Over the past few years, Bellator MMA has collected top prospects from the sport of wrestling. Young phenom Aaron Pico and Penn State champion Ed Ruth captured the public eye early. Bellator has featured them prominently on stacked cards and PPV events. Compton’s Joey Davis has been skating under the radar on the prelims, and the slow build continues March 29th at Bellator 219. Davis will face Jesse Merritt according to Joey Davis Sr. AKA “Big Joey”.
Joey Davis vs. Jesse Merritt at Bellator 219
Return of a Legend
For the uninformed, Davis made history in his unorthodox wrestling career. For the Division 2 program Notre Dame College, he became the first NCAA wrestler to go undefeated and win four titles in just four years. He did so at three different weight classes. The Division 1 great Cael Sanderson took a redshirt year, in which he actually lost a match. Division 3’s Marcus LeVesseur spent the better part of a season at the University of Minnesota before transferring. But Joey Davis started as a true freshman, and went undefeated in both Division 1 and Division 2 competition. It is a record that will likely never be broken.
As an MMA prospect, Davis shows more promise than someone like Ruth as far as depth of skill is concerned. He’s been raised under the tutelage of MMA veteran Antonio McKee. McKee was his first and best wrestling coach, they started together when Davis was just five years old. While he’s still relatively green as a prospect, Davis has been exposed to and training in MMA since he was a kid. He’s much more akin to Pico than Ruth in that regard.
“Juvenile” Jesse Merritt
Unlike Ruth and Pico, Davis is content to pace his rise to contention. While his first four opponents presented challenges, they were not the upper class of the welterweight division.
Boston born Jesse Merritt is a veteran of New England’s Cage Titans organization, but he has since relocated to California.
His recent losses have all come to tough fighters. Ultimate Fighter veterans Jamie Yager and Marc Stevens, and GLORY kickboxer Casey Greene all defeated Merritt before his last fight.
Merritt last fought at Bellator 214 in Los Angeles, where he was submitted by a talented and experienced grappler in Thor Skancke.
Merritt has taken plenty of losses, but there is no doubt he is battle tested.
From Compton to Cleveland
Not many know the incredible story of Joey Davis. He came from extreme poverty in violence and crime-plagued Compton, California.
Stay tuned for the release of a biography detailing his rise from nothing to a living legend in the sport of wrestling.