Brian Campbell has had a number of close brushes in his personal life and it has only served as fuel for self-belief.
Campbell appeared as the sophomore guest on the MMA Mania and Bloody Elbow joint-interview series, The Insiders (video above). The Showtime and CBS personality spoke candidly about the turbulent birth of his twin boys, who were born 18 weeks premature — on the cusp of viability.
“I’m blessed with two sons who are 12-years-old now, but they were both born less than two-pounds, 4.5 months premature. Each had six major surgeries in a year. Both are going to die, said doctors,” Campbell shared. “Both had miraculous surgical recoveries. I’ve seen enough. I’ve seen too much. I know whose team I’m on. I know who is backing me in this race. It’s fine, it’s great. It’s the foundation of who I am.”
There was one moment in Campbell’s 20s that imbued him with a strong faith.
“It was a rock bottom turn in my mid-20s where I couldn’t get away from a rockstar lifestyle. A life and a career going nowhere in a crappy apartment at the end of a broken relationship. It’s either gonna end soon or something’s going to happen,” he explained. “In my hour of despair I leaned back on all those years of Sunday School and I was just like, ‘Okay, if this is real, happen now, cause it’s not going to get any better now. It’s only going to get worse. Right now, this is turning point. If you’re real, be real in this moment. I could write a book or write a movie script on what actually happened next. The physical transformation in the moment. The voice I heard, as audible next to me saying ‘it’s over. It’s all over.’ This was in a car outside of a concert in a parking lot. You can imagine what’s going on in that car.”
Campbell did not have a firm understanding about mental health at the time. These days, the Morning Kombat and State of Combat host continues to trace paths from his youth.
“I’m a very self-reflective person. I’m very honest and harsh on myself. You look at someone like Mike Tyson who we think of as this psychopath, yet you hear an interview with him and it’s like he’s able to tell you exactly what was wrong with him in the moment. I guess I’m somewhat like that. I knew the excess of life that was dragging me down, but I knew in those moments I was powerless to stop it. I watched my life sort of crumble,” Campbell explained. “It was a time where we didn’t understand mental health and I think just recently I’m understanding a lot of my life and why things went the way they did and the connection between anxiety and depression.”
Campbell’s on-camera presentation is beaming with life and the sort of fandom that audiences can relate to. That passion comes from a very real place.
“I didn’t have this vision for where my career is now, even three or four years ago. I’m just happy to be there a lot of times. I was sort of condemned to myself as a career underachiever who found a good path to get out of that and was doing pretty good in life. I never realized all this stuff was possible,” he exclaimed. “All this stuff within me was possible. There were many turns where my faith kicked in and God made sure that I kept going. Look at me now. It’s an incredible journey and I’m blessed. Believe that.”
Timestamps are below for the video above:
2:05 - Relationship with Luke Thomas
5:55 - Comedy and Cancel Culture
9:42 - Leaving ESPN
13:27 - Pros & Cons of ESPN in MMA
18:32 - UFC vs. MMA Media
21:25 - What is MMA Media Lacking
25:36 - Why Fans Blame Media
29:45 - Brian Campbell & Religion
35:42 - UFC vs. WWE vs. Boxers
39:32 - Brian Campbell’s Comprehensive Guide to Cutting Hair in Quarantine