Matt Brown hasn't had it easy. "Immortal" survived a heroin overdose only to later choose a career in professional mixed martial arts (MMA). That's not exactly the healthiest alternative, considering that MMA requires repeated blows to the head. In fact, the years of wear-and-tear finally culminated at UFC 201 three months ago, where Brown was finished by Jake Ellenberger via strikes in the first round.
"That was the first time in my entire life that I have been dropped by a head shot," Brown recently revealed on ‘The MMA Hour.’ "In sparring — at any time in my life — street fights, anything. I see people all the time coming back too soon and saying they shouldn’t have. Of course, you see the boxers, which has been well documented for years with concussions and brain injuries.
"I had a concussion last year for the first time in my life," he continued. "It’s no fun, it was serious. I wasn’t finishing sentences to my kids sometimes — I actually fell over, which is when my wife told me I had to go to the doctor. I literally got up and fell down. Things like that happen and you begin to realize like, man, this sport is real. This ain’t just fun and games and a paycheck anymore."
The concussion was not suffered at the hands (and feet) of "The Juggernaut." Nonetheless, the series of alarming events has forced Brown to change his diet, as well as his approach to training -- he does not spar as much. In addition, he now treats his brain like a muscle, exercising it with computer games and puzzles to stay mentally fresh. Perhaps the biggest revelation during the conversation was how Brown handled his most recent loss, which was his second straight and fourth in his five most recent appearances.
"I dealt with it really tough," Brown said. "I probably felt like Ronda Rousey -- I wanted to kill myself, which is after every loss, you know ... we're all the same. But, you know what? I have three kids and I had to come home and be a role model to them. I had to get up the next morning and make breakfast, and show them that no matter how many times you get taken down, you get your ass up and do it again."
Moments later in the interview, Brown clarified his comments.
"Well, my point I guess is that you really do feel like you want to kill yourself," he said. "You feel like that low of a person. You get beat up like that in front of millions of people, your friends and family. It's not right to feel that way -- and you shouldn't feel that way -- but you do feel that way. I'm fortunately mature enough to be able to handle those feelings and not act on them, but I guess it's more of an expression that you really do feel that low at that time."
Unfortunately, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) -- a degenerative brain disease directly associated with countless blows to the head -- is a very dangerous condition that has led to suicide. NFL legend Junior Seau and BMX pioneer Dave Mirra are among the many successful athletes who have suffered from the condition and taken there lives. The late Jordan Parsons, who competed under the Bellator MMA banner, was suffering from CTE-related symptoms before he was killed in a hit-and-run accident. And he was just 25 years young.
Brown did not reveal that he had CTE-related symptoms. His admission is just a cautionary tale to all MMA fighters. Consult a neurologist, don't listen to nonsense.