Mike Davis might be one of the best UFC prospects who never gets to fight

Mike Davis has been forced to withdraw from another fight due to injury.
Mike Davis
Mike Davis / Handout/GettyImages

Few fighters bring as much ferocity to the Octagon as Mike Davis. With six cancellations in 12 scheduled UFC fights, Davis is increasingly seen as a 'What-If?' fighter. Plagued with injuries, he recently announced his withdrawal from the biggest fight of his career against Drew Dober at UFC Denver in July. This news disappointed thousands of UFC fans, including Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who called his bicep injury "terrible" in a comment on Davis' announcement post.

Davis cut his teeth on the regional fighting circuit, picking up a seven-fight win streak between MMA and boxing (14 if you count his amateur career). Davis' lethal Muay Thai and finishing instinct earned him a spot on 2018's Dana White's Contender Series, where he and Sodiq Yusuff put on one of the best fights in the show's history. Yusuff won by a narrow decision and became a force in the UFC's featherweight division.

Returning to the regional circuit, Davis picked up two more finishes before finally being signed to the UFC. It wasn't an easy debut, as he replaced Eric Wisely in a lightweight contest against future welterweight title challenger Gilbert Burns. The fight was incredibly competitive, but Burns wasted no time in the second round, taking Davis down and submitting him with a rear-naked choke.

Following the loss, Davis sharpened his tools by winning the 2019 Tiger Muay Thai tryouts, earning him a one-year sponsorship at one of Thailand's most prestigious and brutal Muay Thai training camps. However, Davis wouldn't get to use his new honed striking skills just yet, as his next UFC fight was cancelled—this would be a recurring theme in Davis' five-year UFC career.

Mike Davis has had 6 cancellations in 12 scheduled UFC fights

One month later, in October 2019, Davis was rebooked against Thomas Gifford in a mismatch of the year. Davis beat Gifford from pillar to post with rib-crushing body shots and lights-out flying knees. The UFC broadcast team cried out in horror at the appalling beatdown. Gifford stoically made it into round three, but Davis' right hand put him spark out, and he fell face-first into the canvas.

This fan-pleasing performance should have been Davis' breakout moment, but back-to-back cancellations removed him from the headlines once again. He withdrew from two fights against rising star Giga Chikadze in February and April 2019 and didn't fight again until January 2021 as he recovered from injuries.

This time, Davis faced undefeated Cage Warriors prospect Mason Jones. Though Jones fought well, he couldn't match Davis' striking skills. The bout was closely contested, but Davis delivered relentless punishment; any lesser fighter would have fallen that night. Davis put his name back on the map for fight fans, but more cancellations would soon hinder his progress.

Davis vs. Jones earned fight of the night - the only bonus in Davis' UFC career. Still, this wouldn't be enough to deter his misfortune, as Davis withdrew from his UFC London fight against Jai Herbert because of monetary issues.

"My entire global income will be taxed by [the] UK and by the US," Davis told Fight Bananas. "Then I gotta pay management, and I gotta pay camp then I gotta pay gym. So I’m going home with like five percent of my purse... so it just doesn’t make sense to take the fight."

This decision came with a cost. Davis' next opponent, Uros Medic, withdrew from their scheduled fight. Fortunately, Davis found a replacement in Viacheslav Borschev, whom he defeated. It was a notable victory, but it took place at the empty UFC APEX venue, which lacked fan exposure.

His win over Borschev was soon eclipsed by an almost two-year break from competition. His most recent fight was a submission victory against Natan Levy in March 2024, once more at the crowdless UFC APEX venue.

MMA takes no prisoners, and Davis is no exception. A striker of his skill should be featured on the main card of a PPV or headlining smaller events if not aiming for a title shot. However, due to injuries and opponent withdrawals, fans may never witness Davis compete at his peak in the octagon. Unless there's a remarkable turnaround in his career trajectory, Davis could be remembered as one of the most underrated and underutilized talents in UFC history.