Last time I rooted for someone named "Mr. Wonderful," Paul Orndorff was battling Hulk Hogan inside a steel cage on Saturday Night's Main Event.
These days, there's a new Mr. Wonderful kicking ass on pay-per-view, only difference is, Phil Davis doesn't need to climb his way out of a cage in order to chase his championship, although I'm sure many of his opponent's wish there was an escape hatch inside the Octagon once the kid with the pink tights locks on his anaconda choke.
"ESPN pays you to play video games? The UFC pays me to beat people up," Davis jokes when we meet. "I'd love to have your job. I'm a huge gamer."
So huge, that when I tell him he's going to be a video game character in the upcoming "UFC Undisputed 3," one of the biggest grins I've ever seen overtakes Davis' face and he starts pumping his hammer-like fist in celebration.
"I think we need to add a clause in the game that if you play as me, you need to win. Even if it's a child playing as me, you better let that child win," Davis tells me with a laugh. "I think if you're going to use my character, you better do at least 12 minutes of training in the game every day in order to learn my moves so you don't lose. It's time to get serious people, 12 minutes a day is a must."
Jon Robinson: What are some of your favorite games to play when you get some free time?
Phil Davis: I'm a big "Call of Duty" and "Halo" guy. "Mortal Kombat" is always sick. Those are my main games. Every now and then I hit up the Redbox and rent something new to tryout. I'm always online playing games.
Jon Robinson: Who are your favorite "Mortal Kombat" fighters?
Phil Davis: Sub-Zero and Raiden. I don't go out too far. Even a guy like Cyrax, what is he, like fifth, sixth, or seventh generation "Mortal Kombat"? I like to stick to the original guys. It's not the same Sub-Zero or Raiden ... all of a sudden Raiden has muscles popping out from everywhere, but those two are my guys from day one.
Jon Robinson: Were you a big "Street Fighter" fan growing up?
Phil Davis: I was such a fan of "Mortal Kombat" and "Street Fighter," I think subliminally, somewhere in there made me want to become a fighter. "You will fight!" "Finish him!" [laughs] "Whoopsie!" That was my favorite and it's back in the newest version. I love when they say that.
Jon Robinson: What's it going to feel like to finally see yourself in a video game?
Phil Davis: I don't know if I can even handle it, to tell you the truth. It's going to be crazy to see myself the game. I don't know if I'm ready to see people beat me up like they do in that game. I know when I play "Madden," when I lose, I don't blame me, I blame the guys in the game. But you have to know something about me, I'm not made for team sports, and I know this because even when I play "Madden," if I throw an incompletion, it's not because I missed a button, it's because Ben Roethlisberger didn't throw the ball. I'm just like, "C'mon Roethlisberger," and I start talking trash about the guy because of what his video game character just did. Now people are going to start talking trash about me. Like I said, I don't think I'm ready for that. "That Punch was horrible Phil! Get back in the gym Phil!" [laughs] I don't even want to know what people are going to say about me. No matter how good my stats are, they're never good enough when you're playing the game.
Jon Robinson: You have a big fight coming up against Rashad Evans. How are you approaching what is, no doubt, the biggest battle of your career so far?
Phil Davis: This is my chance to be where I want to be in this sport. I didn't come into this sport to be Top 5 or to be ranked in the Top 10. None of that interests me. As far as I'm concerned, I'm still the fighter I was three years ago. You're either number one or you're nothing, in my opinion, when it comes to me. Anybody else, if you're second or third, congratulations, that's good for you, but I'm not satisfied until I'm number one. I want to get to that belt and he's blocking me. The way I look at it, there's no pressure on me. I've been the underdog in every one of my fights, and I like it that way.
Jon Robinson: They have a career mode in the new "UFC Undisputed 3 game." What's the one thing about a fighter's career or their training that the average gamer might not realize when they're playing the game?
Phil Davis: When I first started training in mixed-martial arts, every day I shadowboxed for at least three rounds. It's to the point now where I need to be doing at least five just to break a sweat. But when I first started, those three rounds got me all the way, legitimately tired. And I was in good shape. I was just coming off of the national championship, I was 24-years old, fresh, strong and all of that, but two or three minutes of shadowboxing just tired me out. I wasn't even hitting anything. There was nothing in front of me, but I was getting so tired. So I hope when people play the game, they'll realize just how hard our training is. There's a lot more to it than people think.
I hope when people play the "UFC" games, they also realize some of the strategy that goes into our sport. It's not just about random punches and kicks. It's about learning how to throw punches and kicks in a sequence. It's about knowing that after you throw a one-two, there's usually a three to follow. So if you know that your opponent is expecting the three, you can fake it and throw another two. I'd like for fans to be able to mimic this in the game and know why different combinations work. I would love for people to fake a move, force their opponent to duck, then land a flying knee, not just because they got lucky by hitting a few random buttons, but because they're actually learning some of our strategy by playing the game.
Jon Robinson: How good do you expect your character to be in "UFC Undisputed 3"?
Phil Davis: It's scary to even think about. I don't want to see me up on the TV all bloody. I hope I never get beat. Could you imagine if the game came out and when THQ checked the online stats, nobody lost as me for like six months? That would be the best. I'd be at home like, "Yes! I told you, baby!" Raiden might lose fights online, but that Phil guy, nobody can beat him. [laughs]