Luck is the result of hard work and sacrifice. It’s the time when preparation and opportunity meet.
So when doubters branded WEC Featherweight Champion Mike Brown a one hit wonder after his first round destruction of then division kingpin—and promotional Golden Boy—Urijah Faber in late 2008, he followed that performance by smashing number one contender, Leonard Garcia, nearly four months later and choking him out to retain his 145-pound belt.
It marked the ninth straight win for the American Top Team product and his twelfth in his 13 most recent performances. Brown hasn’t tasted defeat since 2005 and has just four blemishes in 25 appearances throughout his sparkling eight-year mixed martial arts career.
If that’s luck, then Mike Brown is perhaps the luckiest man in the sport.
Brown is not physically imposing at 5′6″ and 145 pounds. He’s quiet, unassuming, and simply goes about his business with a workmanlike attitude and approach.
There is no flash to his game. No verbal banter between him and his opponents prior to fights. No jumping on the cage in celebration after a victory. There is none of that.
And maybe that is the reason he is still relatively underrated and under appreciated by most mainstream fans and media…even though he now rightfully shows up in the Top 10 on various pound-for-pound lists.
He is the quintessential quiet superstar who currently sports a 21-4 record in his professional MMA career.
The next step for Brown in his quest to remain a dominant champion, and to continue to win over the fans and media alike, is a rematch with “The California Kid.” Brown graciously took time away from his hectic training schedule to answer a few questions about American Top Team, his critics, Faber and whether or not he’s open to a superfight with Miguel Torres.
Check it out:
Derek Bolender: How long have you been at American Top Team (ATT) and how did you end up there originally?
Mike Brown: I came in 2005. I was fighting down here in a local show called Absolute Fighting Championships in Florida. They brought me down to fight in that show. I met all the people there. I came down to visit once to train…and, man…I was sold. I made the move.
DB: There is always a constant debate going as to who runs the best training facility in MMA, whether it’s ATT or Xtreme Couture or Greg Jackson’s Camp. Why is ATT the best gym in the world?
MB: We have so many talented coaches and so many talented fighters. The depth we have is amazing. We have so many good guys in each weight. Especially is you’re a lighter guy. At 155 we have like ten to twelve world class fighters that have been ranked in the top ten in the world at one time in their career, if not top two or three.
DB: Now set the record straight for me, there’s a rumor going around that you’re the receptionist at the gym when you’re not training? Is that true?
MB: Yeah man. I answer the phones and I call people up and do all that jazz. I’ve been doing it for years. I’m still doing it. My schedule has gotten a little busy with the WEC and all but I still work on Saturdays. I cut myself back to one day a week.
DB: What’s the motivation behind that? You just like doing it?
MB: I like it man. I go in and I surf the internet. I answer the phones and talk about fighting all day. I could sit at home and do that and not get paid or I could go into the gym and do it and get paid.
DB: Has anybody ever figured out it’s you on the phone? What do they say to you?
MB: Oh yeah they laugh. They’ll be like, “Mike? It’s really Mike Brown?” Then you know, some people if they’re a fan they’ll get excited. It’s funny man.
DB: Now, moving forward. You fought Leonard Garcia in his home state of Texas and the rematch with Urijah Faber for your upcoming fight at WEC 41 will be on his home turf in Sacramento, California. Do you like being the guy to stroll in and get booed and try to spoil the party?
MB: To me it doesn’t matter where I fight. It’s all the same once you shut the cage. The only time it matters is if you have a real close decision. The judges might be swayed by the crowd cheering or booing. As long as it’s not tight like that then it doesn’t matter. A five round fight is plenty of time to pull away.
DB: We talked about your camp earlier. How’s your current training camp going and who are some of those trainers and fighters you referred to that are helping you get prepared for your upcoming fight?
MB: I got a boatload of guys I train with. As far as training partners go I train with Yves Edwards a lot. He just had to leave to go to Philadelphia. He’s filming a movie up there.
JZ (Gesias) Calvancante is getting ready right now for (Tatsuya) Kawajiri in K-1 so me and him have been sparring a lot. I just got one of my good friends Brad Pickett from England. He just flew in this weekend. He’s going to be here for six weeks. I got him right up until my fight.
My coaches, man I got a ton of coaches. I got Marcos Da Matta. He’s been helping me a lot with my jiu-jitsu. Of course (Ricardo) Liborio, Coach Howard Davis, Wally Muhammad…we got a staff man. It’s not really hard. You just show up and they tell you want to do. You can’t help but get better.
DB: Are you 100 percent healthy and how is your weight right now?
MB: I’m like in the high 60s and I’m 100 percent healthy.
DB: What do you have to say to your critics out there who think your first victory over Urijah was some sort of fluke?
MB: I mean, what do you say to that? I knocked him out in the first round. It wasn’t like I squeaked out a split decision that I shouldn’t have won.
DB: I know Urijah gave you props after the fight and he was all class but sometimes when guys get beat they like to say that they “got caught.” That phrase is used fairly often. Is there such a thing as “getting caught” or is that just nice way to save face?
MB: You can say that. I think you can say that if you were winning two of the rounds and you got caught in the third round. Maybe this is a five round fight and you won the first three or four rounds and then you got caught late in the fight. But if you just get beat up in the first round I don’t know how you say “I got caught.”
DB: Will you enter the octagon with a specific game plan to dissect Urijah or are you prepared to take what he gives you and go from there?
MB: I just go in there. He’s a good, well-rounded fighter so you can’t try to take him out of his strengths. He’s well-rounded. He doesn’t have a big hole in his game anywhere. You just got to go out and try to fight a smart fight and try to not make mistakes. He’s a world class guy.
DB: If you’re fortunate enough to beat Urijah again who’s left for you to fight in the featherweight division? Any names come to mind that you would potential like to fight in the future?
MB: I got a big one with Urijah. I don’t look past him. He’s one of the best in the world and it’s going to be a battle. Other big names up there…Jose Aldo. He’s probably next in line. I’d say probably the winner of Urijah and I, whoever wins, will probably fight Aldo.
DB: Miguel Torres has expressed some desire to possibly move up in weight. Is a potential super fight with him something that interests you?
MB: That’s a great fight. A lot of people would be interested in it. I would love that fight.
DB: What about moving back up to 155? Obviously you’d have to go to the UFC or another organization. Is that realistic to you to go back up for a new challenge?
MB: Yeah I could do that but I don’t want to shortcut anybody and say there are no 145’s worthy of a fight, because there are many world class guys. I just want to fight big fights. Whatever the fans would like to see is what I want to do. If it’s one of the monsters at 145 or one of the monsters at 155. I just want big fights.
DB: One of the benefits of going to the UFC would be the increase in compensation. With that being said, do you feel like fighters in the WEC, especially the top fighters, are underpaid?
MB: I would say yes, but it’s getting better all the time. Four or five years ago if you were 145 pounds you couldn’t even make a living but now you can. Every year it’s improving. It’s just taking time.
DB: I get the impression you’re the hard working, blue collar guy punching the time clock everyday and going about his business. Is that the mentality you have? If so, do you take pride in that?
MB: Yeah nothing came easy to me. I didn’t take any shortcuts. I’ve worked hard. I’m not young. I took the long road. I didn’t get a title shot after five or six fights. I’ve fought everywhere and I’ve had a lot of injuries.
I’ve worked hard for what I got and for years I had nothing. I’m proud. It’s worth it. The reward is much greater when you have to work as hard as I did to get there.
DB: Well Mike that’s all I had for you. Is there anything you would like to pass along to your fans out there or any sponsors you would like to thank?
MB: Yes. Thanks to Tapout, Champion Nutrition, Bushmasters Firearms, and American Top Team.
DB: Okay great. Thanks again. I appreciate the time. Hopefully we can run you down again before your next fight.
MB: Thank you very much.
Derek Bolender is a staff writer for InsideFights.com, as well as a syndicated writer to CBSSports. Look for future articles from him on InsideFights.com.