Mixed martial artist Parnell Davis to make pro debut in January
Parnell Davis is going pro.
The Mt. Pleasant mixed martial artist has a 5-2 record as an amateur fighter, and now he has decided to take the next step up — fighting professionally.
His professional debut will be Jan. 12 at Memorial Auditorium in Burlington. He will be fighting against John Reed, a judo practitioner from northern Iowa.
The fight will be his first since his loss in August to Jason Huebbe in the Extreme Challenge Super Fight Series Heavyweight Tournament Championship, which was a fight for a professional contract.
“I did not come out a victor, but learned a lot from the loss, and I’ll take the lessons with me,” Davis said.
Since he isn’t currently signed with any one organization or under a contract, Davis can continue to fight wherever and whenever he chooses.
But now he has the opportunity to fight for money.
“It’s nice to get paid a little more,” Davis said. “When you’re an amateur, you get paid on commission from ticket sales, and that opportunity is still there. But when you’re a professional, there’s a set amount you can make — you get this much for showing up, and this much for winning.
“That’s not the whole purpose of going pro,” he added, “but it helps with another baby on the way.”
Davis and his wife, Norma, have a son, Jeremiah, and are expecting another baby in July.
Being a professional also opens doors for fighters.
“Amateur fighting is like practice,” Davis said. “When you go pro, it depends on how good your record is, but there are a lot of opportunities out there.
“The pool of fighters has increased and (televised organizations like UFC) are looking for new fighters. I want to take this as far as God allows me.”
Since he started MMA, Davis has been training with Lowell’s Gabe Lemley, who has experience as a professional fighter. Lemley’s American Bulldog Gym in Mt. Pleasant is home to many other local fighters, some of whom will have amateur competitions on Jan. 12 in Burlington.
For Davis, training has changed only slightly since he decided he wanted to fight professionally.
There are a couple new rules in professional fighting — for example, the pros are allowed to throw elbows to the face and throw knees when an opponent is standing.
As far as that rule change goes, Davis has a leg up.
“We practice those in pads at Gabe’s,” Davis said. “We’ve worked on it since I started, and now I’ll be able to actually use it. It seems insignificant, but the ability to do that enhances a bunch of things, and it makes other guys second-guess themselves.”
Davis has also begun working with a personal trainer in Iowa City on the weekends.
“I’m still focused on the basics,” Davis said. “We’ve been focusing on eating habits, diet. I work on circuit training and functional strength training, as opposed to weight training.”
His training isn’t the only thing that remains the same. Davis’ goals in fighting haven’t changed a bit.
“At the forefront of everything I do, I want to reflect God,” Davis said. “My training and everything I’m doing is centered around my relationship with God — that’s the biggest aspect of my training.”
That focus also plays into his clothing line. Manhood Fightwear apparel has been around for a while, but Davis is still working on expanding to equipment and getting the website up and running.
The online debut was planned for the end of December, but has been pushed back to January.
“We’re still finalizing things with the fighter that we’re signing,” Davis said. “I don’t want to launch the website without going full force.”
Davis can’t give away specifics, but he is in the process of signing a high-profile fighter to represent Manhood Fighter, which includes wearing the clothing on televised fights.
But the website will do a lot more than sell apparel, according to Davis.
“It’s a multimedia source that targets men,” Davis said. “I want them to be inspired and encouraged. I’ll post videos and devotionals and links to non-profit sites.
“It goes beyond the fighting aspect,” he added. “I’m really stoked about that.”
Davis says that the inspiration for the site comes from his own life.
“I’m still learning to balance everything: husbandhood, fatherhood, and holding down a nine-to-five job.”
He does all of that on top of fighting, but his busyness can’t dampen his excitement about this next step.
“It’s still exciting to make this jump,” Davis said. “It all starts with this one fight.”