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December MMA Gym Feature: Nostos MMA

Nostos MMA owner and Head Coach, Devin Powell, is a four fight veteran of the UFC and 2 fight veteran of Bellator. He is 10-5-0 as a professional mixed martial artist and he was featured on UFC President, Dana White’s, reality show “Looking for a Fight”. With a resume like that, one could certainly let their ego get the best of them. However, anyone who has ever spent significant time with Powell will tell you the man is as down to earth as they come. I had the pleasure of spending a few hours with Devin and his stable of fighters while working on our latest NEMMA fight team feature. They were hours well spent.

Somersworth, NH is not the first place that comes to mind when thinking about “hotbeds” of mixed martial arts, but Powell has assembled an impressive team of scrappers in this quaint little New England town. On a street lined with coffee shops and tiny retail stores, these young men and women are scratching and clawing their way to the highest levels of regional, and in some cases, national level MMA. Powell is no stranger to the bright lights of major MMA promotions and he is confident Nostos MMA will be producing more UFC level talent in the very near future.

After taking over for previous gym owner, Bill Jones, in 2014, Powell rebranded the gym and doubled its square footage. While drawing inspiration from former WEC fighters like Carlos Condit, Dominick Cruz, and Demetrious Johnson, Powell embarked on his own MMA journey while simultaneously training other fighters. As mentioned, Powell enjoyed marked success as a professional mixed martial artist, but the coach in him felt “selfish” for taking time away from his students in order to prepare for his own contests. I found it remarkable to hear him speak so passionately about his love for coaching and helping his young fighters succeed. After watching Nostos MMA operate for a day, it became clear that attitude reflects leadership and Powell’s ability to lead by example has filtered down throughout his entire fight team. The man carries himself with humility. He has a calm, quiet demeanor and he chooses his words carefully. Underneath that demeanor however, there is a fire burning. It is a fire that fuels his coaching and the competitiveness of his team.

Powell stresses consistency in training for his fighters. If they want to fight, they need to be in the gym and putting the work in. His training sessions are organized and there is a purpose to every aspect of said training. Powell is demanding, but supportive while providing pointed instruction along with positive reinforcement. You can tell his fighters love and respect him. They want to make him proud.

The Nostos training facility is a multilevel operation that houses everything a mixed martial artist could ever need. While speaking with Powell about some of the differences between MMA now and back when he started fighting, this was one of his major observations. In the early stages of MMA, fighters were forced to train different disciplines in different locations. They would work on striking at one gym, travel to another facility for wrestling, and in many cases, another location for jiu jitsu. Thankfully, those days are over. Fighters are now able to focus more on training and less on getting from one workout to the next. With a gym full of established veterans, along with a plethora of up and coming future stars, Nostos MMA has become a one stop shop for all things MMA in New Hampshire.

Some of those future stars have been enjoying tremendous success on the regional scene in recent months. Brody McDougal (1-0-0), RJ Janeczek (2-0-0), Josh Smith (1-0-0), Kyle Pufahl (3-0-0), Kyle Hill (2-0-0), and Derek Lambert (1-0-0) all made their MMA debuts in 2021 and combined for a perfect record of 10-0-0. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that nine of those ten wins came via submission or knockout. Needless to say, Nostos fighters are not interested in putting on boring fights.

Starting off with a Bang!

During my visit with the team at Nostos, I had a chance to chat with a few of their fighters. One such fighter was Derek Lambert who had an impressive debut at NEF 45 when he scored a devastating first round knockout of Curtis Ouellette. Lambert is an intimidating individual when you see him in the cage. Even during training, he is an imposing figure. Outside of the cage is a different story.

Much like his coach, Lambert has a quiet and reserved way about him. The 29 year old Raymond, NH native travels to Nostos five days per week after finishing his day job as a pipe layer. He admits that working and training is a grind, but he wouldn’t trade it for anything. Like most fighters, Lambert counts his teammates as some of his best friends and extended family. Hard training is far more enjoyable when you are surrounded by people you love and Nostos MMA has most definitely created a family environment. On this particular day, one team member was clearly struggling to get through the final stages of sparring. Seeing Lambert and his fellow teammates push that young man while simultaneously encouraging and supporting him was something to behold.

Relentless on and off the Mat

I watched Aaron Lacey train for nearly two hours. At no point during those two hours did I ever see him breathe heavily, and believe me, it wasn’t because he was taking it easy. I have met many professional fighters, and never has a fighter’s nickname been more appropriate than that of Aaron “Relentless” Lacey.

A native of Bangor, Maine, Lacey recently relocated to New Hampshire and now lives in an apartment above Nostos MMA. He only travels home to Bangor on weekends in order to work and visit with family. He literally eats, sleeps, and breathes MMA. After being a self-proclaimed “punk” in high school, Lacey said he began training at age 17 and feels he is just now entering his fighting prime. He has compiled a professional record of 6-2-0 with his only losses coming at the hands of Bellator veterans Vovka Clay and Da’Mon Blackshear, but after suffering a knee injury in 2018 he has struggled to find willing opponents. His last 3 fights have all been cancelled, but Lacey remains hopeful he’ll find a dance partner in the very near future. He speaks with a steely eyed confidence of a young man who knows he’s destined for success.

Lacey began his training with Young's MMA and while he had nothing but good things to say about his time there, he sees Nostos MMA as a better fit. In addition to training at Nostos, Lacey has now become an assistant coach for the team as well. He pushes his teammates to the limit in training, but he is the first one to help them up, he refuses to let them quit, and it is clear he will do anything within his power to get the most out of them. The well-spoken young man was too humble to call out any one specific fighter, but it is obvious that he’s itching to fight. I have no doubt that whomever agrees to step into the cage with him next will be in for one hell of a fight. Aaron Lacey is indeed, relentless.

I want to thank Devin Powell, Carol Linn Powell, and everyone else at Nostos MMA for allowing me full access to their gym. The entire Nostos MMA community could not have been more welcoming and I look forward to visiting again in the future. Be on the look out for their fighters in 2022. They have big things planned for the new year!

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