After losing in his first two trips inside the Octagon, Devin Powell literally begged Ultimate Fighting Championship officials for one more chance.
The UFC brass finally relented, giving the South Berwick native and Wells resident a short-notice bout against Alvaro Herrera as part of the UFC on Fox 30 card on Saturday in Calgary, Alberta.
Powell, who got his initial shot with mixed martial arts’ top promotion after being discovered at UFC president Dana White’s “Dana White: Lookin’ for a Fight” show in Bangor in 2016, capitalized on opportunity once again.
The rangy lightweight absorbed some heavy body shots in the opening moments of the bout, and then used two devastating left kicks to the liver that sent Herrera to the mat en route to a victory by technical knockout at 1:52 of the first round at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
The fight was streamed live on UFC Fight Pass.
“I landed one big kick after I hit with a knee that I knew hurt him, you can just tell,” Powell said during a post-fight press availability. “Then I went to the liver and hurt him again, and I waited to see if [his] hand came down to protect the body and he didn’t do it so I went back to the liver.”
Powell tried to take Herrera to the mat earlier in the round, only to have his opponent keep the bout standing with some solid strikes of his own.
But finally it was Powell, the owner and head instructor at Nostos MMA in Somersworth, New Hampshire, who began landing the punishing body blows that ultimately sent Herrera reeling.
“It’s one of my favorite kicks,” Powell said of the liver shot. “It feels good and you know when it goes across the body right, it’s ‘Good Night, Irene.’”
Once Powell got his opponent to the mat the end did come quickly, as a brief dose of ground and pound prompted referee Marc Goddard to stop the fight.
Powell is now 9-3 overall, 1-2 in the UFC. Herrera drops to 9-6 overall, 1-3 UFC.
“We wanted to take him down because we knew how nasty he is,” Powell said. “He punched me in the stomach once and my guts almost went out of my body. But I got it done on my feet.”
This likely was a UFC elimination bout of sorts, with both contestants coming off two straight losses within the promotion.
Powell won eight of his first nine bouts while fighting in the Northeast, including three fights with the Maine-based New England Fights.
His only early loss came in his third professional bout on Dec. 6, 2013, by unanimous decision to Brewer’s Bruce Boyington — who will battle Sean Soriano for the CES lightweight championship in a televised bout (AXS-TV) Friday night in Lincoln, Rhode Island.
But that eighth victory, a first-round stoppage of Jon Lemke at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on Aug. 5, 2016, when White witnessed Powell’s comeback from a broken nose suffered in the opening minutes, led to Powell’s ascension to the UFC.
Powell lost his UFC debut by unanimous decision to Drakkar Klose in January 2017 at Phoenix, Arizona, and then fell by split decision to Darrell Horcher five months later in Oklahoma City.
Horcher and Klose currently have a combined record of 22-4-1.
Powell’s chances to fight again in the UFC were further complicated when he underwent surgery in February after suffering a ruptured testicle during a sparring session, but his recovery and subsequent lobbying of UFC officials on social media for a another bout paid off.
“I’m flying high,” Powel saidl. “It was a super-long layoff, 13 months. I had surgery, I didn’t know if I’d be in the UFC still because the division’s so big. I just kept training every day, that’s all I could do. I kept tagging Dana White, [UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby] and the UFC asking, begging, saying, ‘Give me another shot. I’ll sit on the shelf, I’ll taken any short-notice fight,’ and finally they gave me one.
“Thirty days’ notice and I got the job done. I couldn’t be more happy.”
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