rest of the world gets to see him as he wishes—as a warrior with all the right skills and all the right training. They get to see him as a champion in the making.

L.C. would like to thank his business partner and teammate, Jason High, and all the guys out at HD MMA. He would also like to thank his manager, Mike Kogan, for getting him into Bellator, and his sponsors: Reebok, Title MMA, Carmen’s Café and Italian Delight. LC would also like to thank his coach, Travis Conley, and Dr. Tom Teter at Synergy Health & Wellness. Follow Davis on Twitter: @lc_davis

About The Author

Staff Writer

Amber currently resides in Tampa, Fla., a hotbed of MMA. She was introduced to the sport Memorial Day weekend in 2006 and quickly became addicted. Amber loves the fact that the biggest and strongest don’t always win, the respect the competitors show and that women are finally getting their shot. She also writes a blog for Fight It Out gear. When not watching MMA, Amber can be found at the beach playing volleyball, in the gym learning from Tampa’s only female BJJ Black Belt, cheering on her eight-year-old daughter in tae kwon do, or at her day job. She has a girlfriend, daughter, too many dogs and a cat who lives in the attic. Communication highly encouraged at amber at fightitout dot com.