Dashawn Boatwright Believes Ancestors Guided Him to Contender Series Opportunity
On Tuesday evening, Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series returns for its sophomore season. The hit UFC Fight Pass original fight series took the MMA world by storm last summer and has fight fans buzzing about its return.
Featuring some of the best regional fighters from all over North America, the first season produced a handful of promising future UFC stars including Sean O’Malley, Julian Marquez, Lauren Mueller, and Kurt Holobaugh.
Viewers expect this season to be no different. Looking over the season’s lineup, it is arguably even more stacked than the first, which is saying something. The first episode (6/12), in particular, is overflowing with high-level talent.
In the evening’s main event, Season 1 alumni Alonzo Menifield (6-0) takes on relative unknown Dashawn Boatwright (3-0).
Virgina’s Boatwright fervor for MMA is rooted in his love for kickboxing. Once weighing as much as 280 pounds, he translated his passion for watching the UFC into competing in MMA himself. It was an easy transition for the bearded big man, as his father, Darrell Ellis, owns DNA Fitness — a gym that Boatwright still trains at to this day.
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The past year and a half has been difficult for Boatwright. Despite being predominantly healthy, opponent drop offs and the lack of available fights hindered his rise up the ranks. Boatwright finally has caught his big break with the Contender Series, and is thrilled to get back in the cage.
“It was extremely frustrating because when you’re looking up at the mountain, you can’t see the other side,” said Boatwright in an interview with MMA Today. “[At the time,] I’m just thinking MMA might not be meant for me. I got to 3-0 and maybe it was time for me to bow gracefully. [In retrospect,] I feel like all of those events were leading up to this point.”
The spiritual veneration for those who passed is deeply engrained in Boatwright. He feels a connection to those who have moved on, and believes they are escorting him throughout his career.
“I believe we’re spiritual beings,” explained Boatwright. “When a powerful spirit or person moves on, their essence stays around. I feel like these people guide. If you have a special destiny, the ancestors will gravitate to you and guide your towards your destination.”
In Boatwright’s mind, the ancestors played a large role in the opportunity at hand.
I feel like the ancestors had my back and guided me along this path,” described Boatwright. “I feel like the ancestors were speaking to me. I’ve been training since my last pullout. I didn’t know why I was training hard — I didn’t even have a fight.”
Notified of the opportunity four weeks after his opponent, Menifield, Boatwright isn’t too concerned about only having a four week camp. Nicknamed “Buck the 400-Pound Silverback,” Boatwright believes his unique skillset will help him overcome the slightly short notice.
“I’m a big black silverback,” said Boatwright. “I’ll punch you in the face, kick you in the face, submit you, outwrestle you — I’ll do whatever it takes to get the win. Plain and simple. The gorilla takes charge.”
As for his opponent and the matchup he presents, Boatwright views him as a very similar fighter to himself.
“I think he’s like the bizarre world me,” laughed Boatwright. “He’s got the mohawk and the build, but he doesn’t have the beard. He played football and so did I. It’s superman versus superman.”
“I like to play my fights out,” continued Boatwright. “It looks like a new me each fight. I’m predicting a finish, but I just don’t know where the finish will come.”
A victory won’t necessarily guarantee Boatwright a contract. The 30-year-old will have to impress UFC President Dana White, by winning in style. Boatwright doesn’t see this stipulation being an issue.
“As a fighter, you’re also an entertainer,” said Boatwright. “You want to put on a performance for Dana White, or the average blow who’s going to pay thirty dollars to see you fight. They’re paying their hard earned money so it’s up to you to put on a show.”
“I feel like if I go on and put on a great performance and show all my tools, I could get a contract outright,” continued Boatwright. “I’m getting this win.”
“I want to thank Darrell Ellis and everyone over at DNA Fitness. I want to thank Rick McCoy and everyone at MMA Institute. A special thanks go to Brian Nielson and Shawn who have been helping me with my conditioning. I want to thank my management company, SuckerPunch Entertainment. Thanks to Brian Butler and David Arvelo. Thanks to all my family, friends, supporters, and training partners. If you’ve ever held mitts for me, sparred with me, or given me any of your time, this one’s for you!” – BUCK
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