Davis hopes another win on AXS TV Friday leads him down the same path of other network TV stars

Photo courtesy of Will Paul
LUDLOW, MASSACHUSETTS LIGHTWEIGHT Leon Davis (left), seen here during his win over Andres Jeudi at “CES MMA XXX,” aims for his second win on AXS TV when he faces Colorado’s Lorawnt-T Nelson Friday, April 1st, 2016 at The Fox Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino on the main card of “CES MMA 34,” which airs live on the network’s AXS TV Fights series. Davis defeated Jeudi in his AXS TV debut and is in his search of his second consecutive win and fourth in his last six bouts.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (March 30th, 2016) It takes a certain characteristic, an inherent, natural ability, to perform at your best when you know the whole world’s watching.

In mixed martial arts, some fighters wilt under the pressure of the sport’s biggest stage. Others excel. In its brief history with AXS TV, CES MMA has developed a rapidly-growing culture of fighters that have peaked when the cameras begin rolling.

Dinis Paiva, Kody Nordby, Luis Felix, Greg Rebello — they’re all part of a short list of regional standouts who’ve gained immeasurable popularity through their exposure on national television. They’ve performed at their best under the most intense scrutiny, similar to a basketball player who drains the game-winning shot or a baseball player who comes up with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth.

Ludlow, Mass., vet Leon Davis (7-3, 1 KO) thinks he has what it takes to earn the label of a clutch performer and hopes to once again succeed on the AXS TV platform Friday night when he faces lightweight Lorawnt-T Nelson (7-4, 5 KOs) of Arvada, Colo., on the main card of “CES MMA 34” at The Fox Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino.

“Fighting on national television doesn’t really change anything,” Davis insists. “I always go into every fight with the mindset and preparation to give 100 percent.”

Even so, it’s hard to deny Davis’ early appeal to the network television audience. He made his AXS TV debut in August on the main card of “CES MMA XXX,” defeating Andres Jeudi by unanimous decision. With another televised fight on deck this week, a second win could make him an AXS TV favorite, and it’s no secret what that kind of exposure can do.

Ohio welterweight Dominique Steele made only one appearance with CES MMA on the AXS TV format and parlayed his televised win over Chuck O’Neil in June of 2015 into a promotion to the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC), where he’s scheduled to fight again in April on the undercard of UFC 197 in Las Vegas.

“The TV platform has brought out the best in me,” Davis said. “I have always fought the toughest opponents that are out there and I’ve always been thankful to [CES MMA vice president] Jimmy Burchfield Jr. and [matchmaker] Pat Sullivan and the rest of the CES MMA staff for letting me make the most of my professional career and for the guidance to get where I ultimately want to be, which is the UFC.”

Davis has fought some of the best competition in the region, including Nate Andrews, Lewis Corapi and Jimmy Davidson, the latter whom he defeated at “CES MMA XXVI” in his most recent appearance with the promotion. Sandwiched in between was his lone appearance with the World Series of Fighting on NBC Sports, a knockout loss to Islam Mamedov, his only loss over the past two and a half years.

Nelson is no pushover either. A two-time Bellator vet, five of his seven wins have come by knockout and he’s only gone the distance twice in 11 pro fights. Only time well whether or not the AXS TV platform is right for Davis, but another win Friday would be a good start toward building some rapport with the network’s loyal fan base.

“I train my fucking ass off and I go out there leaving no regrets,” Davis said. “I always leave everything in the cage.”

Tickets for “CES MMA 34” are priced at $40.00, $60.00 and $100.00 (VIP) and can be purchased online at www.cesmma.com, www.ticketmaster.com or www.foxwoods.com, by phone at 401-724-2253/2254 or 800-200-2882, or at the Fox Theater Box Office. All bouts are subject to change. Showtime is 7 p.m. ET.

The five-round main event of “CES MMA 34” features the return of reigning CES MMA Welterweight Champion Chris Curtis (13-4, 5 KOs) of Cincinnati, who defends his title for the first time in a rematch against Philadelphia’s Nah-Shon Burrell (12-6, 8 KOs), one of five televised bouts on the AXS TV Fights main card.

Curtis and Burrell fought one another in October of 2010 with Curtis winning by unanimous decision, Burrell’s first loss in three pro fights. Burrell won his next six, including three in a row with Strikeforce before the promotion was bought out by the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC).

The main card of “CES MMA 34” also features a middleweight bout between Calvin Kattar (14-2, 6 KOs) of Methuen, Mass., and Cortland, N.Y., vet Kenny Foster (11-10, 1 KO), a seven-time Bellator vet. Kattar last fought in 2013, beating Gabriel Baino for his sixth consecutive win, and is also remembered for defeating Saul Almeida at CES MMA’s “Real Pain” pay per view event in Providence in 2012. The 5-foot-8 Foster boasts win over Lester Caslow and Eric Larkin and also went the distance against 30-fight vet Anthony Morrison at Bellator 108.

Heavyweight Steve Skrzat (8-7, 7 KOs) of Burrillville, R.I., faces Rollinsford, N.H., vet Kevin Haley (4-3, 1 KO). Also on the main card, Johnny Campbell (11-7, 5 KOs) of Boston battles Matt Lozano (5-3, 2 KO) of Red Lion, Pa., in a bantamweight bout.

The “CES MMA 34” preliminaries feature four exciting bouts, including a middleweight showdown between unbeatens Carlos Candelario (2-0) of New Britain, Conn., and Syracuse’s Luay Ashkar (2-0), plus the professional debuts of bantamweight Geoffrey Then and Michael Maldonado, both fighting out of Danbury, Conn. Then battles Merab Dvalishvili (1-2, 1 KO) of Long Island, N.Y., and Maldonado faces Stoughton, Mass., native George Nassar (1-0). The prelims also feature a light heavyweight bout between Cape Cod’s Matt Thompson (19-10, 7 KOs) and Anton Berzin (3-1) of Philadelphia. The 29-fight veteran Thompson appeared for CES MMA in 2014 and defeated Eric Bedard via submission


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