On November 17, UFC lightweight Devin Powell will make his fourth walk to the Octagon, this time on foreign soil in Argentina.
The New England native spoke to The Body Lock about his upcoming fight, training with Joe Lauzon, his love of the guitar, and his budding Hollywood career.
The Opponent May Have Changed, But the Mission Hasn’t
Powell was originally slated to face Claudio Puelles at UFC Fight Night 140, but an injury forced the Peruvian to withdraw. Later, a countryman of Puelles’, Jesus “El Mudo” Pinedo, quickly took his spot.
“It’s always tough getting that call,” Powell said of Puelles’ withdrawal. “You’re so set on one person, and then all of a sudden, it’s something completely different.”
Nonetheless, Powell believes that’s all part of the game.
“We’re supposed to be able to beat anybody out there. You just gotta go and get the job done no matter what.”
Luckily, Powell says, he and his team won’t change much for Pinedo. He also believes experience will be a big factor in this fight. “He’s not too far off from our previous opponent. It’s going to be his first fight in the UFC, so he hasn’t seen that big stage yet. I think there’s a big difference between the competition between myself and his last several fights.”
But despite the difference in experience, Powell isn’t taking Pinedo lightly. “He’s young and hungry, so I think it’s going to be a good scrap,” Powell said. ” It’s gonna be a fun fight.”
Finally, Things Are Going Powell’s Way
Devin Powell had a rough start to his UFC career. The thirty-year-old signed to the UFC on the heels of an exciting win on “Dana White’s Looking For a Fight”, but the experience wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows.
For starters, Powell wasn’t even supposed to be on the card.
“I got put on the card on three weeks notice because somebody pulled out because of injury,” he recounts. “I was pretty banged up myself: I had a bad back; I couldn’t bend over and touch my toes.”
Still, there was no way Powell wasn’t fighting. “There’s no opportunity like that. When they come up, you’re going to take them. Basically, I got the call, and I accepted immediately.”
The fight itself was a war, with Powell ultimately emerging the victor. “I broke my nose, tore my knee, but got the job done and got to call Dana and Din Thomas and Matt Serra. They pretty much just told me that they liked me and to pick up my phone because they’d be calling.”
They called, and Powell made his UFC debut against top prospect Drakkar Klose in 2017. He would go on to lose that fight via unanimous decision but would make a quick, five-month turnaround to face Darrel Horcher in June.
Against Horcher, Powell came up short in a contentious split-decision, one that many – including Powell himself – thought could’ve gone either way.
“I felt like the first round might have been mine; I more than doubled or just about doubled his strike count altogether. The second half of the first round, I went for a takedown, and I got reversed. I ended up kinda stalled out on the bottom, and I guess that’s what won him that round. The third round I won; second round he won. It was close to being two and one [in my favor].”
But Powell took his next fight out of the hands of the judges, definitively earning his first UFC victory in his fight with Alvaro Herrera via first-round knockout this past July.
Ironically, it was a fight he wasn’t sure he’d get.
“My back was against the wall. I didn’t know if I was going to get a fight. I was waiting thirteen months for the opportunity to finally come, so I made the best of it, I was aggressive, and I got the finish.”
Powell will enter the fight with Pinedo with something he has yet to have in his young UFC career: momentum. He credits a sizable portion of that momentum to training with UFC and New England MMA legend, Joe Lauzon.
Continuing to Grow with Joe (Lauzon)
“He’s made a huge impact on my career,” said Powell of Lauzon. But perhaps no impact Lauzon has made was more evident than an accidental knee he landed on Powell this past February.
The knee led to a “ruptured testicle,” an injury too gruesome for many to stomach. Yet, Powell looks on the bright side. “For one, he ruptured my testicle and that got me a lot of added press and publicity. I like to be optimistic, and I definitely, truly think it helped with my career in getting me my next fight and everything. So,” Powell laughs, “I’m thankful in that regard.”
Aside from attention-garnering injuries, Powell credits Lauzon with much more, including his continued growth as a fighter. “Training with him and sparring with all the best guys in New England has been phenomenal. The talent there… it’s unreal, and all these guys from different gyms are all invited to come down to Joe’s to train.”
Specifically, Powell says Lauzon acts as an additional coach to him. At his own gym, Powell says it can be hard to focus on his own development when balancing all the duties of a gym owner and instructor.
“He gives me a lot of time. After we finish training, he’ll tell me what he liked from what I was doing; what I was doing wrong. It’s something that, running my own academy and not always getting to work with coaches, [is invaluable].”
Talents Outside the Cage
Although fighting is a massive part of Devin Powell’s life, he has a series of passions outside the Octagon, too.
One such passion is music, particularly the guitar.
“I started [playing guitar] in ninth grade, and I played in a bunch of bands throughout high school. That was definitely my passion,” says Powell.
“I absolutely loved music. I played shows and bands and we did gigs wherever we could. It was just what we loved doing.”
After high school, says Powell, it was “really hard to keep playing” because friends went off to college or began work careers. Powell, too, took a job to earn a living.
“I started working at a passport center, and I pretty much hated my life. But, I showed up every day because it was the job, and I started becoming complacent there.”
Powell knew he needed a change.
“I wanted to do something I was passionate about, just like I was with music. That’s where I found martial arts. I’d come home from the passport center every day and WEC Wreckage would be on. I’d watch Carlos Condit, Urijah Faber, Matt Brown, and Mike Brown, and I just decided I want to do something like that. And that’s what I did.”
To Powell, the progression from guitar playing to professional fighting was more natural than people might think. “It’s all about performing. There’s nothing like performing in front of an audience. The highs you get; the lows you get. It’s a lot different: the lows of a bad show versus a bad fight, but it’s still similar because you have that adrenaline because you just want to perform so well. it’s exciting. They’re definitely very similar and that’s what drew me to it. I wanted to have that excitement again.”
Lately, Powell has taken his talents to another genre of performance, this time on the big screen in Hollywood. “I just acted in a film. Actually, Joe’s in it as well. Donald Cerrone’s in it; Joe Schilling, but it’s a Marky Mark [movie star, Mark Wahlberg] movie. Marky Mark is one of the main characters.”
This isn’t the first time Powell graced the silver screen. “That’s always been something I love. I did a small part in Here Comes the Boom. I did a small short film where I was the main character for a comic book movie called Unit Five: Drift. I’m going to keep doing that as like a small little bonus thing.”
Powell’s Projected Career Trajectory
Powell, 30, loves to fight, but he recognizes the wear and tear such an arduous sport can put on the body. “What I always say is ”Til the wheels fall off’. I love fighting. I don’t love what it does to the body, but that’s something you come to terms with. I’m going to just do it until it doesn’t make sense to do anymore.”
Ultimately, Powell says he’ll know when it doesn’t make sense. “I know that I’m sacrificing some stuff, but when it comes to the point where the juice isn’t worth the squeeze, then that’s where I’ll retire. For sure. Right now, the juice is sweet. It’s hard, but it’s worth every minute of it; the sacrifices and everything else.”
Devil Powell will face UFC newcomer, Jesus “El Mudo” Pinedo at UFC Fight Night 140 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on November 17. Make sure you tune in to watch this guitar playing, Hollywood acting, cage fighting renaissance man compete.
Michael Fiedel is The Body Lock's deputy editor, a staff writer for FloCombat, and a Russell-Rice scholarship recipient at Vanderbilt University.