If Dana White was trying to get a rise out of Phil Davis, it might have worked.
The UFC president told reporters this week in Orlando that he doesn’t see a ton of ambition in Davis and Davis has not made it known to him that he wants a title shot in the light heavyweight division.
"He’s one of the best light heavyweights in the world, but he doesn’t come off to me like I’ve got guys (who are) breathing down my f***ing neck for fights: ‘I want this fight. I want this, I want that,’" White said after the FOX UFC Saturday pre-fight press conference Thursday.
Just minutes after White made those comments, Davis told FOX Sports in a phone interview that the boss is "going to regret saying that."
Davis’ message to White? "I’m going to beat the breaks off Anthony Johnson and then I will call and text you every day until you change that statement," he said.
I’m going to beat the breaks off Anthony Johnson and then I will call and text you every day until you change that statement.
-Phil Davis' message to Dana White
Davis fights Johnson in the co-main event of UFC 172 on Saturday night in Baltimore. He’s already ranked No. 4 among light heavyweight contenders, but a victory could put him in line for a title shot at some point, at least after Alexander Gustafsson and Daniel Cormier get theirs. White’s problem is that Davis, who actually has a win over Gustafsson, is not very vocal about it.
“Phil Davis is like, ‘Eh, I’ll hang out around No. 4 here,’" White said. "He’s not that guy that comes across to me like, ‘I f–king want it. I want to be the champ. I want to be the best in the world.’ He’s just sort of, ‘Eh.’”
Davis, 29, admits he’s a quiet guy. He’s not burning up White’s phone like other contenders across the division and he’s not so comfortable doing that.
"I’m not sure what the politics are like to get a title shot," Davis said. "I’m not sure how much you want me to ask for it. I just beat people."
Although that asking part is going to change if he beats Johnson, he said, and obviously he believes he will. When Joe Rogan talks to him afterward, Davis plans on having quite a few things to get off his chest.
"The first way I will say it is the way I beat Anthony Johnson and the second way I’ll say it is what I have to say after the fight," Davis said.
Davis has won three straight fights and hasn’t lost since January 2012 to Rashad Evans. That was the only defeat of his career. The Alliance MMA fighter was once thought of as a top prospect. He’s not young enough for that anymore, but he remains one of the most physically talented fighters in the 205-pound division — and someone who could give champion Jon Jones trouble with his NCAA wrestling champion pedigree and strength.
But while Davis is a world-class talent, he doesn’t do two things that elevate you in the fickle fight game: trash talk or finish opponents regularly. Davis has only finished three of his eight UFC victories.
Davis wants it to be clear, though. Any type of thinking that he doesn’t want to reach the next level in the UFC is a "miscommunication."
"You don’t say Phil Davis doesn’t want a title shot," he said, "because Phil Davis wants a title shot."