Eddie Gordon has let his last fight go. Admitting that he wasn’t too happy in the aftermath of his first UFC loss to Josh Samman last December, the New Yorker was asked on March 31 when he let it fade from memory.
“About 10 minutes ago,” he deadpanned before laughing, proving that in this sport, if you don’t have a short memory, you won’t last long. Gordon wants to stick around for a while, and if you think he’s been in a dark room brooding since UFC 181, you don’t know him.
“I’m able to talk about it now,” he said. “When it first happened, I was angry and upset, and I was like, ‘you know what, that’s the fight game.’”
It was a sentiment echoed to him by one of his head coaches, Matt Serra, immediately after the bout.
“He (Serra) said ‘you were winning the fight, you were doing well, you got caught. That’s why we love this sport so much, because anything can happen at any minute,’” Gordon recalled. “It was a lesson learned. Credit to Josh. I never believe in saying somebody got lucky because he threw the kick and he executed. I didn’t execute the counter and the block, and the rest is history. But I’m just motivated to get back in there and erase that thought because it’s easy when everything is going great and you’re winning and knocking guys out, but real character is built when you see what you can do once you come back from a loss.”
The last time Gordon tasted defeat was in September of 2012, when he dropped a decision to Anton Talamantes in a Ring of Combat show in Atlantic City. After that, he dusted himself off, got back in the win column in the spring of the following year, and the next stop for “Truck” was The Ultimate Fighter 19, where he won the season title with a blistering 71-second knockout of Dhiego Lima.
But in this sport, where there are highs, there are also lows. Gordon accepts that and knows that’s what he signed up for. Yet after the loss to Samman, he had to deal with the reality of explaining it to his two sons, who are following in dad's gridiron footsteps and heading to Canton this summer.
“It was tough,” he said. “It really didn’t hurt me, but the kids, they were devastated. After that, when I was watching the (Rafael) dos Anjos fight with Anthony Pettis, and he said nobody’s gonna beat me in front of my kids, that hit home. And that’s my new mantra. I’m gonna go out there and make sure that never happens again.”
This Saturday, the 31-year-old returns to take on Chris Dempsey in the opening prelim bout on the Fight Night Newark card, and he makes it very clear that the guy nicknamed “Truck” won’t be pulling back when the bell rings.
“I’m not a guy that’s gun-shy,” he said. “I played football, I competed my whole life and I’m a competitor. I hate to deal with losses, but I just want to make sure I learn from it so it never happens again. So I’m coming out guns blazing and ready to go on April 18th.”
If he was gun-shy, he would have already been run out of one of the toughest rooms in the sport in Long Island, where Serra and Ray Longo have assembled a band of brothers who have been taking over the UFC. Whether it’s middleweight boss Chris Weidman, lightweight contender Al Iaquinta, or top prospect Aljamain Sterling, Gordon has plenty of folks able to whip him into fighting shape both mentally and physically.
“It’s absolutely awesome,” he said. “It’s great because you get to ride the wave and momentum of all your teammates, you’ve got everybody in the gym training together, and especially for me, I’m so fortunate to have the middleweight champion of the UFC in my corner, and I get to train with him, so when I step into the Octagon, I know for a fact that the guy I’m fighting is not the champ. So it’s huge for preparation. Words can’t even put it all into perspective.”
And though it’s often seen as a fighting cliché, Gordon says that it is true that when you come out of a training camp with his team, the fights seem a lot easier.
“Realistically, you want to be put in the worst positions possible and you want to train with the best guys,” he said. “For you to get better, you’ve got to train with guys that are as good as you or even better. If you’re just beating guys up, you’re not getting a realistic look, and if you’re not really getting nice, hard sparring sessions in, it’s gonna be tough to jump up a level once you go into the Octagon. Everybody in the UFC is top level, so if you don’t have other UFC fighters to compete against, it’s tough to gauge where you’re at and to find your weaknesses and fix them.”
Gordon believes he’s sewn up the holes revealed in the Samman fight, the main one being that when he got caught with a perfect head kick, “I got greedy.” Now he knows better to let the fight come to him. That doesn’t mean to stop being aggressive, but to have it under control until he needs to kick the “Truck” into gear. And in 2015, he’s hoping to kick off a long trip to the top after a life-altering 2014.
“It was wild, it was a whirlwind, it was the biggest year of my life,” Gordon said of 2014. “It was like a rollercoaster, but I’m a big believer in not dwelling on past success or past failures. I just want to be continually getting better, and I’ve got the right camp to do that. I’m at the right place at the right time and I’m gonna make the best of it. 2015 is definitely my year and it starts April 18.