Over his first two years NCAA wrestling, Joey Davis has won two national titles and accumulated a record of 72-0 for Division II Notre Dame College in Cleveland (abbreviated NDC, not the University of Notre Dame). Last year Davis, who wrestles at 174 pounds, also helped NDC to it's first ever Division II team national championship.
This week top wrestling journalist Andrew Hipps, of Intermat caught up with Davis, and asked him about his potential future as a mixed martial artist, and what it was like to grow up in Compton playing youth football for rap superstar Snoop Dogg.
Hipps: You have known the rapper Snoop Dogg since you were young. He even gave you your nickname Iceman. How would you describe Snoop Dogg to people who have never met him?
Davis: He's the coolest dude you could ever meet. He's very laid back. He's very into sports and very into the kids. He would do anything for the kids. That's why he made the Snoop Dogg youth football league for the inner-city kids. Coach Snoop is amazing. He's like another Coach Romano [Davis' current college coach]. Everybody wanted to be under his wing. Shout out to Coach Snoop. It was a blessing to play for him all those years...
Hipps: The Olympic weight classes are 74 kilos, which is 163 pounds, and 86 kilos, which is 189 pounds. You competed this past season in college at 174 pounds, which is in between those two Olympic weight classes. What weight class do you expect to compete in as a freestyle wrestler if you make an Olympic run?
Davis: 189 probably. I don't think I could ever make 163, even though I'm not big now. I'm like 5'11" and weigh 185, but I feel like as I keep growing I'll fit into the 189-pound weight class pretty well. I'll hit the weight room. I want to fight too. I'm 5-0 in amateur fights. So I've been training for that. My uncle is Antonio McKee, who trains Rampage. I just left Rampage yesterday. I met his boxing coaches. I'm going to be taking a boxing class. So I might not even wrestle after college. I might just go right into my coaching career, and then fight. I have some options. I'm just training, training, training, and enjoying my life. But if I do train for the Olympics it will be at 189, not 163.
Hipps: Who are some of your favorite fighters?
Davis: I love Jose Aldo. I love Urijah Faber. I love Rampage. Those are probably my favorites. I love my uncle Antonio McKee ... Just that type of style, takedown, brutal on top, and can hit hard. I feel like I'm one of those kind of dudes. I'm very athletic. I grew up fighting my whole life. I come from Compton. So when it comes to MMA, I just love it. I love the grind. I love punching. I love taking people down. I love slamming. It's just different from wrestling. You get a different kind of anciness in you. In wrestling they can't hurt you unless you get in a certain position. In MMA it's like this dude is really trying to hurt you. I love that anciness. I love that grind. I fight nothing like Jose Aldo, but he's one of my favorite MMA fighters that I would try to be like with his kicks and punches.
Speaking from a personal perspective, I think that Davis' chances of entering MMA are high. The way current Olympic weight classes stand, he is probably stuck between 74 kg and 86 kg, and will be for the foreseeable future. Additionally he is a close blood relative of UFC vet and pro trainer Antonio McKee, and has a meaningful relationship with Quinton Jackson and other members of the MMA community.
Finally, do not be deceived by the fact that Davis wrestles for a mere Division II school. NDC is the top school in Division II at the moment and as good, or better, than 75% of Division I schools. When Davis has faced Division I competition, he has fared well; last year he beat Pitt All American Tyler Wilps, and Division I national qualifiers Mike Ottinger of Central Michigan and Mark Martin of Ohio State.
Davis is a top flight talent, with a top flight high school pedigree. His prep career saw him place high at numerous national tournaments, win two prestigious California state championships and earn a ranking as one of the nation's top recruits. At NDC, Davis has flourished, and it looks like he will remain for his remaining two years of eligibility rather than transfer to a Division I school.
Stylistically, Davis should convert to MMA pretty easily. He possesses elite athleticism, fluid movement and a devastating double leg. I've added an older video of him wrestling Edinboro's Johnny Greisheimer, a solid Division I wrestler. Remember that Davis is much bigger and better now.