We've all had bad days, but former WEC featherweight champion Mike Brown had an absolutely brutal three weeks.
After losing an extremely close split decision to top 10 featherweight Diego Nunes, he took an ill-advised fight on short notice against elite grappler Rani Yahya just 21 days later, losing another decision after being worn down over the course of three rounds.
On top of two straight losses in the UFC, he also suffered a broken hand that would require surgery. His career seemed teetering on the edge.
Now, a little over six months after the tough string of losses, the American Top Team product is 100%, revitalized and ready to take on The Ultimate Fighter season 12 alumni Nam Phan on the UFC 133 undercard which will be streamed for free on Facebook this Saturday night (August 6, 2011).
Brown explains how he's feeling physically after the jump:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've got a really important fight for your career coming up against Nam Phan on Saturday. After dealing with so many physical issues recently, how are you feeling now after taking over six months off to prepare for this fight?
Mike Brown: That's what I needed. I needed some time off. You know, regroup, recalibrate, change some things in my camp and heal up some injuries. After the last one I had a surgery on my hand so I took care of that, took some time off, got back to some strength and conditioning, got my size and strength back and I'm feeling good. I'm just ready to go and I'm glad the camp's over with.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Was there any mental things that you had to get over? I know it must have been an extremely toll to lose two fights in the span of three weeks even if they were to some extremely talented featherweights.
Mike Brown: Yeah, I was bummed to say the least. You've just got to push on. Every fight is equally important and they all go on your permanent record so this one is just like the last one and the one before that. They're all important and I've just got to put those behind me and just focus on the one in front of me. If I can perform like I'm supposed to and compete like I do when I train, I should smash him up and get that 'W.'
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You said you've changed a few things up in your training camp at ATT. Do you mind talking about any specific changes that you made?
Mike Brown: Yeah, I just started incorporating some strength and conditioning stuff that I wasn't doing for the last like, maybe three or four years I wasn't doing any of that. I was just sparring all the time. I was getting in good shape because I was always putting myself in live situations every day, a couple times a day, but that's a lot of wear and tear on your body. That's a lot of wear and tear on your joints when you're going live and getting hit every day but I liked it. It made me real calm, relaxed because you're so used to the situations but it takes such a toll on the body. It was working in the past and then when I hit a bad skid so you've got to try and make some changes. Some things aren't working and that's one of 'em.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Do you feel now, with two losses in a row and having lost three of four, do you feel like your back's against the wall with this fight?
Mike Brown: I don't think about that. In reality it probably is, but I don't care about that. I mean, every fight, I've never gone into a fight thinking, "oh, I can afford to lose this," you know? So, you feel like your back is always on the wall because if you lose, it'll always be on your record, it'll always be looked at and it never goes away. I've always put a lot of pressure on myself and each fight kinda stresses me out in that way so it's nothing new in that manner.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You mentioned that there were things that weren't working for you with your old training habits with all the sparring. What do you think was something that was a big problem when you were losing? Was it a physical thing? Do you really know?
Mike Brown: Yeah, I think I might have lost some of my power, my strength because I stopped lifting weights for so long and I just got away from that and I wasn't doing the conditioning, just sparring. I was getting in shape but it wasn't the same. I thought it was. I was winning so I wasn't gonna change it. I was thinking, "I'll keep doing this now and I'll keep winning and it's still working and I like it." When you're sparring, that's the fun part. Nobody wants to run or lift weights. Playing the game is the fun part. I enjoyed sparring and rolling and stuff like that but I had to make some changes because it was not working for me.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I know you've talked about overtraining issues and I'm sure you've broached this subject before but I remember you saying that you were having issues with your standing heart rate being an problem and even wanting to see a cardiologist. Did you actually do that? Did you ever find out what was wrong?
Mike Brown: The doctors that I talked to, all signs pointed to overtraining. I wish I knew what I was doing. Everything they looked at, all the symptoms, they said, "oh man, you were just, you're doing too much. You weren't resting." Sometimes you just don't want to believe it because you always think more is better, work harder and you get better results yada, yada, yada old style wrestling mentality but it's really not the case, especially as you get older. When you're 25, you might be able handle it, but when you're 35, your body really can't.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. How much time did you actually rest, just let your body relax, recover and rest before you started the most recent intense training camp for your fight?
Mike Brown: I took some time. I had hand surgery so I was out for a solid like 4-5 weeks after the surgery but I was still lifting weights a bit about three times a week. There's this little place called the Institute of Human Performance and they were strapping straps to my arms so I could still try to lift with a cast on but I wasn't wrestling or sparring on the regular like I always was before. You train hard and tear your muscles up a day and then you do a day of nothing, tear them up again and another day of nothing. You're getting that healing time in between your workouts which is pretty important.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): At 35 years old, what are your goals? Do you want to get that title again? What's really in your mind right now?
Mike Brown: Yeah, I'm going for it. I'd love to make another run at it. I know I can do it. Let's take it one at a time. I'm far from that right now, so one at a time. Just get this fight under my belt, hopefully I'll get a win and then I'll look at my future from there and we'll move on. Until this is over, I can't really do anything about the future.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You said you're feeling fine physically. How long do you see yourself fighting yet?
Mike Brown: We'll see. As long as my body holds up and I'm doing alright and winning, then I'll continue. If I continue to lose fight and I'm out, or I have another major injury where I've got to have six months off, then it might be time for me to go.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Understandable. Let's talk about your upcoming fight then. It's a really important fight for you. You're facing Nam Phan, a talented striker. He kind of got screwed against Leonard Garcia in his last fight. How do you feel you match up with Nam?
Mike Brown: It's gonna be a good fight. He's exciting, got good stand-up and had some pro boxing fights. He's solid on the ground and does have a black belt in jiu-jitsu. He's been fighting for a while so he's definitely a well-rounded MMA guy. I'm hoping I outpower him and outhustle him, put pressure on him, break him down and get the 'W.' That's my gameplan and it works more often than not so I'm hoping it's gonna work on the sixth.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You mentioned the loss in power. Do you feel your wrestling could be a big factor in this fight as well?
Mike Brown: Oh yeah, of course. Without a doubt I'm gonna have the wrestling edge in this fight.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): There was a lot of talk at 145 about who fight Jose Aldo for the title. Kenny Florian is gonna fight him now, but Mendes was gonna do it, maybe Hioki. If you could have played matchmaker, who did you feel was the most deserving of facing Aldo next?
Mike Brown: I think Mendes. He's undefeated and he's been in the weight class and worked his way up. I thought he was the guy in line. Florian came down and he won one fight and he got it. It'll probably sell more pay-per-views because he's got the bigger name. This is a business as well and Florian is a very good fighter. Not to say that he's not as capable as Mendes but I think that was probably why the decision was made. If you're going straight by who earned it or who's turn it is, I would say Mendes. I'm sure he'll be around and he'll get his shot.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): If you had a dream scenario, how would you like to finish the fight against Nam Phan?
Mike Brown: Well, dream scenario would be getting knockout, submission and fight of the night all at once but I don't know if that can happen. I'll take the money. Honestly, I don't care, all I need is the win. (laughs).
Mike would like you to check out his website, MikeBrownMMA.com. Also he'd like to thank his friends at American Top Team, his sponsors Bushmaster Firearms and Headrush.
So what do you think, Maniacs?
So at 35 years old, does Mike Brown still have another run in him? Or is it too little too late for the former world champ?
For the full audio of the interview including some extra discussion with Ben Thapa on Brown's history, click here.