UFC Argentina: Devin Powell “Just Building My Highlight Reel” While Pursuing Second Straight Win

Devin Powell, UFC Calgary
Devin Powell Credit: Jay Anderson/Cageside Press

After crumpling Alvaro Herrera with body kicks in Calgary, Devin Powell will continue to rack up the air miles, as he returns at UFC Argentina in search of his second straight win.

When the UFC makes its debut in the South American nation of Argentina this weekend, Devin Powell will be opening the show for his second straight fight. That might come as something of a surprise after his last performance. Powell (9-3) absolutely crushed Álvaro Herrera with devastating body kicks at UFC Calgary. The TKO that resulted marked his first win in the UFC. It also highlighted what the New Hampshire native is capable of.

This time out, he’s facing short-notice replacement Jesus Pinedo (15-4-1). Pinedo was given the nod to fill in for Claudio Puelles on about a month’s notice.

We caught up with Devin Powell ahead of UFC Argentina, just after an open workout and fundraiser the fighter held for the trip overseas at the Rye Airfield Skatepark. Powell’s been busy dealing with flood damage at Nostos MMA, the highly regarded gym he runs in Somersworth, NH, but he hasn’t let it dampen his spirits any.

UFC Calgary certainly turned things around for the lightweight. “Definitely,” he told Cageside Press about whether picking up the win in Calgary took some pressure off. Though he admits “this one [UFC Argentina] definitely has some pressure too, because I feel like it’s also a must-win fight.”

It no doubt is. Powell is hoping to even his record in Argentina, after saving his spot on the roster in Calgary. “I begged for that last one. I said that I belonged there, and that I could beat the guys in my division,” he explained. “To put a stamp on it in a pretty exciting fashion, I think that’s exactly what they were hoping I was capable of. They just hadn’t given me that opportunity. Once I finally got it, I capitalized, and I think it was definitely a perfect finish.”

About as close to perfect as you can get. Two left kicks to the liver that completely shut down his opponent.

“Everybody looks good on a highlight reel. If you’re good and you fight somebody that’s not very good, you’re going to look even better.”

This time around, heading to UFC Argentina, Powell will be taking Joe Lauzon, Jay Mansfield, and Tyson Chartier as corners. The UFC covers two plane tickets (fighter plus corner, pretty much), hence the fund raiser earlier in the month. That helped put a dent in the bill, alongside Powell’s sponsors. Now “the job is to get to Argentina, get the hand raised, and make sure we come home with twice as much money as it would be if we didn’t get the job done.”

With Jesus Pinedo stepping up as a replacement, Powell has had just a few weeks to prepare for his opponent. “I saw some highlights and stuff,” he told us. “Everybody looks good on a highlight reel. If you’re good and you fight somebody that’s not very good, you’re going to look even better. I think there’s definitely a handful of guys that he’s fought that aren’t nearly as skilled as me.” While the Peruvian fighter is on a five fight win streak, other than an early career loss to Humberto Bandenay, none of his opponents have been close to household names.

Powell, however, understands the lopsidedness between their quality of competition. “I think if you’re managed well and you’re smart, almost everybody starts out fighting some guys that aren’t at your level if you’re a pretty talented fighter,” he admitted. “It’s kind of the nature of the beast.” After all, if you want to get somewhere in MMA, somewhere big, you need to get your record to a certain point. “Some people fight all killers right off the bat. Then they have a lopsided record, even when they’re better than some of the guys that make it far.”

With that in mind, “I think he’s very talented,” Powell said of Pinedo. “I think everybody is that makes it to the UFC, but I don’t think he’s fighting anyone at all like me. He has a couple of decision fights, and I don’t think the guys he’s gone to decision with are good enough to beat me.”

Powell isn’t one to beat around the bush, and excepts to go out and scrap it out in Argentina. “We’re both finishers, and I think we’re going to get somebody getting their hand raised definitively. We’re not going to have any judges — they’re going to have an easy job.”

Besides which, with Pinedo being a South American fighting not too far from home, “that’s the absolute last thing I want to see. There’s a huge magnitude of weight between, if I win this fight, being a .500 fighter, if I lose, I’m 1-3. It’d be detrimental. If it came down to a decision, and I was quite certain I won and then I lost, that’d be tough.”

He’s already had one of those, in his second UFC fight, against Darrell Horcher. After a close first round, Powell feels he lost the second, then won the third definitively. He lost the fight by split decision. “If we had one extra judge giving me that first round, I’d be 2-1 in the UFC, going for 3-1. It’s so close sometimes. That’s the last thing you ever want, a split decision going the wrong way. Or a decision at all.”

“Your best bet’s always getting the finish.”

The key to that at UFC Argentina, Powell said, is to “just give it back. He pressures people, and they fold.” Or at least, “they move back, and they don’t fight back. I’m going to put my punches right down his throat. If he keeps moving forward, then we’re going to have a bloody fight. I think I’ve got to keep his forward progress at a halt, and do what I’m good at. That’s be aggressive, and get in a fistfight.”

Powell has never been stopped in his career, and added that “I’m going to be in there for fifteen minutes, unless he wants to break before.”

“I’m just building my highlight reel for when they put me back on TV.”

Not having Powell on the televised portion of Saturday’s card was something of a puzzle after his last performance. Body shot knockouts, especially off kicks, are always a welcome sight for MMA fans. Powell’s not exactly upset by the move, though a little surprised.

“As far as trying to grow my fanbase, be able to take care of my family, make more money, then the more eyes on me, the better, as long as you’re performing well,” he said. Being on TV, taking all that into consideration, would be great. “As far as me being on Fight Pass, I want to be as early as possible if that’s going to be the case. It’d be better to be on TV for sure, but if I’m not going to get that, I just want to get the job done.” And after, “go out and enjoy Argentina.”

“I definitely did think I’d maybe get bumped up,” he admitted. “I think I’m marketable, after that performance, I thought I was going to be showcased a little more.” So until then, “I’m just building my highlight reel for when they put me back on TV.”

Plus, Powell is “in martial arts for the rest of my life. I’m fortunate to have that as a career outside the UFC. This is definitely helping.” After all, the more notoriety he gets as a fighter, the better Nostos MMA fares.

And while he’s taking things one fight at a time, Powell admits that one goal is to fight close to home. That’s so his mother, who was at all his fights early in his career, can watch him fight. Due to a fear of flying, she’s had to sit out the last few. However, with a card in Brooklyn looming in January, Powell threw his name in the hat. “If I’m healthy, the weight’s good, we’ll go from there. Going two in a row would be huge for me. And that’s what we’re chasing after. After we get it done, I want to make sure the body’s healthy, and take care of a bunch of stuff that we neglect. And then if I can get everything in a row, I’d definitely like to get on there.”

UFC Argentina (UFC Fight Night 140) takes place Saturday, November 17 at the Mary Terán de Weiss Stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina.