Adversity is a well-known adage in life. It’s something that can clog the mind, blocking neural pathways. It makes you want to quit and has no problem bringing you to the lowly depths of shame and prisoner like mental anguish. At one point, we all know this feeling. For some, adversity defeats them, but others don’t allow themselves such a luxury. This is the story of ‘Sweet Bread’, Dinis Paiva, a man who went from a 3-5 professional record to challenging for a belt while headlining the landmark 50th event for CES MMA.
Dinis Paiva: From Bitter to Sweet
You could ask anyone of the area if they know him, they love him. If they’ve heard of him, they praise him. Paiva is a hero of sorts in the New England fight community.
Paiva is an important man in and out of the gym. During business hours, many recognize the one they call ‘Sweet Bread’ as an average working man. The Rhode Island resident is the Director of Warehousing for a commercial janitorial and maintenance service, Martins Maintenance. His responsibilities there saw him rack up 65 hours per week, on average.
After-hours, inside the salty and bold smelling air of the gym, he serves a different purpose. One not for himself, and quite honestly one that may go unnoticed by the New England fighter. Yet, he serves as motivation and an example for young and hungry fighters to model themselves after.
It wasn’t until recently that the dedicated husband made the decision, with his wife, to operate as a part-time worker. Thusly he forgoes any sense of financial security for his pursuit of happiness. It is a noble deed, one that wouldn’t surprise the closest of people around him.
“I put in over 300 hours in four and half weeks. Meanwhile, (I’m) still training and preparing for a professional fight… So a few weeks ago, I sat with my boss and I just told him my head wasn’t into it. It was really getting to this point where I’m in this divide of do I follow my dream or do I sit with a security blanket of work”, Paiva told MMASucka.
“It wasn’t about money, because the money I was making was great. I don’t have a college degree… (I went) from a third shift cooler janitor pushing a broom for $9 an hour to being the director of warehousing and overseeing the entire warehouse base operation on a national level”.
Juggling a Dream
“It got to a point where I sat with my wife and we discussed do I chase a paycheck and I chase security or do I chase my dream and I follow my pursuit of happiness, and without her, I wouldn’t be where I am at”.
There’s a lot to be learned from a character such as Dinis Paiva. He speaks words directly leaking from his soul’s character. When he talks about struggle, the essence behind his words flow like daggers through the air, precisely landing, piercing, and pricking at your brain with new information. Yet the words fall just short of doing justice towards the feeling. There isn’t much that can coerce such feelings but he has been through it all.
Paiva began his martial arts journey training in the art of June Keet Do (otherwise known as JKD) in a garage. The techniques he learned were advanced but admittedly, this training in the early half of his professional fighting career lacked essential basic components. It’s one reason he began his career 1-3.
Ultimately, he struggled through the first portion of his professional record. At his lowest point, Paiva’s record was 3-5, and hope was lost. Doubt heavily weighed on his mind at the time. Disillusionment with the sport hadn’t happened but within himself, it was more than prevalent.
“I kinda got used to being a loser, man. I love the sport and I always have. That’s what’s kept me in as long as I’ve been. If you don’t love it as much as I do, you’re never going to get to the big picture because this sport will break you down, tear you apart, show you your true colors, put you in your place and humble you. That’s really what happened to me”.
Moving past Losing
“I got used to losing, I kind of accepted it. I accepted being a local guy and just saying I was a fighter versus really wanting to be a fighter. There’s a lot of people out there that just stay in the amateurs for a long time. They boast about what they do on an amateur level. Well get past the amateur level, get to the pro level and go through what I’ve gone through. Be a loser, be laughed at, be mocked but continue to show up. Continue to work, continue to grind and find success and I think that’s why I’ve developed the respect that I have and the report that I’ve built”.
“People telling you that quitting is not an option, quitting is the easiest option above and beyond everything else. It’s the most readily available option. Quitting its always there in your face, it’s always the thing that speaks to you in the back of your mind. Its fear, its quit, its give up that’s always the first thing that pops up. Fighting through that beats out the fear. I’m not afraid to lose, I just learn how to deal with the fear and throw a middle finger up at it. Without fear, there is no greatness, without sacrifice none of this is worth it… there’s no feeling of (a) substitute. There is no drug in the world, there is no beer, there is no alcohol it’s addictive on its own”.
CES MMA Bantamweight Title
For Paiva, this opportunity at the vacant title is an icing on the cake. ‘Sweet Bread’ fought each and every one of his professional fights under the CES banner. He is the poster boy for CES MMA, but all of this does not distract the local fighter from the problems his opponent presents.
His opponent, California’s Andre Ewell, has the utmost respect from Paiva, and not only respect. Even further, the CES veteran appreciates Ewell as a man and competitor. Just the prospect of this matchup is exciting for him.
From all accounts, Paiva promised this fight would be memorable. Yet, the community decided this some time ago. Both men represent the best each of their respective regions has to offer. Ewell is a dangerous striker, with impeccable movement as well as a complete and well-rounded game.
The hometown fighter is much of the same. Paiva himself believes his game is slightly more versatile and that is what he believes will earn him victory. He was an All-American wrestler and state champion in high school. His work with Tri-Force and Sityodtong boasts his overall adaptiveness and fight IQ. By all means, there couldn’t be much better of a regional level matchup.
“He comes to fight, he presses the action, he’s exciting and that thrills the crap out of me. I want a great fight. People talk about Forrest Griffin, Stephan Bonnar fights that’s what this fights going to be. It’s going to be a good old-fashioned slobberknocker. I see him or I finishing one or another, I don’t really imagine this card going to the scorecards”.
“He’s got a boxing background, he works his Jiu-Jitsu, he’s got two wins by submission so he’s no slouch on the ground but there (are) three things he got to deal with, with me in there, I hit like a truck, I fold people when I hit them. I’ve knocked people out cold with left and right hands, one shot… he’s got to deal with my power, with the pressure I’m going to put on him. Whether it’s striking, coming forward, or diving in on his legs and constantly grinding him. He’s going to be in for a suffocation if you will. This is going to be the crocodile vs. the gazelle and I’m going to drown him with whatever tactic comes naturally”.
A Heart of Balls
“I’ve fought at 35, 45, and 55. I’ve been hit by some big guys, and I’ve never been knocked out, ever. I hold that in my back pocket so when there’s nothing else when the cardio is not there, the strength isn’t there, the will isn’t there, I got a heart of balls, like nobody else dude”.
“I’ve fought good grapplers, I’ve fought guys that are in between, I’ve fought bigger guys than Andre. That’s where I feel we matchup. I feel like its going to be a finish, somewhere mid to late 3rd or 4th round. I feel like the pressure will be overwhelming like, ‘Get this guy off of me. Why does he keep coming forward? I’ve hit him with everything I’ve got and he smiles and he’s talking crap to me as I’m doing it. That’s what he’s going to have to deal with when it comes fight night. He’s going to deal with a problem, he’s going to deal with the cancer of ‘Sweet Bread’”.
“I feel like Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where he finally gets the opportunity to get the Christmas holiday at his house and it was dysfunctional through the whole event but at the end, he was the hero. And that’s the way I can iterate it, this is my time. No matter how dysfunctional things have been throughout camp and throughout my life, when everything is said and done, it will all be worth it”.