D’Juan Owens takes on Nate Andrews for the CES lightweight title in the main event of CES 51 on Friday night in Lincoln, R.I., LIVE on AXS TV Fights, the man fans know as “Dirty South” caught up with FightBookMMA.
How did you find MMA in the first place?
Initially, I was just a fan. I was a fan of the sport. I was in the Marine Corps at the time. They used to have the Ultimate Fighter when I was younger, living in the barracks. It was the first season – the one with Rashad and them. My roommate and I would be in the barracks, watching the show, and fell in love with it. I was always a fan. I always said, “when I get out, I’m going to do this one day.” I didn’t have any serious intentions, it was that false bravado. I didn’t have wrestling, striking, or jujitsu background. I started to get a little chubby once my contract was up – we didn’t have mandatory PTs when I was a civilian, so I checked out an MMA gym. And the rest is history.
How do you feel about your accomplishments so far?
I feel good. I feel like my body of work is accomplished. I feel accomplished. I set the sights higher when I was younger, I had to get to the big show. The older and more experience I get in the sport, I realize there’s so much more to getting there. The grooming process, picking fights. There was no MMA scene while I was coming up. I had ten professional fights against the home guy, in their states and I won six or seven of those fights. But, they were always set up for that other person. I feel accomplished. I’ve beat some UFC, Bellator, and Strikeforce vets. I’ve fought internationally five times – Russia and Peru three times. I feel good, man.
What would that CES belt mean to you?
It’d mean a lot to me because everyone knows that CES is one of the largest promotions outside of the big show. I think that CES, PFL – these are all around the same level. They’re the highest paying and most prestigious shows outside of the big two in North America. They also have that AXS TV deal with top level commentators. The CES belt is pretty significant. It’s a big feeder to the big shows.
Do you know much about your opponent, Nate Andrews?
Believe it or not, I cornered against him once. I think it was his only loss. I was their corner with another buddy. He didn’t have a corner – I don’t know what happened – something happened with travel or something. I didn’t even know Jimmy Atkins at that time, but he cornered him and beat Nate. I saw Nate fight live and up-close, way back in 2014. Obviously, he’s got much better. He’s good, he’s well-rounded. He’s long, he’s a southpaw. That’s tricky for people to deal with. He’s a solid opponent – 12-1. He’s the opposite of the way I came up. I feel like I came up the hard route – I’m travelling around, doing things while all of his fights are on CES. That doesn’t mean he’s getting hand-picked opponents, but I guarantee you he’s had full training camps. There’s a certain part of me that sees us coming up and our paths merging and this is another reason I want the belt – I want to bust his ass. It didn’t come to me like that. It didn’t come easy, I had to fight for it. I had to scrap for every opportunity I’ve got.
How does this fight end?
I don’t see this fight ending any later than the third round, but more than likely me submitting Nate after ground and pounding him. I see it starting out on our feet, trading blows, eventually – I don’t know if I’m going to drop him or what – I see this fight ending with me on top and him giving me something. Either his back or getting caught in an arm triangle.