CES 50: Dread Him, Run from Him; “Sweatbread” Will Still Beat You Down
With his CES 50 main event coming up this Friday night, Dinis Paiva‘s mindset going into this fight is simple.
“Win — I’m just going in to win,” declared Paiva (11-6) in an interview with MMA Today. “I’ve fought with CES my entire career, and this fight is a dream come true. It’s [been] eighteen fights with the organization so [my] dedication speaks for itself. It’s been such a journey thus far. I’m looking forward to a good fight and putting on a good show and coming out with a victory.”
The pressure doesn’t get to the strong-willed Paiva. His game plan is the always the same: outwork his opponent, and know what they’re going to do before they do. “Sweetbread” feels ready to put on a vintage performance at the Twin River Casino this Friday against California’s Andre Ewell (12-4).
“[Ewell] has a pretty good boxing background,” said Paiva, of his opponent. “[He’s a] good striker overall. He’s no slouch. These are the kind of guys I can count on to get me to the next level.”
According to the 29-year-old, the best is yet to come. Despite getting the job done using predominantly his striking, Paiva feels he hasn’t been able to display much of his wrestling.
“A lot of people don’t know I was a three time state finalist,” explained Paiva. “I have a very solid background in wrestling.”
“I wanted to be a superhero so bad growing up.”
Growing up, Paiva was bullied hard. In order to deal with these issues, he turned to boxing and wrestling. Paiva’s biggest fear entering his first wrestling season?
“I wasn’t having it. My math teacher was the coach and he guaranteed me some extra credit if I stuck it out for two weeks,” laughed Paiva. “I got on the mat and it really felt natural to me.”
UFC fighters with wrestling backgrounds, like Matt Hughes, served as a huge inspiration for Paiva to go forward with his mixed martial arts career.
“If you would have asked me then if I would be fighting and making a career out of it, I would have never guessed it in a million years, said Paiva.”
Earning CES’s main event slot is a dream come true for the Rhode Island native. The organization and Paiva have grown up together. Paiva can’t help but to think of how his prolific rise through the ranks as the prelim curtain-jerker to title fight headliner.
“Everything that I pour my heart and soul into has finally come to fruition,” said Paiva, proudly. “I shed a few tears when I got home and realized I was going to be the main event. I’ve envisioned this moment, I’ve envisioned that belt around my waist.”
Entering Friday’s clash, Paiva has the upmost respect for Ewell. He knows he’s a mix martial artist just like himself, but, he feels he won’t be denied.
“I don’t even envision a quick victory,” continued Paiva. “I envision a back and forth war between Andre and myself.”
“He’s going to have to kill me to get out of there with that belt.”
The elephant in the room:
Where does one acquire the nickname “Sweetbread?”
“So, I’m Polish, like right off the boat,” said Paiva. “One of the trainers who I work with was notorious for giving people the most ridiculous nicknames you could imagine. His old nickname was ‘Raw Dog.’ I went through a series of nicknames before I got ‘Sweetbread.’ I got everything from Prince of Portugal, to Portuguese Man O’ War.”
“And then, Sweetbread came in,” recalled Paiva. “He actually said I had a small head. They were laughing because I had a buzz cut. So he asked me ‘You got a little head. What’s that dish with the egg in the middle?’ I was like, ‘Sweetbread’ and he started calling me that.”
I was like of all names, God no, not Sweetbread,” laughed Paiva. “Do not call me Sweetbread. So it was actually my last amateur bout and I’m in the corner getting ready for the fight. I can see him whispering to the ring announcer something, I didn’t know. I’m just getting ready for the fight and the announcer says, ‘Dennis Paiva, Sweetbread.’ I looked over at him like dude you are such an asshole. Now the name has stuck. It’s been a huge part of my life.”
As for the future, Paiva has his eyes set on the UFC. Some may want to write off his 11-6 record, but records in mixed martial arts can be deceiving. After kicking off his career at 3-5, Paiva has won eight out of his last nine bouts.
“That’s always been the goal,” said Paiva. “My manager knows that I really wanted this title shot. He wanted me in the spotlight. I fought for a title as an amateur not a pro. The Contender Series will be available, but we have this title. It gives me a chance to have all eyes on me for a moment.”