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At 33 years old, Eddie Gordon knows how the world works, especially when it comes to prizefighting. When he wins, everyone loves him. When he loses, it’s open season. So when it comes to his chosen profession, the Ultimate Fighter 19 winner and TUF 25 competitor will always respect those he competes against as well as anyone who straps the gloves on.
“When we’re kids in junior high school or high school, and somebody’s talking trash to you and saying, ‘We’re gonna fight after school,’ you think about that fight every single period of the day,” he said. “Could you imagine knowing six to eight or 12 weeks out that you have a scheduled date, a time, a weight that you’re gonna go fight somebody? It’s wild. So I respect every single fighter that steps into the cage, whether they’re amateurs or fighting at the highest level. The fact that they’re willing to put everything in front of other people to judge, that speaks volumes.”
Having said that, don’t expect him to play the ‘What If’ game about his post-TUF 19 career in the Octagon, where his season-winning knockout of Dhiego Lima was followed by three consecutive losses to Josh Samman, Chris Dempsey and Antonio Carlos Junior. Gordon was cut after the Carlos fight, but he took lessons from those defeats and moved forward.
“I think most people don’t even realize that I learned in the UFC,” he said. “A good number of my fights were in the UFC at the highest level of mixed martial arts, and I’ve only been doing this sport seven years, so I had to learn a lot. And when you’re fighting the best guys in the world, one little mistake, whether it’s during the fight or leading up to the fight, it goes a long way. I had my ups and downs, but I look at it as a blessing. I learned a ton.”
He also made a friend along the way in Samman, who tragically passed away last October at the age of 28. Most wouldn’t think that the people on the giving and receiving end of a devastating knockout would end up becoming buddies, but that’s one of the unique parts of this sport.
“People don’t understand that even though we’re going in that ring and fighting, we’re technically competing, and I think we’re competing more against ourselves; that other person happens to be in that cage,” Gordon explains. “And after we fought, I stayed in contact with him (Samman), and he was genuinely a great guy. The things he battled through in life brought us together.
“People don’t realize that they might see us fight for 15 or 25 minutes, but we’re regular people too, so we have to deal with the ups and downs,” he continues. “Family losses, emotional things with family and kids, and we have all that on our plate and we have to go out there and entertain an audience. They don’t know what you go through just to get into that cage, and after sharing that time in there with him, it was devastating hearing of his passing. That fight helped me grow, not just as an athlete, but as a person and it built a relationship with a person I was grateful to know.”
It’s one of many lessons Gordon passes to his four sons, along with those about being ready when your name is called. A little over a year after his loss to Carlos, he returned to active duty with a win over Chris Lozano last August. Then his name was called.
“Some guys take it personal when they get released,” he said. “I completely understand that it’s business. So I always kept a good relationship with the UFC, and I kind of knew the path that (UFC President) Dana (White) laid out for me – get a couple wins, you’re right back in the mix. I just had no idea that it would be a six-week stint with The Ultimate Fighter again.”
“Truck” wasn’t turning it down, though, and now he’s looking forward to another run at glory.
“One of my greatest assets is my mindset, and I truly believe everything happens for a reason,” he said. “I lived the highs, I lived the lows. From winning TUF and knocking out Lima to getting knocked out by Josh. So I lived both ends of the spectrum, and it’s different for me because I’m a veteran now. The limelight is cool, but this gives me a platform to say if you believe in yourself and work hard, things aren’t always going to go your way, but if you keep digging, it’s going to turn out a lot better than if you had just put your head down and buried yourself in the dirt. If you believe in yourself when others don’t, anything is possible.”