MMA

From a cocaine-fuelled MMA debut to UFC stardom: Matt Brown opens up on his career

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Matt Brown opened up about his winding journey from a lawless teenager to a fighting veteran in the aftermath after facing off against Carlos Condit in an iconic battle last month.  

The UFC star, 40, praised the wrestling skillset of ‘The Natural Born Killer’ but criticised the judges’ ‘foolish’ scorecards in his defeat, as he discussed retirement in the future. 

In an illuminating interview with MailOnline, he also admitted he had ‘no respect for life’ before conquering drug addiction and a heroin overdose to become ‘The Immortal’ warrior of MMA. 

Matt Brown reflected on his fighting journey after colliding against Carlos Condit on Saturday

The UFC veteran, 40, praised his opponent while calling out the judges' 'foolish' scorecards

The UFC veteran, 40, praised his opponent while calling out the judges’ ‘foolish’ scorecards

‘I respect him as an opponent,’ Brown said of Condit, 36. ‘I’ve always been a huge fan of him, even before I was in the UFC I loved watching him, but he’s still just a man with two arms and legs who bleeds the same as me.’ 

The co-headliner bout at UFC Fight Island 7 was years in the making, after being cancelled twice as Brown – who has amassed a 22-18 record – was hindered by injuries. 

After three rounds of captivating action, the judges crowned Condit the winner as they gave a 30-27 verdict. Following the clash, Brown took to Twitter to vent his frustrations over the ‘ridiculous’ scoring which favoured his opponent in every round. 

He conceded that he still felt Condit won, but he was nevertheless dissatisfied with the final score. 

He also opened up about his heroin overdose and how he traded drug addiction for fighting

He also opened up about his heroin overdose and how he traded drug addiction for fighting

The 40-year-old said: ‘Ultimately the final score doesn’t really matter, I do think he won the fight but by a very, very close margin. But I was a little ticked off that they didn’t give me a single round, there’s no possible way. These judges are just fools sometimes. 

‘In the first round of my fight, he threw a lot of little strikes from the bottom and I was giving minimal from top [position], but I was the one controlling [the action], I was grinding my head into his, wearing him down. I guarantee Condit knows I won that first round. 

‘Maybe they thought he delivered more damage because of the blood, but that was from the fence, I didn’t get any damage at all in the first round.’   

Reflecting on how his game-plan against Condit has evolved since their first anticipated fight in 2013, he said: ‘If I would have fought him those other times, we would have just stood and swung for the fences, trying to knock each other out. 

‘This time I had a better strategy, I worked him a ton and I was able to grapple a lot in there, I think it was a very different fight. 

Brown co-headlined the UFC Fight Island 7 bout but lost with a 30-27 tally on all score cards

Brown co-headlined the UFC Fight Island 7 bout but lost with a 30-27 tally on all score cards

‘I’ve always been a guy to try and knock people out, but as I’ve gotten older I try to save my brain cells and utilise my wrestling.’

The welterweight added: ‘A hair more and I would have won the fight, but he’s a high-level guy. He’s a tough opponent to deal with, but I don’t think many [fighters] have controlled him the way I did.’ 

MMA commentator Dan Hardy, who previously fought Condit in 2010, noted the welterweight’s dangerous fighting style and awkward timing during the bout. 

When asked how it felt first-hand, Brown responded: ‘Yes it was a little bit different, but it wasn’t anything that I couldn’t deal with, the only thing that surprised me was his wrestling. He was a little better then I thought he would be. 

‘He did a very tricky, wild takedown that you don’t see very often. It’s a good takedown and I do it, but I’ve never seen anyone else do it. 

‘I was joking afterwards with my coaches as they asked me, “is he watching our camp? Because you’re the only one who does that”‘.

The welterweight admitted he is a 'huge fan' of Condit but said he only won by a 'close margin'

The welterweight admitted he is a ‘huge fan’ of Condit but said he only won by a ‘close margin’

Brown made his UFC debut on The Ultimate Fighter in 2008 and he currently trains at his own gym, the Immortal Martial Arts Center, in Ohio. 

However, he got his first taste for the blood sport during a cocaine-fuelled blowout at 22-years-old, when he entered a local competition. 

‘My friend invited me to a local fight,’ Brown revealed. ‘This was before there were commissions or regulation, it was like a movie scene, there was gambling, people smoking cigars. 

‘Then they made an announcement saying, “here’s the champion, his opponent didn’t show up so if anyone wants to fight?” I was actually on coke that night and I thought “I’ll go fight this motherf****r.”‘

Despite having no professional training at the time, the UFC athlete took home the victory and continued to compete in impromptu bouts before first entering an MMA gym at 23-years old.

Brown (second left) first fought at the age of 22 in a local competition when he was on cocaine

Brown (second left) first fought at the age of 22 in a local competition when he was on cocaine 

Brown came from humble beginnings as he grew up in a town of approximately 200 people in Ohio, a stark contrast to the metropolitan cities he would later fight in.

He confirmed he used various drugs including meth, cocaine and alcohol after feeling like an outsider in the community. 

The welterweight recalled: ‘I felt very lost and alone in that town. I always believed I was destined for great things, and I knew I had it in me somewhere but I couldn’t find it. 

‘And then in high school I became very disenfranchised with the whole community, I felt like, “f*ck all you guys.” I wasn’t necessarily rebelling against my family but rather the entire culture. 

‘I think I was depressed and sad, I’d never seen a high-rise building or been to a city until I was 21, so I felt like, “f*ck it, I’m at least going to have fun.”‘ 

He used various drugs to rebel against the rural and conservative community he grew up in

He used various drugs to rebel against the rural and conservative community he grew up in

Brown experienced a heroin overdose during his addiction, and was clinically dead for over a minute which led to the nickname, ‘The Immortal.’ 

He admitted his competitive nature contributed to the overdose, as he said: ‘I was never addicted to heroin but that was a symptom of how far I’d gone. 

‘There wasn’t anything I wouldn’t do back then, you couldn’t put a bottle of pills in front of me that I wouldn’t take, you couldn’t put a needle in front of me that I wouldn’t shoot, I would just do anything, I wouldn’t care. I had no respect for my life.’

‘I do have obsessive tendencies, when I was drinking and partying I was competitive about it, I wanted to be the “hardcore son of a b***h” and so now I’ve channelled that energy into prize fighting.’

According to Brown, his family looked unfavourably on his fighting career before realising it was having a positive impact on his life.       

‘I never really started changing until martial arts,’ the welterweight said. ‘I always wanted to do it as a kid but my parents were always against it, but the day I found it I never looked back, it was love at first sight. I found solace in the sport.

‘They weren’t into fighting for the longest time. I come from a really rural, conservative community where you’re expected to follow in your dad’s footsteps or become a farmer.  

He left his old life behind when he entered an MMA gym at 23 and found 'solace' in fighting

He left his old life behind when he entered an MMA gym at 23 and found ‘solace’ in fighting 

‘When I first started fighting, they were happy that I was doing something that was keeping me away from partying but it was a fringe sport so they thought I still needed to do “something” with my life.’

He added: ‘But after seeing me on The Ultimate Fighter and on TV, they saw the development of me as a sportsman and as a person.’

Now, the father-of-three hopes to create a positive impact on the younger generation by teaching them discipline and resilience through a children’s MMA training academy. 

The UFC veteran also confirmed he is willing to die in the Octagon, but will retire when it’s right for his children. 

‘For me I’ll gladly die in the UFC Octagon,’ he said. ‘I’m happy to commit myself to that, but I have three kids now so when I decide to retire, it will be when it’s right for them, not me. 

‘I do think about it a lot, because I miss them all the time, this is a very involved sport.’

‘Outside of MMA, I currently have Immortal Coffee, the gym… I’m also working on a children’s gym as I want to help kids overcome failure and learn to deal with bullies in an appropriate way.’

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