It's funny sometimes how one single decision can change an entire life. UFC Fighter Devin Powell made that decision when he chose to take his love of the W.E.C. (World Extreme Cagefighting) to the next level and learn some martial arts skills himself. How many fans are saying right now that they wish they have done the same? It takes courage to step into the unknown. For Powell, it has been worth every minute.
Tell us a little bit about the path that brought you to MMA.
"When I was in high school huge into playing music. I played guitar in a band. After high school, everyone went to college and it was harder to play music. I went to one year of college and realized it wasn't for me. I got a job working at a passport office. I was unhappy and I would come home late at night and W.E.C. Wreckage would be on. Carlos Condit was destroying people and it was something I thought I could fall in love with.
Devin Powell had no martial arts background at the time. Despite that fact, he knew there had to be more to life than clocking in and out of a job he didn't care for and spending his nights admiring those who seemed to be living in a world most only dream of. Going to work in a locked metal cage instead of a cubicle may not sound appealing to everyone, but Powell wouldn't want it any other way.
When you walked into a martial arts gym for the first time, you had absolutely no experience. What was that like in the beginning?
"It was a little overwhelming in a good way. It was insane when I realized how much there was to learn. I started off with jiu-jitsu and then picked up Muay Thai. I actually had my first fight before having any real MMA training. We didn't even have padded walls in that gym. We practiced in a Muay Thai ring with ropes. The first time I fought was the first time I experienced a cage or any wall work.
Did you have any athletic background, before combat sports?
"I poorly played sports. In junior high, my football coach said that I was the slowest person he had ever seen and said I should be a lineman even though I was a receiver.
At what point did you know that this is what you wanted to do for a living?
"I started with jiu-jitsu tournaments and did some amateur MMA and boxing. Then I found out I was going to have a kid. I realized that I needed to go pro and make some money. I was the number one amateur in the Northeast at 155 pounds, so it was a good time to make the transition.
I had my daughter. She's six now. The place I originally started training closed down. A friend of mine owned an MMA gym. I trained at Port City Jiu-Jitsu and did striking and MMA at another place. Then that place was going to close down and I was offered the opportunity to take it over and create my own academy in the same spot.
Devin Powell is the founder and head instructor at Nostos MMA in Somersworth, New Hampshire. The school has a number of high-level coaches and offers training in multiple disciplines as well as fitness classes.
"It was a huge gamble and for the first full year, I was still working 40 hours a week at the passport office. I was teaching, training and my daughter was about two years old then.
You've made it to the UFC. It has been a rough road. What has been the hardest part?
"It might be going in the first fight. It took me a minute before I found my footing and figured it out. Drakkar Klose trains in Arizona at The Lab, which is a high-level training camp with a lot of great competitors. We don't have that here and I went from that to fighting one of the top prospects.
Devin Powell was signed to the UFC after winning a tough fight on Dana White's TV series "Looking for a Fight." He fought twice for the UFC in 2017. His first bout was a decision loss to Klose.
"I don't even remember Bruce Buffer announcing my name or anything. It was all a blur. After that, I went down to American Top Team to get a different feel. Now I train with Joe Lauzon regularly. North East fighters have rallied recently and figured out how to train together. I now understand the importance of having the right people and the experience before going in.
What did your family think of the path you have chosen?
"Nobody ever expected me to do this. I don't know what they thought I was going to do. The only thing I was good at was playing music. They watched me and kinda realized how good I was at it.
My mom has never seen me fight but she's been to all my fights except for those in the UFC. She doesn't fly, which is unfortunate. She goes into the bathroom and waits for a text to tell her when it's over. My wife didn't do any of this before, but she competes now and just had her first fight not long ago.
You have spoken before about longevity in the sport. How do you keep your body and mind conditioned for the long haul?
"The idea of longevity is huge. In this sport, you basically have to make your impact and get out. There are things you have to do besides eating healthy and staying in shape. I only spar now when I'm in camp. I'll do light sparring throughout regular training but brain damage is a real concern. I think everyone gets excited at some point in their career and gets hit too hard too often.
Taking care of injuries is important. I use Receptra CBD oil drops orally and the Targeted Topical, topically. I became interested in CBD when I saw a news story on the effect it had on a seizing child. If it can have that kind of impact in a situation like that, I believe it can have an effect on my brain and help with trauma from head injuries. It also helps me to relax, sleep better and lets my muscles recover efficiently.
I also have a Pure Wave portable massager at the gym and at the house. It helps a lot with recovery as well.
How difficult is it to both coach and compete?
When he is not in fight camp, Devin Powell teaches six days a week. Owning a school and training to compete can put a lot of pressure on a fighter.
"It keeps me honest. I'm always in the gym drilling. People have times when they fall out but I'm always there. We have a lot of great coaches at our gym and I take other coach's classes. And I also do the drills in the classes I teach. Once I have a fight I taper down my classes. Students are usually excited and they understand. Sometimes we will see an impact and drop in attendance if I am not there. But 90 percent of them all understand.
Here is the big question. How is your testicle?
Devin Powell was recently involved in a training incident that caused him to make headlines in TMZ news and even constituted an interview segment with Jim Rome.
"It's hanging in there. It was a crazy freak accident. It was a jiu-jitsu accident with Joe Lauzon. We were rolling and he was trying to pass my guard. He did a knee cut which smashed my testicle against my pelvic bone and the testicle exploded. I showered and tried to shake it off. The pain didn't subside. I tried to go to the clinic down the road and use UFC insurance. They basically told me to kick rocks, so we left. I tried to kinda hang in and see if it would get better. Everyone kept saying I should get it checked. So, I went and got an ultrasound. They asked if I ate or drank recently and I knew I was going into surgery. They basically had to stuff it back in and stitch it shut. Now it is still healing but I am back to training.
How do you feel about the entire PR you got from the incident?
"I think it's great. I was on the stretcher about to go into surgery and asked my wife for my UFC hoodie. My post about it seemed to mislead people to think we were training knees on the ground, but that wasn't the case. I also want to mention that I wasn't wearing my Diamond cup when it happened. I usually don't wear a cup, but Diamond is the best and now I sleep in it.
Devin Powell has reached arguably the highest level for athletes in the sport. What do you want to accomplish next?
"The UFC has over 1000 fights and if they were to give out an even amount of fights across all fighters it would be only two fights per year. I'm still waiting for that next fight. The one thing I want is that next fight and to get my hand raised.