Unless you happen to be a true diehard fan of mixed martial arts, chances are you have never head the name Andre Ewell. That could change in the near future if the Riverside, California, native has his way.
Ewell is fresh off a stellar finish of Dinis Paiva less than a month ago at CES 50, where he captured the vacant CES MMA bantamweight crown; and much like Andre Soukhamthath, his predecessor atop the promotion’s 135-pound weight class, Ewell is looking toward the greener pastures of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. That opportunity is simply one phone call away.
By the time Ewell pulled off the third-round brabo choke on Paiva, he had already been exposed to the chaotic nature of the sport. After an unsuccessful run as a professional boxer, he made his move to MMA permanent in 2015 and got off to a strong start. Having already been licensed as a pro fighter, Ewell had to make that transition without the benefit of developing as an amateur. Unfortunately, that meant learning lessons that counted on his record. His growing pains were apparent in his alternating wins and losses after a 3-0 start. Questionable regulation was to blame in his eyes. In referencing two decisions that compose half of the blemishes on his resume, Ewell said simply, “They know I won.”
Ewell began to put it all together after that dark streak and rattled off four consecutive wins, culminating in a rear-naked choke submission against UFC vet Willie Gates. However, the momentum came to a screeching halt in his next outing, as he was submitted by Patrick Mix in a King of the Cage title fight. Just a few short weeks later, the Apex MMA standout returned to the win column and began the four-fight winning streak -- all finishes -- that led to his first taste of championship gold.
Realizing success after such a rollercoaster ride has only emboldened Ewell in his staunch belief in self-empowerment and positive reinforcement. Hoping to venture beyond the second-tier MMA promotions is not a common aspiration for a bantamweight at the age of 30. That is typically when fighters in lighter weight classes are at the point when their physical skills begin to decline. However, this does not seem to faze Ewell. Leaning on his practice of Buddhism, his insistence on positivity of the mind has him waiting to hear from UFC matchmakers.
“It’s only a matter of time,” Ewell said. “I know I’m high on the list to get that call-up.” In the meantime, Ewell keeps in shape and trains full-time while hoping to find a spot on the upcoming UFC 227 card in nearby Los Angeles. Alternatively, he has been in talks with CES MMA for a potential featherweight appearance in lieu of an immediate title defense. It would be his first appearance in the heavier weight class since a 2016 Gladiator Challenge event. “It’s all about grabbing fans,” Ewell said.
A style reliant on his background in boxing, an unusual reach and height for 135 pounds and an entertaining personality are all good attributes for grabbing those fans as the top-tier promotions vie for whatever available talent is on the open market. Ewell just wants “the world to finally see the hard work” he has put into his craft.
Ewell hopes to show the results of that hard work against whoever the UFC puts in front of him. However, he sees a matchup against budding bantamweight star Sean O’Malley as a potential breakout moment. Pairing the strike-heavy styles of two particularly tall, lanky and reach-heavy bantamweights seems to get a specific rise out of the already animated combatant.
Beyond his quest for glory in the cage, his personal battles are even more dramatic. Ewell has been in an ongoing custody battle over his young son since 2013. His dedication to positive thinking and the self- proclaimed “Monk style” has carried over to this difficult struggle. Refusing to speak an ill word about the mother of his son, he holds out hope that he will be reunited with his child and spread the lessons that make him a beloved boxing coach for kids at his gym.
Ewell’s humble upbringing in the Inland Empire, labored efforts to box professionally, rocky patches in his subsequent MMA career and battles in family court have carved a unique individual with an interesting perspective on the world around him. He swears by a few wise words: “Always be yourself and always look inside yourself for approval.”
With any good fortune swinging his way, Ewell could be stepping foot into an Octagon in the near future. CES MMA is just one of many regional promotions that frequently see its champions sign UFC contracts. Ewell hopes his name can be added to former titleholders like Rob Font, Dominique Steele and John Howard. He does not allow himself to entertain thoughts of missing out on such an opportunity. When faced with fleeting thoughts, he has a simple solution: train more.
The only other scenario in which Ewell wants to invest his time and energy is exploring his talents as a hip hop artist. As an avid fan of the culture, he has been known to freestyle on occasion and even talks in a melodic and sometimes rhyming style. Ewell insists that he holds “the key to a smile that will light up the world.” Perhaps we can look forward to “Mr. Entertainment” walking out to the cage with his own tracks blasting through the arena speakers, and maybe then he can show the world what he already knows.