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Lightweight “Wrestler-Turned-Striker” Te Edwards Gunning For UFC Contract

A family man, a veteran and a top mixed martial arts prospect, Virginia's Te Edwards is a jack of all trades!

This Veteran’s Day weekend, the UFC will be hosting a UFC Fight Night event in Norfolk, Virginia.  Looking over the card from top to bottom, the event is stacked with action-packed matchups on paper.  Headlined by a five round main event showdown between top lightweights Anthony “Showtime” Pettis and Dustin Poirier, it is extremely hard to complain.  However, it seems that despite all of this, the UFC may have missed out on a golden opportunity in the form of a local prospect.

Surging lightweight prospect Te Edwards (5-1) is not only a Virginia native, but also a veteran of the United States Army and a current member of the United States Air Force.  As a matter of fact, back in his college days, Edwards competed in the very arena in which the UFC event is being held back.  When the card was announced earlier this year, it seemed to be fate for Edwards, but things did not work out.  Anyone who knows Edwards will know that while it may be disappointing, the 27-year-old MMA LAB product will not let anything hold him back.

Edwards’s entry into the sport of mixed martial arts stems from his NCAA Division 1 college wrestling career at Arizona State University (ASU).  With the drive to compete still flowing throughout his being post-collegiate wrestling career, it was only a natural fit that Edwards would find himself beginning to train for amateur MMA fights.  Before he knew it, Edwards was having a profound amount of success at the amateur level.  Knowing that this was a career worth pursuing, Edwards decided he needed to be “all in” if he wanted to compete at a higher level.  So he packed up his things and moved out west to Arizona to train alongside fellow alumni Ryan Bader and Aaron Simpson at Power MMA and Fitness in Gilbert, Arizona.

After a little while, Edwards began cross-training with the world-famous MMA Lab gym under head coach John Crouch, and eventually made the switch a full time deal.  Edwards was just amazed at what came across each day walking through the gym’s doors.  “Initially it was terrifying,” laughs Edwards.  “It was just a room full of killers and the learning curve was really steep.  I had a decent background with wrestling and grappling, and my striking was decent at best, so I just went in there and got humbled immediately.  I got better at tapping than anything else during those first few months.”

The MMA Lab, while contributing to Edwards’s improvement as a fighter, has not been the only driving factor.  The knowledge and mental fortitude Edwards has acquired from his time in the United States Air Force, as well as his previous stint with United States Army has been huge for him.  “Discipline and teamwork tie a lot into it,” says Edwards.  “The Army is real big on a ‘not feeling sorry for yourself’ mentality.  At the end of the day, MMA is just a sport.  There are no life or death scenarios.  In the Army, at the end of the day, if something goes wrong you could lose a limb or lose your life.  It gives you a real perspective into the sport.”

Motivation is important to Edwards, which he finds in his young son.  “I’ve always loved to compete, but having him around is definitely more motivation to set up a better future for him and be a good role model.  I love to come home from a hard a practice or a fight to chill out and play with him.  It keeps you down to earth.  No matter how far you go in this sport when it begins to get a little overwhelming, at the end of the day it’s still just for fun.  There are a lot more important things to deal with like your family, your son, or your offspring.  That is going to supersede anything else.”

Edwards is not only a gifted individual outside the cage.  His fight tape and nearly unblemished record speak for themselves.  After dropping his second professional bout back in June of 2014, Edwards has bounced back winning all four ensuing bouts by first round knockout.  In fact, if you filter out the one decision loss on his professional record, Edwards has a total, accumulated in-cage time of approximately seven minutes.  For a fighter labeled as a wrestler, Edwards has displayed some phenomenal striking abilities and fierce power.

“I wrestled for ten to twelve years [before] I got into the sport,” explains Edwards.  “I watched it.  I followed it.  I was never excited watching wrestling– even watching collegiate wrestling.  You know what’s going on.  You know the magnitude of the matches and the matchups, but at the end of the day it’s just not as exciting as watching people try to take each other’s heads off.  We’re a violent race of people.  The human race loves destruction.  We want to see head kicks and knockouts and stuff, so I decided early on in my career to be that kind of fighter.  I don’t want to go out and wrestle for ten more years.  I’ve done that.  I want to knock people out and put on a good show, because that is what will fast track you into a bigger promotion.”

In his most recent fight this past September, Edwards finished Brandon Trujillo by- you guessed it- first round knockout.  The win didn’t come without its price however, as Edwards suffered a hand injury that has kept him out of action since.  “I’m just trying to get my hand healthy and rack up some more wins,” says Edwards.  “The ultimate goal is to get signed by the UFC, Bellator or one of these bigger promotions where I can make a full time career out of it and not have to worry about trying fights here and there.  Then I can dedicate my time and efforts to trying to move up the ranks in one of these promotions.  The knockouts and everything– I think they’re going over well.  I’ll keep putting guys away and putting on these dominant performances.  Then we can hopefully sign some papers soon and make this a full time job.”


“I’d like to thank my team as always.  John Crouch and my teammates and my coaches have been more than accommodating and helpful.  My MMA journey has been kind of up and down– just due to to family life and work, and trying to balance paying the bills and pursuing this dream.  They’ve been very understanding that I have a family and a son, and that I can’t always dedicate all my time to training because I’m trying to make ends meet.  They’re always there for support and help me out however they can, so I’m more than appreciative and grateful to have them.”- Te Edwards

To learn more about Te Edwards, follow him on social media:

Twitter: @teedwards_
Facebook: Te Edwards MMA
Instagram: @teedwards_

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Nolan King is a MMA Today senior columnist, writer and renowned MMA insider. Nolan's other freelance work can also be found on FloCombat, Tapology, and MMA Brasil.