Peter Davis is a famous model in Malaysia and one of ONE Championship’s most marketable stars, but it hasn’t always been like this for the 34-year-old.
Ten years ago he was selling mortgages in England, but events elsewhere would lead him to make a dramatic change of career.
Davis’ mother is Malaysian and his father is English. He was brought up near Brighton but at the age of 26 suddenly found himself looking for new employment after the credit crunch caused carnage in the mortgage industry.
“I was in a financial services role, having fun and hopefully going places. I lost the job when the world financial crisis started to have its effect on non-conforming mortgages which was my field of work.”
There can be few lines of work less glamorous than ‘non-conforming mortgages’ and perhaps this was why Davis felt the need to train martial arts and take the occasional MMA fight. He made his debut in 2004 and competed twice that year before returning to the cage in 2006.
At the time he was still working full time and was forced to try and fit training sessions around his schedule of 9-5 shifts in the office. Davis would be the first to admit that martial arts was more of a hobby than a serious career choice.
“I first started training when I was 20, it was just for fun and to try something new. There was a Malaysian in the area who was teaching a form of Kung Fu which I’ve found to be extremely effective and I started going to the classes.”
Davis never moved to Malaysia to become a fighter. His mother’s family is there and he wanted to visit them and to try his luck in a much more glamorous industry.
“On a previous trip to Malaysia a friend had suggested that I should try modelling. After losing my job in the UK I decided to come out to Malaysia for a six month holiday and to give modelling a go. I was no natural but I worked at it and the job offers started to come in.”
When you are frequently required to be partially clothed in front of the camera it pays to be in shape and Davis continued his training regime in Kuala Lumpur.
“I did carry on training as my trainer was from Kuala Lumpur and the original training dojo was in Malaysia, close enough to where I stayed to get over and train.”
Davis actually agreed to fight Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) black belt Gregor Gracie on ONE Championship’s inaugural card back in September, 2011 but the matchup fell apart at the last minute.
“I was far from ready, but my heart told me to go for it. Luckily though there was a slip up and the match up was announced by mistake before the official word meaning that I lost the opportunity, quite possibly a blessing in disguise as that was at welterweight and I’m now in the lightweight category.”
He would go on to fight eight times for ONE Championship, winning seven of those matches to establish himself as Malaysia’s biggest MMA star. Every time the promotion puts together a card in Kuala Lumpur he fights on it and Davis says he did not have to think too long before signing his first bout agreement.
“I knew it would be an exciting opportunity to fight for ONE. The first time I was offered a fight I had to have a think about it as my job at the time was as a professional model and actor. I took some time to think and decided ‘why not?’ so here we are.”
Davis’ overall MMA record is 10-3 but he has the toughest fight of his entire career coming up this Friday night (local time). The Malaysian is facing Adrian Pang at ONE: ‘Tigers of Asia’ in Kuala Lumpur, an Australian opponent who is a veteran of over 30 fights and has won multiple titles in his competitive career.
You definitely can’t accuse the Malaysian model of taking easy fights and Davis knows he is in for a potentially rough ride against Pang.
“He’s a tough guy, built like a tank with solid takedowns and ground and pound. Let’s hope my game plan works out.”
One thing which Davis will be guaranteed is the passionate support of the fans in Stadium Putra. He is guaranteed to get the biggest cheer of the night whenever he fights in Malaysia and says this is a source of great inspiration to him.
“It’s great to have them behind me, in turn that support keeps me going through thick and thin. Training is hard, weight cutting is hard and fighting is hard too. All the support helps to keep me motivated.”
Eleven years has passed since Davis made his MMA debut at a small show in Essex. He’s now one of Malaysia’s most recognizable athletes but when the time comes for him to retire from fighting there might just be another martial arts star in the pipeline to replace him.
“My son Preston is five years old and he’s already done some modelling. I don’t push him to do it but it’s usually a fun day out meeting new people. He is also doing Taekwondo and is about to start BJJ. Just to give him some discipline and get him to learn in a fun environment.”