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July 21, 2022



Portland, Maine (July 20, 2022)

 The tongue-in-cheek adage, “Those who can’t do, teach,” initially paraphrased from a George Bernard Shaw play more than a century ago, is of course an unfair generalization.

 It is true, though, that some of the greatest coaches and trainers in sports history were journeymen or even mere spectators at the highest level of their endeavor, while some of the greatest performers of all time couldn’t translate that into world-class instruction when others were on the stage.

 Not even two years into his transition from Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Bellator and New England Fights (NEF) veteran to full-time mixed martial arts (MMA) coach, Devin Powell has established himself as one who both tasted top-of-the-mountain success and has the knack for shepherding others in that direction.

 Together with his wife, Carol Linn, Powell is at the center of an explosion of talent inside the padded and caged walls of Nostos MMA in Somersworth, New Hampshire. The power couple’s gym will send fighters into a stunning seven of the 16 scheduled bouts on the docket at NEF 48: “Heatwave,” scheduled for Saturday, July 30 at Thompson’s Point in Portland, Maine. Opening bell time is 7 p.m.

 “I think it all kind of started after I retired,” Powell said. “I knew what I wanted to do with everything, and I knew what I wasn’t getting for myself, and it’s what I wanted to create for the guys that I wanted to do what I did but do it better. I tried to create a very strict, specific system for them to really give them absolutely every opportunity to get to the big leagues and stay there.”

 Powell’s stable of fighters on the card includes professionals Cody Lightfoot and Nathaniel Grimard and amateurs Kyle Hill, David Burke, John Marcley, Alex Morris and Key Baltazar. At a gym that features between 250 and 300 members, more than 20 are presently training to participate in a combat sport.

 They bask daily in the knowledge of a mentor who earned his big break in a bloody, resilient 2016 win over Jon Lemke at an NEF event with UFC president Dana White present, leading to a contract that exposed him to international audiences in Phoenix, Oklahoma City, Calgary and Buenos Aires. Powell later fought twice for Bellator at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut before calling it a career after a unanimous decision loss to Manny Muro on November 12, 2020.

 “If I wanted to be there forever, I probably would’ve had to close my gym down. That’s kinda the dedication it takes,” Powell said. “Not many people can be a full-time coach and also be coached full-time and actually pursue it as a career. It’s a very selfish sport, even though we have an incredible team, but you do need to train for yourself. You need to be coached. You need to get one-on-one time. You need to be watched.”

 It's a serendipitous partnership with his wife, whose business acumen and equally tireless work ethic keep the site humming at full song. Carol Linn Powell has dipped her toes in the MMA, grappling and kickboxing pools herself to gain a better understanding of what fighters want and need to compete at the highest level.

 “I try to do everything I can to just make everything a little bit easier for them. I’ve fought myself, so I kind of know the things it would have been nice to have somebody else do. I help them all with their medicals. I help with T-shirt sales, ticket sales, sponsors, just kind of helping ease everything along,” she said. “Devin and I will communicate and both be in on the decision-making for who gets to fight and the matchups and everything. I pretty much have the role of talking with everybody. I’m that point of contact. Every time anybody needs something done, that is me doing it or figuring out how it can get done.”

 The Powells strive to give their fighters the blueprint Devin didn’t have when he was ascending through the ranks. Their vision for Nostos is a one-stop shop for all their training needs and where the coaches/owners are always in-house.

 Devin gained insight from an impressive roster of respected coaches and training partners along the way, including Bill Jones, Joe Lauzon and Charles Rosa.

 “It opened my eyes a lot. I was just trying to run a gym full-time and also get back into fighting, because I took a little break once I opened the gym. I knew what changes I had to make,” he said. “We have absolutely everything inside the gym from strength and conditioning to Muay Thai to wrestling to sparring to technical sparring to MMA practices, jiu-jitsu, gi, nogi every single day. We’ve literally got it all. We have two rooms running almost full time, up and down stairs that’s doing everything. In my head, I knew once I started going against guys from the biggest gyms in the world what I didn’t have, and it was something I chose to separate myself from, and that was to run my own gym.”

 Carol Linn also immersed herself in the sport during those years, although she admitted there was an ulterior motive.

 “I didn’t know anything about MMA before I started dating Devin in August 2013. Not too long after that he opened the gym and was still working a full-time job while also still running the gym, and I was like I’d better start training, or I’m never gonna get to see my boyfriend,” she recalled. “I started training and really enjoyed cracking pads. I feel like I was able to pick it up pretty quickly and just kinda did it for fun for a while. After a couple years it was like, ‘I think I could do that one day.’ Being in the managerial position, I felt like I should get in there and know more of what it’s about, and I think that has really helped with everything else.”

 Consistency is the name of the game for Devin, who noted that all the bouncing around at the pinnacle of his career didn’t always pay off in the hubbub of fight night.

 “It shouldn’t be stressful when somebody’s yelling at you in the cage if they’re yelling at you every single day. And then when you get coached for the first time in a long time and it’s when you’re inside a cage in front of 20,000 people, and you’re hearing somebody yelling instructions when nobody watches you train, it can be pretty overwhelming and stressful,” he said. “So I make sure that these guys have that. That situation is very normal to them. Every day they hear me yelling. They hear my voice, and if we go and travel it’s almost their peace of mind to hear that. There’s familiarity.”

 Rosa was the only other UFC veteran Powell said he knew personally before his own initial date with the major-league promotion against Drakkar Close in 2017.

 “I knew so little at that time about the inner workings of everything,” Devin said. “Then all of a sudden I got signed, and I’m taking a fight in a sold-out Phoenix Suns arena. I think maybe if I knew more about it and then I was doing it, it wouldn’t have been so surreal. Now I know so much about it, but my time has passed, and I’m so happy that I know so much now about it. My experience with it, it was great. I knew changes that needed to be made so I could stay there, and I’m choosing to bring those lessons and those things that needed to be learned to these guys rather than give up on my gym to keep pursuing it myself.”

 Between Devin’s coaching and Carol Linn’s management and promotion, Nostos MMA fighters don’t have to look outside the walls of their seacoast stable for guidance.

 In addition to stepping into the cage, Carol Linn also has received on-the-job training on the other side of that locked door.

 “My very first time cornering and helping someone for a fight was Devin’s UFC fights,” she said. “I cornered him for the very first time for the UFC Calgary fight, and I think if I had not fought before doing that, it would have been so much different. It was nice to have that first-hand experience to be in the cage to help him and help all our other fighters.”

 Although fighters are known for never truly retiring, Devin, who went 10-5 in the pros, sounds like a man who is at peace with that chapter of his life.

 Even before walking away from the sport that has resulted in a double-digit number of post-fight operations, he had begun tasting the fruits of that grueling labor in the form of supporting actor roles in two motion pictures, “Spenser Confidential” with Mark Wahlberg and “Mother/Android” starring Chloe Grace Moretz.

 “I just didn’t want to do it anymore. Honestly, at my last fight, I knew before the fight if I didn’t win, I was gonna retire inside the cage. I knew in my heart I was going to,” he said. “The fights themselves weren’t paying off financially at all (compared to) how much hurt and injuries I had. I’m already over 10 surgeries. What I made in my fights all combined, my four UFC, my two Bellator and all the other local combined is probably less than 50 percent of my medical bills. It just wasn’t worth the squeeze anymore.”

 Carol Linn doesn’t dare to presume her days of sitting restlessly in a waiting room are over.

“He almost gets beat up more now than when he was fighting just coaching full time, ‘cause he’s trying so hard to give these guys everything that he never had,” she said. “I think about it sometimes, if only he could’ve had himself as head coach. If he could be in the room that he’s in now, we would have been just absolutely unstoppable. It’s almost like the same thing with me having that fighting experience to try and better understand everything. Him getting to the top and everything is only gonna help everybody else. We’re gonna know exactly what to expect, exactly how to get our guys to that level. I’m so excited about our future as a gym and all of our fighters. We’ve got something really special, and anyone that comes to cross-train or to visit can see it right away.”

 Every so often, Devin stops to take inventory of what the couple has built and allows his mind to follow that same path.

 “I know so many things that these guys can do and things that they should lean away from, and I’m excited to see their journey,” he said. “I never had a room like that, which is so exciting, ‘cause I still got (to the top). It’s funny, because our first gym which was such a cool gym, Seacoast MMA, we had a boxing ring and jiu-jitsu mats. But the first time I was ever against a wall was in a fight. I had never been in a cage. I had been in a boxing ring, so I’d felt ropes, but I almost didn’t realize how important it was to have that. Now these guys can’t train in a single area that doesn’t have walls. Everything is wall-padded or cage-paneled, the entire upstairs and downstairs.”

 Even when COVID-19 brought MMA in New England mostly to a screeching halt, the Powell’s say Nostos benefited from the reset and the break to analyze how they were going about their business. Gym members also made two trips to Florida, where their previous record of six fighters appeared on one card.

 “I’m so interested to see how it’s set up. I think it will be a monumental night for our gym and for NEF,” Carol Linn said of the seaside venue. “This is the biggest night in our gym’s history for sure. We have so much to show everybody, and we’re really excited.”

 NEF 48: “Heatwave” is the second outdoor card in the history of the organization. Nostos will feature Lightfoot in the feature fight against Ras Hylton and Hill in an amateur title bout with Curtis Ouellette. Tickets are on sale now at

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