Penn State Wrestling Alumni Phil Davis, Ed Ruth Light Up BJC During Bellator 186
Penn State wrestling alumni Phil Davis and Ed Ruth picked up victories in their respective fights as part of Bellator 186 at the Bryce Jordan Center on Friday night.
After a round of nine preliminary fights, Ruth and Davis fought as part of the event’s main card. Neither fought for a title in their respective weight classes; Ruth fought in a middleweight feature event, followed immediately by Davis’ light heavyweight feature fight.
Ruth was a three-time national champion and a four-time All American during his four years at Penn State, but on Friday, he took a 3-0 record into the cage against Chris Dempsey, who is 11-5 throughout his career.
Ruth, who held a five-inch reach advantage over Dempsey, had the majority of the crowd behind him for the middleweight bout. “Easy” Ed recorded the first takedown of the fight less than a minute in, using his wrestling expertise to control the fight on the ground.
Ed Ruth lands a punch on Chris Dempsey. Photo by Shannon Soboslay/Onward State
After this initial takedown, Ruth controlled the fight on the ground for the next two minutes before Dempsey finally escaped. After the two traded blows standing up, the round ended with a Dempsey takedown and submission attempt.
Round two only lasted 26 seconds; an Ruth right hand devastated Dempsey and sent him crumbling to the ground. The referee ended the fight and Ruth improved to 4-0 in his Bellator career.
Ed Ruth defeated Chris Dempsey in Bellator 186 at the Bryce Jordan Center. Photo by Shannon Soboslay/Onward State
Davis took on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist Leo Leite in the third fight of the main card. Davis, who has adopted the nickname “Mr. Wonderful,” boasted an impressive 17-4 Bellator record prior to Friday's brawl.
The fight was a matchup of strength vs. strength; Leite specializes in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, while Davis’ biggest strength is wrestling, as evidenced by his illustrious Penn State career.
In round one, Davis got off to an aggressive start, throwing the majority of the first few strikes of the bout. After Davis was grappled onto the cage, he turned it around and pinned his Brazilian opponent onto the barrier before recording the first takedown of the round.
With two minutes left in the first round, Davis went for a home run head kick that certainly would’ve knocked out Leite if it connected, but the Brazilian slipped out of it at the last second. Leite responded with a strong combination of punches to Davis’ face.
Davis clearly wanted the knockout, throwing an assortment of huge punches with both hands, but none of them connected. Not much else happened in the later stages of the first round, and it came to a close in relatively tame fashion.
In the second frame, Leite started the round in a defensive posture before Davis landed a vicious leg kick. The round was paused when Leite appeared visibly injured, much to the chagrin of the BJC crowd on hand.
Once things got restarted, the Brazilian came out flying, landing several big punches and kicks. Davis blocked a takedown attempt midway through the round and both fighters did well to block each other’s strikes throughout the round.
With 90 seconds left in the round, Davis backed his opponent up to the cage and controlled the fight from the clinch. He did not officially register a takedown before Leite escaped. The second round concluded with the two exchanging big strikes, most of which were blocked.
The third and final round saw more of the same from the first two rounds, but fatigue began to set in for both fighters. Davis began to land strikes one minute into the round, but the two appeared content to shadowbox.
The first takedown attempt of the round by Davis failed, but he did manage to back Leite up to the cage. He briefly controlled the fight from the clinch before the Brazilian escaped.
Davis appeared to hold the edge in strikes connected midway through the third round, but he could not manage to register a successful takedown.
With 90 seconds left in the fight, Davis clinched onto Leite and landed a knee to the head, backing his opponent up onto the cage. He landed three more knees before Leite escaped back to the center of the ring.
Davis’ 22nd Bellator fight went the distance; the result of the fight was now in the judges’ hands. Ultimately, the judges unanimously named Davis the victor.
Penn State wrestling coach Cael Sanderson sat ringside while watching two of his former wrestlers do battle in a different setting. He was interviewed between Ruth and Davis’ fights and received a warm welcome from the BJC crowd.