The Catch Up – UFC Middleweight Darren ‘The Dentist’ Stewart
This week we caught up with rising British UFC middleweight Darren ‘The Dentist’ Stewart following his huge first-round submission win in Las Vegas earlier this month. We talk about the fight game, cheat meals, hype music, and much more.
So first of all congrats on your huge first-round win in Vegas! Was the game plan going in to work for the submission or did you just capitalise on the opportunity?
D: “The game plan for that fight is the same game plan it’s going to be for a very long time, go in there have it out, smash it, brawl, whatever you want to call it. Go for it, that’s the game plan. With me I like to go with the flow so whatever you give to me I’m going to deal with it.”
Darren wearing Emporio Armani AW20
How much does having no crowd in attendance impact the fight and is it easier to listen to your corner’s advice?
D: “I love it, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I know its a necessity because of the whole Covid-19 situation but having no crowd is absolutely beautiful, It’s like training. If you have coaches like mine it’s quality because of how loud they are, they’re so loud you can’t hear your opponent’s corner or anything. With that being said, I do love my fans but I’d rather it stay like this for a while.”
Speaking of Covid-19, how difficult was preparing for the fight? was it tougher than usual?
D: “I took the fight on 3 weeks notice, so I was already back training anyway. Everything was kind of back to normal training-wise at this point too. But during the lock-down I was working out every day at home, my conditioning coach gave us workouts to do and would be on a zoom call with us, so I’ve been staying prepared the entire time. I didn’t train as many times as I wanted to as I’m used to training 3 times a day and during this period it was more like 1 or 2 times, but I still got the work in.”
So you’ve been making some waves in the UFC Middleweight division, is there a name you want next?
D: “So I’d like to run it back with everyone that’s beat me. I feel like everyone that’s beat me won because I’ve made a minor mistake or maybe I’m not as fit and focused as I am now. No one’s ever beat me up, sure I’ve been tapped twice but I’m straight back to the drawing board after. I’m not one of these guys that’s not going to tap, for example if someone puts an armbar on you if your arm breaks you’re not fighting for 6 months, so I’d much rather tap if I really have to and then be ready back at the drawing board as soon as possible.”
Outside of camp what is your favourite cheat meal and why?
D: “I have loads. Latin food like Argentinian steak is a favourite, or I might go for a Turkish mixed donner with loads of bread on the side or I might go for my traditional Jamaican food like rice, peas and jerk chicken or curried goat or sometimes even just a basic Nandos. Like I said I’ve got loads of cheat meals.”
So I’ve been doing a little bit of digging and I’ve read online that you were a salsa dancing champion…do you think being a good dancer and a good fighter go hand in hand?
D: “It definitely works hand in hand. Lots of Footwork, coordination and cardio. When you’re leading a woman dancing you have to be one step ahead, it’s not all about the present. Like if I’m thinking ‘If I do this move how will she move?’ its the exact same with MMA, same with fighting like ‘If I throw this shot where’s my opponent going to move next?’. Goes hand in hand with footwork too, being light on your feet, shuffling, stepping in and everything like that. Not to mention its fun, Salsa is fun and you fighting should be fun. You should always love what you do you know?”.
What are your top 3 songs that get you hyped? pre-fight, training, or anything like that?
D: “It’s not really certain songs for me it’s more genres. I like drill music, especially UK drill and UK Grime, American rap & RNB. No actually, I’m lying to you. Top 3 genres? UK Drill, UK Grime and Bashment – the traditional music where I’m from.”
Darren wearing Armani Exchange AW20
Any Artists in particular you like out of those 3?
D: “Ambush is on the UK Drill ting now, Abra Cadabra too. For Grime we’ve got D Double E, Wiley, Skepta, Kano, Ghetts. For Bashment you’ve got like Vybz Kartel, Popcaan, Beenie Man, I can go on and on.”
Final question, who’s your dream matchup in the cage? any era, any fighter, who would it be?
D: “I haven’t really thought about that you know. At this stage in my career right now it’s all about pushing forward and reaching the top, I haven’t really thought about anyone apart from myself. Ha, a dream match up with myself would be crazy though. Thinking about it I like Bisping man, he goes for it. We talk a lot and I like him, that would be a sick match up – he goes for it, I go for it. I prefer people that tend to brawl and have it out rather than this too technical shit like touch, move and run away.”
You can catch Darren soon in the UFC octagon but alternatively you can find him at @darren_mma on Instagram & Twitter.
Words and photography by Jack Strong