The 19th season of The Ultimate Fighter was derided by UFC President Dana White, but fans spared the finalists much ill-feeling when explosive first-round finishes were delivered in the finale.
The winner of the 185lb portion of the show was Serra-Longo prospect Eddie ‘Truck’ Gordon, who pummeled Diego Lima inside five minutes to become The Ultimate Fighter.
A professional for only three years, Gordon (7-1 MMA/1-0 UFC) told Bloody Elbow that he agreed with Dana White’s assessment of the show.
“I really don’t focus on what people think. I’m my biggest critic and I have tough skin. But I agreed with Dana. I got home with my trainers and the real ‘Truck’ showed in the finale.”
Born in Jamaica and moving to the United States when he was four years old, Gordon’s thick skin was formed when he found problems in trying to integrate himself into his new home.
“Kids are brutal. I was different so kids made fun of me, but I was the youngest so no one was tougher on me than my older brother (laughs). My Mom put me in speech class to help with my accent. It gave me tons of confidence.”
Gordon doesn’t forget where he comes from though.
“I love my heritage and it made me who I am today.”
If that is the case it made him into quite the man. A high school and college All American football player who played at the Division 1 level for Fordham University, Gordon captained his team for two years and was a starter for all three, before he graduated with degrees in finance and marketing and communications. Before becoming a fighter, Gordon worked as a sales consultant.
So what got him into MMA?
Seems it was a bet with some none too convinced friends that Gordon could make it in the sport.
“I was watching BJ Penn on PPV at a friends house. I told the guys “I can do this” and they laughed at me. Then the group of us went to UFC 101. I aid it again and they laughed again and bet me I couldn’t.”
If the ribbing from his friends wasn’t quite enough to spur Gordon on, a chance encounter with an old buddy from high school was.
“The next week (after UFC 101) I ran into my good friend Chris Weidman, and he took me under his wing. The rest is history.”
Weidman himself would make history three years later, when he dethroned long-reigning middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva to become the UFC middleweight champion. It’s this level of fighter being in the gym with him, as well as the brilliant minds dishing out knowledge, that Gordon credits getting him to where he is today.
“Ray Longo, Matt Serra and Eric Hyer taught me everything. I had no MMA experience. I was just a tough football player and they moulded me.”
Gordon also gives Weidman more credit than just taking him to the gym for the first time.
“I get better everyday because I’m lucky to train with the best middleweight in the World and arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter.”
Gordon has indeed gone from strength-to-strength. A former light heavyweight who held the Ring of Combat title in that weight division, he dropped to 185lbs for The Ultimate Fighter where he won the tournament and a UFC contract.
As aforementioned, season 19 was much-maligned for it’s fights, which were perceived to have a lack of action.
One plus Gordon did take from the show is that its schedule, which requires fighters to make weight a few times over a small time period and on short notice, has made future weight cuts seem less arduous for a fighter who is huge at the middleweight limit.
“Making weight three times in five weeks, it doesn’t get any harder than that” Gordon said. “On fight night (after re-hydrating) I’m anywhere from 206lbs to the biggest I ever was which was 211lbs, which happened to be the TUF finale”.
Being big at the weight is no issue to Gordon. He wants to take on higher-ranked opposition in a 185lb weight class which he sees as one full of talented fighters.
“If I could fight any one 185lber in the division it would be anyone with a pulse and higher ranked than me. The division is stacked with great fighters,” Gordon said, also noting he was in a rush. “I’m trying to work my way up fast so the bigger challenge the better.”
At the top of his division is old friend Chris Weidman.
With two title defences under his belt, Weidman has former UFC light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort in his sights.
Responding to my asking for his thoughts on recent images surfacing of Belfort looking much smaller following the outlawing of testosterone replacement therapy, Gordon thinks Vitor needs all the help he can get when he comes to facing off with his Serra-Longo teammate.
“It’s scary” said Gordon. “He is in a world of trouble. I almost feel bad like they should let him use TRT for this fight because it’s going to get ugly. Chris is a huge 185lber. Vitor off the TRT looks like a 170lber. Vitor is a great guy, I just feel like he is in over his head.”
One fighter who not only wouldn’t be at a size disadvantage against Weidman is UFC light heavyweight champion Jon ‘Bones’ Jones, who recently said he’d welcome a super fight with his fellow champion. Gordon doesn’t fancy ‘Bones’ chances should that fight ever come to fruition.
“Jones is great but there is no doubt in my mind that Chris would win”, said Gordon, although he admitted he may not be the best person to ask. “I’m obviously biased, but I think he (Weidman) is the best today”.
Eddie Gordon will be hoping to use his raw athletic gifts and constantly-improving skills to become the next elite fighter from the Serra-Longo Fight Teams.
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