Eddie Gordon’s time playing football at Fordham University helped lay the foundation for his successful mixed martial arts career.
The former Rams defensive lineman and Freeport, Long Island native credited his playing days with providing him with the mental toughness, professionalism and relentlessness that led to him winning season 19 of The Ultimate Fighter in early July. Gordon, nicknamed “Truck,” earned a six-figure contract with the UFC by defeating Dhiego Lima via TKO at 1:11 of the first round in the middleweight final in Las Vegas.
“The final I was really who I am,” Gordon said. “I’m a very aggressive, relentless person. That’s the whole football mentality. Playing defense you have to make things happen.”
He certainly did so during his time in The Bronx also. Gordon was a three-year starter. He was named Second Team All-Patriot League in 2004 and 2005. Gordon, who graduated with a business degree in 2006, compiled 169 total tackles in his career, 67 solo, including 21 for a loss, and 12 sacks. His years at Rose Hill showed him how dedicated you need to be to succeed, because football has no offseason, much like mixed marital arts.
“I’m so used to training all year round and more importantly it helped me improve rapidly,” Gordon said.
The former Ring of Combat light heavyweight champion did need a push to take up fighting as a career. Six years ago, Gordon was working in banking when he ran into childhood friend, former high school football teammate and current UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman at a fitness center. Weidman, who had already taken up the sport, convinced Gordon to give it a look. He watched a UFC pay-per-view and he was hooked.
Gordon admitted to not being a natural at first while training with Matt Serra and Ray Longo at Serra-Longo in Huntington, but he developed quickly. Gordon was close to 300 pounds at the start, but his weight dropped quickly as he worked at his craft. Pushing himself was something he already knew plenty about
“Fordham helped me, all those runs and [running] bleachers,” he said. “It’s that hard work and work ethic.”
Gordon entered the Ultimate Fighter house with the advantage of training against Weidman daily, but had to battle a broken toe he suffered just before shooting began six months ago. He hid it from his fellow castmates by wearing sneakers as often as possible. Gordon said it affected his motor in the cage during his road to the final. It turned out to be something that may have helped him in the long run.
“I couldn’t be aggressive,” he said. “I couldn’t really push off as much. … It worked out in my favor because people didn’t realize how good I was coming out of the show because I wasn’t at 100 percent.”
His life has changed since his victory, which also earned him a custom-made Harley Davison. Gordon, who is hoping to fight again this fall, is much more recognized than before. He has celebrities, such as Taye Diggs, reaching out to him via email or social media in support. Gordon joked that he checked the verification on Diggs’ Twitter account just to be safe.
It’s all taken some getting used to. He has gone from a hometown celebrity to a more national one. The fame is earned and Gordon hasn’t gotten caught up in it. He’s just soaking it all in during this journey — the foundation for which was laid during his year playing football at Fordham.
“You are a lot more recognizable when you are on national television for 13 weeks,” Gordon said. “It’s a little bit crazy, but crazy for a good reason.”