Go ahead.  Count him out.  Dwayne Lewis doesn’t really mind.  He’s been counted out before, and he’s been the afterthought of some pundits looking at the steadily improving light heavyweight division in the MFC. He doesn’t mind because he knows what his doubters expect; he knows what his true fans believe, and he damn well knows what his heart tells him is possible. He is, after all, the Cinderella Man of MMA.

For those who don’t know, Cinderella Man is the story of boxer Jimmy Braddock, a fighter who overcame outstanding odds to win the world heavyweight title in 1935. You may be wondering what the connection is to MFC standout, Dwayne Lewis.  He’s not a boxer.  He’s not fighting for the title yet, and 1935?  He’s not that old, so what’s the deal?

Jimmy Braddock stepped up when called upon.  This is where the story of Dwayne Lewis begins.  He was a kick boxer when he met Sandy Bowman and started training in his club.  Bowman had just started his affiliation with Pat Miletich and Miletich Fighting Systems, and Lewis had been training for less than 6 months when fate came knocking. Bowman walked in one snowy Friday afternoon and made an announcement to all the guys in the club, “Who wants to fight at Rumble in the Cage 21?”  In a moment of foreshadowing for his entire career, Lewis didn’t hesitate.  He threw his hand up.  Soon after, he walked into hostile territory against a local fighter and scored the 33-second TKO. “After that I was hooked,” said a smiling Lewis.

Jimmy Braddock fought for his fans.  This is how the story of Dwayne Lewis has grown.  Simply put, fighters fight.  Some fight for glory.  Some fight for paycheques.  Lewis fights for his fans. It’s no wonder they literally follow him from city to city to see him live in action.  His pride grows from putting on shows, not from padding his record with easy Ws.  When asked about his exciting and risky style, he was candid in sharing his motivation. “It gets my fans up on their feet and cheering, and that’s all that matters to me.” Those are easy words to spit out, but the Cinderella Man of MMA doesn’t have to say it.  He lives it.  One still has to wonder if he gets concerned about losing in an increasingly competitive light heavyweight division, but don’t wonder, he’ll tell you himself, “I’d rather go down in a blaze of glory.”

Jimmy Braddock disillusioned doubters. This is when the story of Dwayne Lewis gets real.  Most pundits counted Lewis out against Marvin Eastman.  The guy had too much experience. Lewis was supposed to lose to Razak Al-Hassen, the MMA veteran was on a 4-fight win streak.  Few predicted Lewis could build a successful MMA career because he was starting too late.  He was 32.  Despite all this doubt, Dwayne Lewis had at least one person who always believed in him.  Himself. With that belief, he devastated Eastman, defeated Hassen, and drove his MMA career to become arguably the most popular fighter on the MFC roster.

Jimmy Braddock worked hard for his family.  This is where the story of Dwayne Lewis hits home.  Outside of the work he puts in during training and in the ring, Lewis holds down a full time job to support his 3 young children – Brandi, Logan, and Summer. His wife of 9 years, Christa, works with him to keep the family strong, and he recognizes the importance of their marriage and partnership, “She is definitely the anchor of our family.  Without her, I wouldn’t be doing this.”  During work days, as fights are approaching, Lewis’ days start at 3:30am and end at 11:30pm as he balances work, training, and time with his family.  He will tell you it’s all worth it, “It’s something I can look back on and share with my kids.” When asked where he finds the strength, he told the MFC, he does it for his loved ones, “I come home, and all my friends and family are so proud.  That really gives me the drive to push on for another fight.”

Jimmy Braddock became the champion.  This chapter is not yet complete in the career of Dwayne “D-Bomb” Lewis, but fans get the feeling that an outline is being written, and Lewis is authoring the story himself. He has a close relationship with Sandy Bowman and a dynamic training team at Bowman’s MMA.  The club has great depth in Miletich Fighting Systems, high level BJJ, world class taekwondo, and strong kickboxing.  Lewis also has a growing list of sponsors from Heritage Harley Davidson, CarMacks, Birch Mountain, Great Plains Security and Western RV, to the Edmonton Rush and Staredown Fight Wear, so his shorts stay looking good (and profitable).  Indeed, Dwayne Lewis has the pieces in place to make big things happen.

Big things start this Friday at MFC 32 Bitter Rivals when Lewis hits the ring with dangerous MMA veteran Wilson Gouveia.   Will D-Bomb be counted out again?  He doesn’t seem to care either way. “I’m always told I’m just a bum with heavy hands, and I go with it.”  Apparently his hectic schedule isn’t enough to dampen his sense of humour because Lewis knows his training at Bowman’s gives him much, much more than heavy hands.  Then again, heavy hands may be all he needs.  He predicted what we all expect, “I think you’re going to see a dogfight, man. Once he comes in to trade bombs, I’m not going to be taking a step back.  I’m going to be taking a step forward.”

That step forward in the ring may also be a big step forward in his career.  The stage is set with a sell-out crowd, a packed venue, a wild fight, and a worldwide broadcast.  Jimmy Braddock was in legendary fights, and this could easily be a fight worth talking about come December’s reflections on the MMA happenings of 2012.  It all goes down this Friday, and Lewis couldn’t be more ready.  Then again, maybe he’s just a bum with heavy hands.

Go ahead.  Count him out.

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