411's Jeffrey Harris sits down with Mike Brown for an exclusive interview before his fight at UFC Fight Night 26! See what he has to say about his fight with Steven Siler, coming back from his extended layoff, building his win streak back up and more!
This Saturday with UFC's debut event on UFC on Fox Sports 1, will see the long-awaited return of former WEC featherweight champion and current UFC featherweight fighter, Mike Thomas Brown (26-8, MMA; 2-3, UFC). Brown returns for the first time since a May 2012 win over Daniel Pineda at UFC 146. He faces fellow featherweight fighter, Steven Siler (22-10, MMA; 4-1, UFC), in the preliminary card which will also be broadcast on Fox Sports 1.
Brown recently had to take an extended layoff due to some injuries and health issues he had to take care of. He now returns with hopes of extending his current win streak to three and building himself back up after having a rough 2010 and 2011. In the WEC, Brown famously ended the title run for the popular Urijah Faber after knocking him out in the first round. The two went on to face each other again in a rematch which Brown also won. Recently, I got the chance to sit down and speak with Brown during his training camp for the fight last month.
Jeffrey Harris: You had a new opponent change on short notice. How has it been going from Akira Corassani to Steven Siler?
Mike Brown: It's slightly different but plenty of time to change sparring, game plans, and stuff like that. I think in the past, we were offered the fight before, so I had thought I would be fighting Siler in the past s well. It's a fight I thought would be coming some day.
Jeffrey Harris: Siler is only 26 years old, but he's 4-1 in the UFC and has a lot of fights under his belt. What do you think of what he's done so far?
Mike Brown: Well that's impressive man. That's probably his most impressive statistic, 4-1 in the UFC. That's a good record.
Jeffrey Harris: Have you watched any of his fights with Darren Elkins or Cole Miller to come up with a strategy for this fight?
Mike Brown: I just got the footage a few days ago. I started scouting, and yeah I have a game plan I think will work incredibly well. We'll see how it works…
Jeffrey Harris: Are you disappointed you aren't going to fight Akira Corassani?
Mike Brown: No, it didn't matter to me either way. It's all the same paycheck to me. It's nothing personal. Nothing too unique about either fight. They're both good opponents and both established. I don't think one name is really bigger than the other. I think they are similar caliber opponents.
Jeffrey Harris: This will be your first fight since May 2012, so we're talking about a one year-plus layoff from you. And it's not something we often saw from you throughout your fight career. People talk about ring rust a lot, so what do you think is going to happen when you get back in the cage for the first time in over a year?
Mike Brown: It is the longest I've ever had off since I first started fighting. I wasn't completely out of the gym. I'm always in the gym. I think that's – you're not in the gym and you're not training because if you took a year off and did whatever it's a totally different story. But if you're actively in the gym and sparring and training and improving than I don't ring rust really exists. I feel good, and I needed the time off to heal some injuries. I had neck surgery. I had to fix up my body. And now it's good to go. I got everything put back together and I feel great.
Jeffrey Harris: You came back to the UFC in 2011 after the WEC merger. You lost a couple fights. Now you've won your last two fights in the UFC against some tough guys who went on to win again in the UFC after you beat them. Did that do a lot in getting your confidence back after losing two fights very close together?
Mike Brown: The two fights, it was just a mistake on my part. I was unfortunate with some health issues. I lost one, a split decision, and I took another fight three weeks later just because I was upset I lost the first one and that just doubled my problems. So, looking back on it, it was a terrible mistake on my part. I lost two fights in three weeks. That was a big setback for me. I took some time off and got my head on start and got healthy again. I took my time and plugged away and won a couple and now here I am.
Jeffrey Harris: I was surprised you came back so quickly after the Diego Nunes fight to fight Rani Yahya. Did you know something was physically wrong at the time? Did you ignore it just to try and get that win?
Mike Brown: Yeah, I was feeling terrible. I was going through some health issues. I was having extreme fatigue and a bunch of other stuff. I was just so upset that I lost, when they called me -- I thought I was going to win the fight. So I was like, "Nope. I want it. I'll take it." I remember Sean Shelby for the fight because he told me, "It's between you and a couple guys. Will you take it?" I remember pretty much begging him to take it which was a huge mistake. And it just doubled my problems. And after that, I also tore a ligament in my hand. So after that fight, I had to have hand surgery. So it was really time to take some time off and fix myself up and get my act together.
Jeffrey Harris: When you came back and fought Nam Phan, did you think that if you lost that fight you could be out of the UFC and did you think if you lost, would that have been your last fight?
Mike Brown: Yeah, probably. Probably. I didn't want to stay in the game if I'm not having success. If I'm not winning, I don't want to be fighting. That's not a sport you want to be in to lose. I was happy that I got the win and got by it. I learned from it and I'm improving each fight. From the Nam Phan fight to the [Daniel] Pineda fight, I improved and I got better. And I felt better in the ring to keep that going.
Jeffrey Harris: You recently re-upped with the UFC for a five-fight deal, right?
Mike Brown: Yup, yup. Yeah, I haven't even touched it yet because it was just so long – I had neck surgery which kind of messed things up.
Jeffrey Harris: You're 37 and that's not a knock on you because you're still beating guys and you're in tremendous shape. But now that you are at that age and you have this extended deal, are you thinking about when you might want to stop doing this now and what you might doing be doing later?
Mike Brown: No, I've always been like the guy who is more into short-term goals. I've never really focused on long-term goals. For me it's short-term, take each fight one by one and see how I feel after each one. I'm not saying I'm going to do five more or more than that or less than that. I take each one and see how I feel after each one.
Jeffrey Harris: Since you're on this huge show, do you think about how you were the man that ended Urijah Faber's title reign, and then you went back beat him again, that people have forgotten about you? Do you have to change their minds to make them see you again?
Mike Brown: That's not where my mind is at. I'm taking them one at a time and trying to build a streak. I have two of them, and two is nice, but three is better. When you haven't fought in a year, it's difficult too to build yourself. People forget. People have very short-term memories. I understand. I've been out of action. I need to get back in there, and I need to look good is what I need. I don't want to have a fight where I barely get by. I'd like to win impressively. I'd like to look and feel good out there. That's the goal.
Jeffrey Harris: But do you think you should be ranked higher or recognized more for your great accomplishments?
Mike Brown: No. I had a great run, but I also fumbled the ball there. I had a terrible 2010. And I think 2010-2011; I had a couple bad years there. I think I got that past me, and I have to start building back up. If I can win a couple fights impressively, I can maybe get that shine back.
Jeffrey Harris: You are on the prelims for the card, but even the prelims for this event are still broadcast on Fox Sports 1. So they are all on the same channel. This is a huge card, and you are getting to be a part of almost like another new era of the UFC. What is it like to be a part of this?
Mike Brown: I don't think very much about that. I just think of it as another fight. Of course I'm glad it's going to be aired, but I don't really look too much into what channel it's on or what the numbers are for the channel and this and that or PPV. As long as its televised and my friends and my family and my fans have the opportunity to find it and watch it, that's all I'm happy about. As long as the people that want to see me fight are able to if they want to. That's what is most important.
Jeffrey Harris: Your friend and training partner, Brad Pickett, is also fighting in a huge, crucial fight on this card against Michael McDonald. Does it add pressure that both of you are fighting on this card, or does it make it more fun and easy for both of you?
Mike Brown: It's actually much easier for me. Whenever Brad fights, I'm always in better shape because I'm always training with him and he always stays with me through all his camps. So I'm in the gym doing every session he's doing while he's getting in shape for a fight. If he's fighting, then I'm going to be in shape too. So I might as well fight as well. He's here now, and we've worked out a lot together. We do a lot of drills. Of course we got to switch off a lot because our opponents aren't really encompassing each other, so we have to switch that up. We motivate each other, and we do a lot of conditioning together. It's good for me. It keeps me in better shape.
Jeffrey Harris: What do you think is Steven Siler's toughest attribute and what do you have to look out for on August 17?
Mike Brown: I think his best attribute is his experience. He has a lot of experience. He's been in the big show before. He's got height, that's another thing. He looks like he's got a strong guillotine, a strong submission game. He's a pretty well-rounded fighter. That's what his strengths are.
Jeffrey Harris: When I talked to you before, I remember how you told me how you basically had to fight for free. And now we are about to see UFC as the cornerstone of a new channel for Fox, so what is it like for you to see the sport grow in the way it has? I think the sport still has a ways, but what is it like for you to see it come along especially for lighter weight classes?
Mike Brown: It's really cool. The first time I ever saw early UFC's – the first one I ever saw live on PPV was UFC 4. And I knew some day that this was going to be the biggest sport in the world and this big, but it just happened a lot faster than I thought it would. I'm thankful that it happened so fast because I got lucky enough that I could make a living off doing it as opposed to it getting bigger when I was in my 50's. I was glad I was still a young man and still had some time to compete and actually make a living at what I love and what I would do for you.
Jeffrey Harris: And you got your own action figure and got to be in a video game.
Mike Brown: I know, right. That's all bonuses that I never in a million years dreamed of. When I first started fighting, there was nothing really for the little guys. Nothing – if you were the number one guy in the world you were making maybe a few thousand dollars a fight if you were lucky. So, I never thought that the sport would get that big where even the lightweight fighters were making good money and could support themselves.
Jeffrey Harris: Any sponsors or people you want to thank or give a shout out to?
Mike Brown: Yes, thanks to Booster Fight Gear and Top Secret Nutrition, they've been helping me out with my diet and supplements. And American Top Team as well.
Thanks to Mike Brown for taking time out of his training schedule to speak with us. You can get more on Mike at his official website Mike Thomas Brown.com and follow him on Twitter @mikebrownmma.