When it comes to Louisiana and Gulf Coast combat sports, few are more experienced than Baton Rouge’s Joshua Davila. Davila has been fighting since 2012, and he’s got nearly 30 professional mixed martial arts bouts under his belt. On top of that, Davila is a brown belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu, and he remains active in competition.
Davila has a monster of a challenge ahead of him as he steps into the cage for a combat jiu jitsu match against ex-UFC and current BKFC star, Mississippi Mean, Jason “The Kid” Knight at Empire Fighting Championship 2, this Saturday, June 8th, at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and broadcast live on PPV on FITE TV.
I recently spoke with Joshua and got his take on combat jiu jitsu, his journey in mixed martial arts, and what he hopes to bring to Empire Fighting Championship 2 this weekend.
You’re taking on Jason Knight this Saturday in a combat jiu jitsu match at Empire Fighting Championship 2. What do you think he brings to the table, and how do you feel about this match?
“His cardio, he’s going to pressure, pressure. I’ve been trying to look at the rules, because this is my first time doing combat jiu jitsu, so I hope I don’t do anything illegal. The slapping part, I know it might sting a little, and I know he’s going to try to slap the shit out of me. So I’m going to try to stop it, and return the favor.
I feel ready, Jason and I fought on a few cards together in the past, he’s always a scrappy guy, brought a lot of pressure. And, he finally made it to the UFC, which was awesome!! So, I’m kind of a fan of his!
Last time I met Jason, it was at an Atlas fight, I was fighting a black belt, and I think I was a purple at the time. Before the fight, Jason was like ‘go out there and do your thing,’ and I told him I’d try. So I went out there and KO’d the guy with a head kick, and Jason was like ‘damn man, I told you to do your thing, and I didn’t think you were going to do it like that.’ Jason has always been real cool.”
“My wife, she’s a competitor, and she’ll be competing with me on June 22nd at IBJFF in New Orleans. She’s always trying to help me, slap the candy bar out of my hands.”
Where do you come from, and what got you into fighting?
“I was born in Baton Rouge, raised a little bit in Florida, and came back to Baton Rouge in my teenage years. It was always like, back when I grew up, Van Damme movies, and Kickboxer or American Ninja, Ninja Turtles, so I was like ‘man, I want to do karate.’ And, my mom couldn’t really afford it, but one day she put me in karate. During a tournament, I met a kickboxer, and he was having a little competition on the outside if I wanted to try it. Well, I tried it and loved it, because you could actually kick and punch people in the face.
So, then I got into kickboxing, and eventually got into cage fighting. That brought me to jiu jitsu, and I was amazed at how these people could hold me down and put me in submissions so effortlessly. I was like, ‘I got to learn this.’ So, everything else has been just training hard to be the best self that I can be.”
Where are you currently training?
“I’ve got my own gym out in Baton Rouge. My old professor and I recently split, so until I make my name and brand, I’m under Excelsior, but in the future I want to have my own brand and logo. Right now it’s just going to be Team Davila, or maybe Davila Kickboxing and MMA.”
“I’m good at standing up, I like to stand and bang, but my jiu jitsu is getting solid.”
Anybody training with you out there that you’d like to shout-out?
“Yea, I’d like to shout-out my team that stayed with me in Baton Rouge. Some left me and stayed with the Gracie name, and that’s cool, I still love them, as long as they’re doing jiu jitsu and training. But, I want to shout-out the ones who stayed loyal and stayed with me. My wife, she’s a competitor, and she’ll be competing with me on June 22nd at IBJFF in New Orleans. She’s always trying to help me, slap the candy bar out of my hands. Also, a big shout-out to TWebb MMA.”
What do you like most about fighting?
“[When I’m in there], I feel free, I’m not worried about anything else that’s going on. I’m just worried about the guy in front of me, the chess match of skill; to see who can break the other person’s will. At the end, all the hard work you put into it, you feel accomplished.”
What do you feel is your biggest strength?
“I’m good at standing up, I like to stand and bang, but my jiu jitsu is getting solid. I was always good at top pressure, but my guard and my back control are getting really good. I’ve been falling into the leg lock game, and that’s been picking up good, too. I feel like I’m starting to get well-rounded, but there’s always room for improvement.”
“Well, I went out there and knocked him out in the first minute and 10 seconds, and I claimed that belt.”
Any favorite submissions?
“I’ve been catching a lot of people in a D’Arce chokes, that’s kind of my thing, and knee bars. I used to hate the D’Arce when I was a lower rank, could never get them. Then, all of a sudden, I just started hitting them. I’ve been getting them from all kinds of different positions, like, ‘dang, I guess this works.’”
What was it like the first time you stepped into the cage? What was going through your mind?
“The first time, I was nervous. I’d never been in a cage before, and I thought I was ready, because I was kickboxing, I was like 25-1 in kickboxing. But, when I quit kickboxing, I got heavy. I got my weight back down, but wasn’t really at my fighting weight. I think I was fighting at 185 or 180, and the guy I was fighting looked chubby, but strong. I was scared and nervous, but I went in there to hit him with some good shots. But, I got caught. I didn’t get knocked out, but I fell, and the referee thought it was bad, so he called the fight.
I was disappointed, but I went back to training. Then, I fought again in the cage against a guy about to go pro, and he really beat me down. So, I thought to myself, ‘do I want to keep doing this?’ I had to make a decision. So, I made a decision to train even harder, and I started winning fights.”
What are you trying to accomplish in the next 6-12 months?
“I want to get back to 145 lbs. That’s my goal, to lose all of this weight, so, I don’t have to cut so much. And, then try out the 145 lb. division and build my record up. Hopefully, I’d love to fight for a larger organization like One FC or Legacy.”
“I think 20-30 years from now, I will look back and smile, because I did everything that I could to make it.”
What’s been the highest point of your career thus far?
“Back in my amateur days, when I was holding 2 titles [simultaneously]. I won the first 155 lb. Louisiana state championship, and I won a belt in Gonzalez. Then I went pro, and my first pro fight was against a veteran striker, and that was for a title, too. So I was going for a belt my very first pro fight, in a cage, main event. But, there were conditions: it was striking only, with 8 ounce MMA gloves. I didn’t even know they made 8 ounce MMA gloves. Well, I went out there and knocked him out in the first minute and 10 seconds, and I claimed that belt.”
Will getting your black belt surpass that moment?
“Yea, I think. I’ve come this far, I’m not going to quit. But, I’d like to stay at brown for a few more years, win some big titles before going black.”
In 20-30 years when you’re looking back on your career, what would you have had to accomplish in order to think of it as a success?
“I work a lot, I’ve got 4 kids and a wife, and I wasn’t blessed to get any sponsors in my career. So, I think 20-30 years from now I will look back and smile, because I did everything that I could to make it. My goal is still to still make it to the UFC, but even if I don’t, I will still be able to sit back and smile.”
Do you have anything that you’d like to plug, anybody to shout-out, any other upcoming fights?
“I want to thank my team in Baton Rouge, everybody that trains with me, gets me ready, because without them it would be hard to do anything. They’re always pushing me, and I push them. I’d like to shout-out my new professor Nathan Lott. Thank you to everybody that’s opened their doors to me to train in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, all the guys that have always accepted me to come train with them, TWebb MMA, JM Modern Jiu Jitsu, Mid City MMA, shout-out to Gladiators in Lafayette. I like to go to all these gyms and train with them, and they like having me, so it’s always fun.
I’m fighting with Atlas on October 19th, which is my wife and son’s birthday. We’re going out there to fight Kalvin Hackney from Alexandria. It’s a rematch, so I guess he liked how I fought. Atlas has always taken great care of us, and they always put on a professional show. The guys that run that are really great. I’ve never fought for Empire, but I’ve heard nothing but great things about them, too!”
Joshua Davila takes on Jason “The Kid” Knight this Saturday, June 8th, at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and broadcast live on PPV on FITE TV. For more information or to purchase tickets, you can click here.
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