WEC 48 is headlined by what many people are calling the most anticipated fight in the history of the featherweight division: Jose Aldo vs. Urijah Faber.
And that's just fine with former division champion Mike Brown.
Never one to bask in any glory or partake in much of the pre-fight hype, "MTB" is perfectly happy standing out of the limelight and approaching this fight without all the usual fanfare.
Just don't think for one second that he doesn't plan on reclaiming what was once his, the WEC featherweight belt.
First order of business is getting past Manny Gamburyan, a fighter who since coming over from the UFC has gone 2-0 -- and looked pretty good doing it.
Before he embarks on his journey back to the top of the featherweight mountain, Mike took some time to talk to MMAmania.com about his collection of fight memorabilia, staying as active in MMA as he can and what he needs to do against "Manvil" to earn another shot 145-pound gold.
Have a look:
James Kimball (MMAmania.com): Before we talk about your fight with Manny Gamburyan, I have to ask you about this video I saw of you giving a house tour to purefight.org. Have you heard from PETA yet for shooting your dog Little Gaga with potato pellets?
Mike Brown: [laughs]. She's alright. It was just soft pieces of potato. She's fine. It's all good.
James Kimball (MMAmania.com): You also showed off quite a collection of MMA memorabilia in that video. Do have a favorite piece?
Mike Brown: I gotta say the autographed Mark Coleman poster I just got. It's pretty funny. [Coleman autographed it to Brown with his now infamous quote directed at Tito Ortiz following his UFC 109 loss to Randy Couture]. Other than that, some of the old Pride FC posters I have are pretty cool.
Mike Brown: I do have one now. My girlfriend got me one. It's a pretty neat thing to own.
James Kimball (MMAmania.com): Alright, let's get a bit more serious here. This is going to be your third fight since November, a span of only five months. Is that by choice? And if so, do like that? Are you comfortable being that active?
Mike Brown: Yeah, absolutely. After I lost [to Aldo at WEC 44] I couldn't get back in the cage soon enough. I wanted to hurry up and get back in the win column. I can't stand having a loss on my record. It's disgusting.
James Kimball (MMAmania.com): Are you still getting in solid eight or so week camps despite having your recent fights so close together?
Mike Brown: Oh yeah. Eight weeks is what I like to do. Even then, I tend to over train. I usually peak at about four or five weeks and I have to slow it down a bit. Now I'm hitting my peak again. It's been a good camp. No injuries. I'm ready to roll.
James Kimball (MMAmania.com): This is going to be your second straight fight in Sacramento not fighting Urijah Faber. You were public enemy number one there for a while, but last time out it seemed as though the crowd warmed up to you some. Do you think you've won those fans over?
Mike Brown: Definitely. A lot of it is just them getting familiar with me. They were standing behind their guy Urijah, and I respect that. But I'm 3-0 in Sacramento. I'm big in that place [laughs].
James Kimball (MMAmania.com): I'm sure you've had to address this plenty of times, but let me get your opinion on the WEC on pay-per-view. Are you a fan of their decision to go this route, or would you rather be fighting in front of what would surely be more eyeballs on the WEC's regular home, Versus?
Mike Brown: This is what we need to do. It's where the money can be made and where we can generate bigger paychecks for the fighters. I'm no millionaire, that's for damn sure. I think this is the best thing for our future. We need it for our growth.
James Kimball (MMAmania.com): Is there any extra pressure for you being on the first WEC pay-per-view card?
Mike Brown: No. I'm just approaching it like any other fight. The way I look at it is the only fight that matters is the one right in front of you. Nothing in the future, and nothing in the past. Each fight is so important. It goes on your record forever. I'm always telling myself if I can just win this fight, I'll be fine. And it's the same thing with this fight.
James Kimball (MMAmania.com): There's been a lot of talk in the MMA community about the WEC's transformation to pay-per-view and whether they're risking brand confusion with some of the moves Zuffa has made. In particular, Dana White has stated the he will serve as the promoter for the fight, not WEC GM Reed Harris. Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan will be handling the play-by-play duties instead of Todd Harris and company, and Bruce Buffer will be announcing the fight card in place of Joe Martinez. What do you think of those changes? Are you surprised that they would make those moves if their intentions are to build the WEC brand?
Mike Brown: I think it'll be nice. I'm happy with it. For a while it looked like they didn't know exactly what they were going to do with the WEC. If they were going to keep building us up or if we were going to just kind of fold into the UFC. But it looks like they want to make this thing huge. They want to blow it up. And I think this is a good step in that direction.
James Kimball (MMAmania.com): Alright, let's get to your opponent Manny Gamburyan. He's pretty well known to fight fans having competed on The Ultimate Fighter and in the UFC. He recently came over to the WEC and has gone 2-0. He just beat Leonard Garcia, who is of course one of your many victims. But for those people who may not be too familiar with him, break down his game for a minute.
Mike Brown: He's tough man. He hits hard. He swings pretty wild, but he's got submissions. Good leg locks, good guillotines, good kimuras. That's his thing. And obviously he's a judo guy. It's an interesting match up of contrasting styles. It's always fun for people to see two different style fighters go at it.
James Kimball (MMAmania.com): To your point about Gamburyan being a judo guy, that's definitely his bread and butter. Have you worked a lot with judo specialists down at American Top Team (ATT) in preparation for this fight?
Mike Brown: Yeah, we've got some guys in the gym whose specialty is judo so I've been working real tightly with them.
James Kimball (MMAmania.com): Where do you see this fight taking place, on the ground or more on the feet? A better question might be where would you like to see this fight take place?
Mike Brown: I'm gonna try to keep it up and see if he can take me down. That's what I'm aiming for.
James Kimball (MMAmania.com): Other than judo, where do you think he holds any advantages over you, and vice versa?
Mike Brown: Well yeah, obviously judo is his game so he has the advantage there. But other than that, I'd like to think I have him beat everywhere else. I think I'm the more complete fighter and just a better fighter overall. But only time will tell if that's the case. I don't like to give predictions; we'll just see what happens when we get in there.
James Kimball (MMAmania.com): Do me a favor and break down the WEC 48 main event, Jose Aldo vs. Urijah Faber. You've been in the cage with both guys. You had great success against Faber, but not so much against Aldo. Who do you think takes that one?
Mike Brown: That's a tough one to call. Those are two world-class fighters. Look at the Frankie Edgar and B.J. Penn fight; it's very hard to predict winners these days. If I had to choose one I would say Aldo just because he beat me up and I beat up Urijah. But that doesn't necessarily mean anything.
James Kimball (MMAmania.com): Bear with me here for a second. Hypothetically speaking, assuming you get by Manny, which of course is no easy task, you're likely to be in line for a shot at getting your belt back. Would you rather fight one guy over the other, or is it just all about becoming champion once again?
Mike Brown: Well, I absolutely want my belt back, but I want to fight Aldo again, that's for sure. He's the guy that beat me and I want to avenge that. If Urijah beats Aldo, and let's say for the moment that I beat Urijah again and get my title back, people will still say, ‘well Aldo beat him, he isn't as good as Aldo,' you know? I don't have anything to prove with Urijah but I have a lot to prove with Jose Aldo.
James Kimball (MMAmania.com): That's all I have for you Mike. Thanks so much for your time and good luck at WEC 48. Any sponsors you'd like to shout out? Do you have a website where fans can get in touch with you?
Mike Brown: Thank you. Fans can check out my website at mikethomasbrown.com. And I always gotta thank my sponsors at TapouT, Champion Nutrition, Bushmaster Firearms, and of course my training partners and coaches over at American Top Team who got me to where I'm at today.