Throughout his life, Jeremiah Wells wasn’t known for his patience. Each sport he tried, ranging from football, basketball and soccer, he would eventually give up. He was living an aimless life, he bred dogs to sell, and worked at a factory among odd jobs to support his child but didn’t have a plan or a goal to guide him. It wasn’t until he started training mixed martial arts that he found a purpose.
Wells had always been an MMA fan, he would watch the fights with his friends and girlfriend who would laugh at him when he said he could be a UFC fighter. But there weren’t any MMA gyms where he grew up in Philadelphia and the Poconos, where Wells lived until he turned 24. But once he found a gym, it was love at first sight. He dedicated himself to the sport and within seven months he was in the cage fighting. It was something he wanted to do for quite a while, but he still wasn’t sure he wanted to pursue it. It was only after that first fight, after the first back and forth exchange that he knew what he was meant for.
“It was something that I never felt before, like a rush but it was a totally different adrenaline rush and I kinda liked it. And I kinda had that thought in the back of my head, is this really what I want to do? And once I got hit and I hit him back and he backed up, I was like yes, this is what I want to do.”
In his third amateur fight, Wells was knocked out by Dave Spadell Jr. in the second round. The loss humbled him and he vowed it wouldn’t happen again.
“I got knocked out by some kid and I was down for two weeks. I read the book The Secret and I made a collage and I built myself up and I went hard, harder than ever and I would never let anyone take that from me again. I would rather die in the cage than let that happen to me again. That’s why I want to go out with a bang every time.”
Wells has gone out with a bang many times since turning professional in 2012. Four of his six wins have come by finish including a win over Gary Balletto Jr. at CES 49. At the time of that fight in 2018, the now 32-year-old fighter had had a hard time getting fights. He received a call from CES to fight Balleto, who was fighting in his hometown and set to become CES’ next big star. But Wells had different plans and knocked him in the first round, breaking Balleto’s jaw in the process.
A few fights and a few victories later, Wells believes he has the full support of the CES family, and more importantly, their respect.
“I really appreciate them now. I had to earn my respect. I really appreciate Pat and Joe, I appreciate them for giving me this opportunity. They tell me all the time they enjoy watching me fight.”
Moments like the Balleto knockout are what drive Wells every day. When he works at a stage hand at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA, setting up stages for the likes of Beyoncé and Jay Z he dreams of the day he will be on the big screen as the UFC champion.
“Every time I’m doing the stage hand thing, I look up at the big screen and I’m like, I’m going to be on this one day, the Wells Fargo, I’m going to be on that one day. Sometimes I get too deep into it and I have tears of joy.”
Now he is closer to his dream than ever before since he became CES’ welterweight champion at CES 52 in his hometown of Philadelphia. He defeated veteran fighter Jason Norwood and it meant a lot to do it in front of his friends and family.
“I was so excited, you see me roaring? I was just letting the next opponent know this is what you’re going to encounter.”
That next opponent is Vinicius de Jesus. De Jesus is 7-2 and coming off an impressive victory over Rodolfo Barcellos at Bellator 216. De Jesus is also a natural middleweight but will be fighting at welterweight for this opportunity. Wells has respect for his opponent but believes de Jesus hasn’t fought anyone like him before.
“I’m really excited about this fight, I get to defend my belt on UFC Fight Pass, it’s going to be amazing, it’ll be amazing. My opponent, I think it’s a bad matchup for him because he’s going to meet something he’s never fought before. He’s going to want a way out and I’m going to give him a way out. Either way, if we go 25 minutes or we go one round, I’m going to give him that way out.”
If he gets this win, Wells will have a record of 7-1-1 and would’ve successfully defended his belt. His teammate at Renzo Gracie Philadelphia Sean Brady was recently signed to the UFC and Wells believes it’s a sign for him.
“That just tells me I’m next.”
CES 55 airs on UFC Fight Pass on March 29.