The UFC returns to Brazil a major hub of mixed martial arts, by the end of the third week in September. With them come a handful of unfamiliar faces of fighters looking to build glory from humble beginnings. Six athletes make their promotional debut Saturday, yet only one arrives internationally. That man is Andre Ewell and he makes his promotional debut in Sao Paolo, Brazil Saturday at UFC Fight Night: Santos vs. Anders.
Andre Ewell and the Double-Edged Sword
Coaches, equipment, a passport, and an electric personality that forces even the gloomiest of shadows to be cast from the circular vicinity of which his voice reaches. Ewell is a vibrant soul, his positivity, humor, and warmness are apparent from the moment one meets him. Although what super cedes this is a sharp confidence.
Andre and the World Tour
His debut marks another stop of his world tour. Earlier in the summer, Ewell traveled to Rhode Island from California in order to challenge for the CES bantamweight title. He left New England victorious and his performance ultimately led to the opportunity bestowed before him. Now Brazil is another territory ripe for the picking. As he did before, Ewell desires to steal the hearts of the Brazilian faithful.
“In reality, every fight that I had a debut with, was me taking over so the greatest opening for me is Renan Barao. Everyone keeps speaking on it and stating it, that’s the perfect opponent. He used to be the king, the lion of the jungle, however, you end up placing it, he was the man and now he gets to meet the Afro-man.
I get to walk up in there and be the king of the jungle, which I am going to show everybody after I show what I do best in the cage with Renan Barao,” Ewell told MMASucka. “It’s all going to end up floating the way it needs to so it’s all exciting and it’s a home welcoming party to me, because like I stated, wherever that cage is, is my home. Even if it’s in Brazil, New England, in space or Mars, it doesn’t matter that cage is me, everybody knows it and that’s how it is.”
In Rhode Island, he fought Dinis Paiva, a CES and local fan-favorite. In Brazil, Ewell takes on former UFC bantamweight champion, Renan Barao. At CES 50, he was the main event, on Saturday, Ewell fights on the main card. The opportunity is there once again to show the world who Andre Ewell is and his excitement could not be more evident.
“By all means being on the main card for my debut, it’s freaking awesome,” Ewell told MMASucka. “It just proves and shows where I honestly belong and it’s going to constantly be like that. It’s only going to get better. My next card after this should be on a PPV, which I’m aiming for. It builds up to the moment when people will be knowing me and seeing me. They’re going to be, ‘who is he?’ and then after that, it’s going to turn into, ‘dang, we definitely know who that person is and I’m happy that you brought him out here. I’m glad that he respects the game and all that other stuff, I love him’. Like I said, the only thing I need is 5 minutes. 5 minutes and you’ll end up loving me.”
Yet, the feeling is a bit different coming into this promotional debut. It is a double-edged sword of sorts. Ewell feels as if his status as underdog coming into the matchup is unwarranted. Odds on the bout opened with Andre Ewell as +250. For people who do not understand betting, +250 is not a massive underdog. Even so, he feels disrespected.
“When it comes down to it, I don’t want to say that they placed me as in it’s a good challenge for me, no. They placed it as in they are favoring him, like a feeding station type thing ‘here you go, go get this guy. He’s a sheep.’ There was a bunch of people who didn’t want to go out there, so they offered it to me not knowing that I’m going to bite on it,” Ewell exclaimed.
Just me getting to fight overseas, that’s awesome. Me getting to fight a super legend on the situation, that’s even better. Being frank about the thing, I didn’t know he was a super legend until people were telling me he was a super-legend. That’s what ended up happening. So in my eyes, as soon as they said Brazil, I said yes. It doesn’t matter who it is I’m going to end up destroying them so let’s go.”
Talking the Talk
On the other side, he’s become a sought-after commodity. While the oddsmakers and others haven’t afforded him the status of favorite, the amount of attention surrounding him would indicate so. Even in that aspect, his feelings are lay on both ends. On one end, Ewell is an outgoing man but there is only so much of that to go around.
“There are those moments where I’m like ‘Ah yeah, I’m excited. I get to talk to everybody’. People get to know my story and that just basically gets me where I need to go. Like, you hearing my story ends up opening up a door for other people that can vibe with it or actually understand it… even if you are in a bad situation in life that no matter how you end up doing it, as long as you work your ass for it, it will end up changing. You can end up making your day a positive day. Even if it is negative and I had a very negative life growing up.
Everything I did kept me going forward, looking forward and try to change situations. You hold the power in the outcome of what happens in your day… Everybody has the chance to do what they can do with their day. So now the question is what are you doing? For me, it’s continuing to smile, train my butt off for people to end up understanding and knowing who I am. Then there’s the other side where I just want to throw my phone. I’ve got so many messages in my phone. I feel bad too because it’s not y’all it’s just that I got a busy schedule. I’m talking to people trying to maintain my life at the same time trying to train and then by the time I get home, it’s like I’m tired and crashed.”
Goals in High Places
Past UFC Sao Paulo and Renan Barao lie lofty goals for Ewell. He looks to a make statement to the world. One that won’t be quickly forgotten and it all begins in Sao Paulo, Brazil. His statement begins with dispatching the former bantamweight champion and ends with multiple titles in his grasp.
“How I look at it is, you are just another normal person that’s on the other side of the cage that’s basically trying to stop me from doing what I must do. No offense to everybody, this is just how I am. I believe I am the best 35er. It’s just me coming out here to prove that and let the world know. Eventually, I’m going to move up to 45 and then I might continue to move up to 55. In reality, I’m just here to prove that I’m the best fighter. I want the world to know that there’s someone exciting. That you are able to change things with hard work.
So it wasn’t one of those, ‘oh, it’s Renan’ or ‘I better look out for this’. It’s like nah let my team continue to do their thing. I continue to train hard. [I] do what I have to do best and that is performing, putting on a show for the world so that the world love me. It’s like original Fast and the Furious, ‘I live my life a quarter mile at a time’. Even if it’s for a second, an inch or a mile, that’s what I’m here to do. Put on a show.”