Edwin Dewees - Back from 'Reality'
By Thomas Gerbasi
Poor Edwin Dewees. Like Puck, Omarosa, Richard Hatch, and William Hung before him, the Arizona middleweight will forever be remembered in reality television history, not for his soft-spoken demeanor or fighting ability, but for one particular facet of his time on Spike TV’s ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ series.
He was the bloody guy.
“That’s pretty much what I get,” laughs Dewees, referencing fan reaction to his crimson-covered win over Gideon Ray on season four’s second episode. “I’d say 90% of the people that come up to me, try to touch my hair and say ‘do you have a scar?’ ‘Let me see your scar?’ or ‘How did you not die?’ Something along those lines.”
But while the elbow-induced cut on the forehead is what most will remember from Dewees’ decision victory, what should be noted is the fact that the Phoenix native didn’t back down from adversity in the fight and instead moved forward and wound up winning a tiebreaking third round to move on to the series semifinals. It was a seminal moment in the career of the 24-year-old.
“I was just thinking it was my time,” said Dewees when asked his thought process when things started going south in the Ray bout. “I put in a lot of hard work in training for the show, and I was training out here in our gym in Arizona, The Nest, for months and months, 12 hours a day, just training and training. I just felt it was my time. I didn’t care if my head was cut off, my body was gonna keep fighting. There was no way I was gonna lose that fight. I wasn’t gonna allow it.”
Dewees would eventually get cut again en route to losing a three round unanimous decision to Patrick Cote in ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ semifinals, but even though he won’t be fighting for a shot at the middleweight title on November 11th, when he faces Jorge Rivera on that night in Las Vegas, he’ll be leaving it all in the Octagon in search of victory.
“I’m much more of an aggressive fighter, I’ve learned how to train properly, so I won’t be holding anything back, and throwing hands isn’t something that I’m afraid to do anymore, so come November 11th, the fans should watch for a new ‘Bam Bam’ – as they call me now – and just watch the fireworks,” said Dewees, who, despite his age, is still a 44 fight veteran who has been competing as a professional since 2000. And though he’s had his ups and downs in compiling a 34-10 record, it’s his youth that keeps him motivated.
“What keeps me going is that I’m still young,” he said. “I’m younger than most of the people, so if I have a loss, I know that I still have years to correct any faults in my game that I have right now, and I think that I’m only at 50-60 % of my potential, so that always just motivates me if I ever lose, because I know I still have a long time to keep fighting ahead of me.”
Another motivational tool for Dewees is that he is still searching for his first UFC victory (the Ray fight, since it was only scheduled for two rounds, does not count on his official record), something he hopes will come on November 11th. For now, he just has to sit back and reflect on his previous Octagon appearances, where he was stopped in the first round by former UFC middleweight champ Rich Franklin in 2003 and then shockingly submitted in the first round by Chris Leben in 2005.
“With Rich Franklin, I think I was a little ahead of myself in that fight,” he admits. “Now looking back on it, how I trained for that fight was just ridiculous. I wasn’t at the gym I’m at now and I just really took a step back. I took some time off after that fight and sorted some things out and really learned how to train. Then when I came back and fought Leben, I think I had the tools to beat him, it was just kind of a stupid, idiotic mistake that I will never forget. I lose sleep over that fight still, but I definitely learned not to underestimate anybody from Leben, and you do take every loss for what it’s worth and try to learn from it. I think any fighter that wants to better themselves will take what they can from their losses and try to keep on going.”
In this game, it also doesn’t hurt to have close-knit training partners around you or a confidant who you can talk to when it comes to the ups and downs of being a professional fighter. Dewees is lucky to have both in welterweight contender Joe Riggs. Both fighters are the same age, both came up on the local Arizona fight scene, and both have wound up in the big show, albeit in different ways.
“It helps out a lot,” admits Dewees. “It’s nice to have somebody to talk to. You can tell your problems to other people who don’t do it (fight), and they try to understand, but they really don’t understand. And having somebody right there with you step by step is awesome. You really can’t lean on anybody else like that because nobody else is going through what you are, and having such a close friend going through the same exact thing is just more support for each other.”
And given the close, almost brotherly, bond between the two, there has been no bitter feelings while Riggs racked up a UFC title shot and seven Octagon appearances.
“It wasn’t weird at all,” said Dewees. “He deserved it when his time came and when something good happens for either one of us, it’s a victory for both of us because we’re so close.”
It’s a mature attitude to have, and one you rarely see in pro sports today, but during his almost two-year hiatus from the sport in 2003-2005, Dewees not only made it a point to build muscle and improve the technical aspects of his game, but he also found time to take the steps from being a kid to becoming a man.
“I got a job during that time and I just really grew up,” he admits. “I got married and learned what responsibility was, and that carried over, now that I’m back fighting, into my training. I’ve taken on a trainer role and a managerial role at my gym, so that time off helped me grown up a little bit, and I think it really matured me as a fighter as well.”
On November 11th, fight fans will get to see the fruits of those labors when Dewees battles Rivera, while reality television junkies will find out that ‘Bam Bam’ is more than just the ‘bloody guy’ – he’s a fighter.
“I didn’t go on the show to be famous or to be on TV,” said Dewees. “I honestly would have done the show if there were no cameras and it was for free. (Laughs) It’s weird when people recognize me, but I like it, and it doesn’t really bother me. I’m not really trying to be famous and I don’t want everyone to know who I am, so I’m not really getting glory from it. I’m just happy to be in the UFC.”