Thirty-four-year-old Liam McGeary is undefeated over the course of his MMA career. The lanky, British-born fighter won Bellator’s light-heavyweight championship in February of 2015, and went on to defend it that fall. But having nursed a nagging leg injury since 2014, McGeary stopped competing to focus on recovery.
Tomorrow night, more than a year after his last fight, he’ll get back in the cage to defend his title against Phil Davis. The stakes are technically the same as any other defense—win and remain champion, lose and don’t—but this particular opponent alters the implications. Davis is a veteran of the UFC, the more prominent MMA league, the branding and prominence of which does a lot for the perception of its athletes. A lot of people assume that UFC fighters are better than Bellator fighters; McGeary has a chance to challenge this assumption.
To get a sense of all that goes into preparing for such a singular match, we spent a full training day with McGeary less than two weeks before the fight. It was exhausting; take a look.
Produced by Hannah Keyser
Cinematography: Max Cantor, Wilson Hester
Edit: Nicholas Stango
Graphics: Devin Clark
Fight footage courtesy Bellator