Andre Ewell goes to battle once again this weekend at UFC 247. Ewell (15-6) will be kicking off the card which features two title fights and the likes of Jon Jones, Valentina Shevchenko, and fan-favorite, Derrick Lewis.
Fighting is nothing new for Ewell whose family regularly moved when he was a child. Every school had a bully and that bully always wanted a piece of the new kid. Tired of being picked on, Ewell eventually began taking martial arts to learn to defend himself.
“I ended up starting with wrestling and moved on into Taekwondo/boxing and boxing kind of took over everything. I was a big fan of Roy Jones back then, well, I still am. That was his era, he was taking over,” Ewell told The Body Lock.
Ewell got more into athletics but ended up focusing on boxing full time. After the birth of his son, “Daii” took some time away from pugilism. In an unfortunate turn of events, Ewell lost custody of his son and felt the judge was looking down on him for his lack of accomplishments in life. This lit a fire under the Californian.
“I ended up having to figure out what I was good at, and fighting was something I was good at because my whole life had been about me fighting. So I was pushed back into that situation. When I came back from retirement, it was MMA. I knew that was going to be the fastest way for me to get to the top and here I am, still trying to make my way to the top.”
Gunning for the top
Ewell gets another chance towards that dream of making it to the top when he meets Jonathan Martinez this Saturday. He sees Martinez as an exciting fighter who matches up well with him stylistically.
“If he’s looking for that brawl then I’m definitely the guy that will honestly bring him the type of fight that he wants. I definitely see straight excitement in this one. On paper, anything is anything. It’s all about how you perform and I’m doing everything to assure I perform better than I did in my last fight and the one before that. My aim is to be the best on camera, the best me.”
Over the last couple of years, the UFC’s bantamweight division has become must-see TV. The top ten is full of men who could on any given night be crowned champion. For Ewell, the killers that await don’t matter. They’re just bodies in the way of him realizing his dream.
“They (those ranked ahead of him) are just people I know I’m going to have to fight. I have to take their spot. To be the best, you have to beat the best. Right now, it’s the best that’s in front of me. It’s just numbers in front of me. As soon as I get the chance, I’m taking that spot,” Ewell stated.
Not only are there plenty of new challenges on the horizon, but Ewell would also like the chance to run back his loss to Marlon Vera. He feels he beats “Chito” ‘nine out of nine’ times in rematches but makes no excuses for the loss and admits Vera had the better night during their first meeting.
“We have to run that one back. It’s something we have to end up doing and he knows why.”
No matter the cost
A newly christened purple belt in jiu-jitsu, Ewell says we’ll be seeing more of his groundwork as his game advances. But he also wants to excite and wow the crowds; even if it comes at his own detriment.
“I feel I owe the world submissions and KOs but first is KOs. That’s what I owe them. I have to get back to how it started; me throwing hands and people getting dropped. But I’m not going to exclude certain areas from my game. So you’re definitely going to see my ground game but nine times out of ten, I’m just going to be using my ground game to set up these hands. My end game is just to be ready for all of it.”
“But I always try and keep it exciting. When I fought “Chito,” his fans were all hating and when I fought Renan Barao, his fans were all hating and there were ‘kill him’ chants in Brazil. But I kept it so exciting, when I was walking out, people were asking to take pictures with me, saying ‘great fight,’ they ended up loving me and asking me to come back.”
With another child on the way, Ewell is more motivated than ever. He says he spends all of his time training or getting tattooed and once his son is born, Ewell will be bringing him to the gym with him so he doesn’t miss any rounds.
It’s these sacrifices that will pay off in the future. It’s the hours in the gym, the lack of social life and the blood spilled that is all for a greater cause.
“I have to leave a legacy behind for the young ones. I’m going to have two sons and they’re definitely going to have a father they can look up to.”
Brandon is a long-time fan of combat sports who has covered them for various outlets since 2017.