Brian Foster's world has been on a roller coaster for the past three years.
In November of 2010, he was coming off an impressive second-round submission victory over Matt Brown—current resurgent title contender—which was his second consecutive win after being tapped out by resilient veteran Chris Lytle at UFC 110. His victory over "The Immortal" provided the momentum he had been looking for to move up the 170-pound ranks, and when his next bout against Sean Pierson was lined up for UFC 129 in Toronto, everything appeared to be moving precisely to plan.
But that is where the story takes a jagged turn, and anyone familiar with the Oklahoma native's plight can certainly understand the frustration that came as the result of what happened.
A failed MRI for a brain hemorrhage knocked him out of the bout, and eventually led to Joe Silva releasing him from the organization. While there was no surgery necessary to repair what essentially was a broken blood vessel in his brain, he was too much of a liability for the company to keep around.
The 29-year-old took every precaution and the necessary steps to ensure his health was back on track, but with the door to the sport's biggest stage closed, he sought work elsewhere. Foster picked up two victories in smaller promotions before signing with Bellator in 2012. Yet, when he was slated to face David Rickels in the opening round of the promotion's Season 6 tournament, the athletic commission at the Mohegan Sun refused to medically clear him for the bout.
While this situation was undoubtedly unsettling for Foster, the scenario became more intense when the commission placed him on national suspension. This meant he couldn't fight anywhere in the United States until the issue was cleared up, and while steps needed to be taken, his inability to fight directly affected his ability to produce income.
As he set about getting the situation resolved, he continued to fight and took a series of unsanctioned bouts in Mexico. Foster emerged from south of the border with four victories in tact, which brought his running total to six since being released by the UFC.
Finally, in March of this year, he was cleared from national suspension and could return to fighting in the U.S. It was his goal to get back to the UFC, where he felt he belonged all along, but a setback against fellow former UFC veteran Daniel Roberts in his first fight back pushed that dream back a bit further. He would bounce back in his next outing by scoring a first-round knockout over James Woods under the Victory Fighting Championship banner, and that victory was a big step to putting things back on track.
On Friday, World Series of Fighting announced they had signed the heavy-handed welterweight to a four-fight deal, and while Foster is excited to be back fighting with a reputable promotion, he's far from satisfied.
"It's good to be signed to WSOF and I believe they have some good people running the show here," Foster told Bleacher Report. "They have a good collection of welterweights and I'm coming to bring some fire. They are a solid organization and have a good relationship with the UFC. I think I'm one of the best welterweights in the world and if I win a couple high-profile fights, I'll be in a position to get back to where I want to be. I'll be able to get back to where I believe I belong. But I have some work to do and I'm looking forward to doing it at WSOF.
"I'm coming in to mad dog some cats. I'm going to prove to everyone I haven't fallen off and I'm still a force to be reckoned with. Since I was released from the UFC, I've won seven fights and the only loss I had came against Daniel Roberts. He is a solid fighter and I wasn't entirely right for that fight. I'm going to be looking to beat up whoever I have to at WSOF and get them out of there as fast as I can. That's the way I fight, man. It's all or nothing all the time."
While the Ray Sefo-led organization is still in its relative infancy, the promotion has made solid strides by picking up some quality free agents. Their welterweight division is by far their deepest weight class, and Foster will be a solid addition to an already strong collective. By signing with WSOF, he now joins fellow former UFC veterans Jon Fitch, Josh Burkman and Rousimar Palhares in the 170-pound ranks.
While all those names look appealing and Foster is open to fights with all of them, he's also hoping Bellator champion Ben Askren decides to make the jump over to WSOF, who has an offer on the table for the Duke Roufus-trained fighter.
"I have a little bit of a chip on my shoulder," Foster said. "I've already beat their champion Steve Carl and their belt isn't my primary focus. I'm looking to beat up four quality guys and see where things go from there. I'll fight the best guys they have right off the bat—that's absolutely no concern for me. Give me your toughest guys and let's go. They signed Rousimar Palhares and they are trying to sign Ben Askren—put me in there with those guys right away and let's get after it. I'm prepared for all facets of the game.
"Askren is a one-trick pony and if he wants to get in there and try to lay on me then bring it on. I guarantee I'll give him the hardest three rounds he's ever fought. I guarantee it."
With his immediate future locked in with WSOF, Foster will find comfort in the stability of not having to bounce around for a paycheck. His most recent outing came as a kickboxer under the Glory banner, where he faced undefeated powerhouse Raymond Daniels in his debut. Foster suffered a first-round knockout via spinning heel kick, but even the defeat wasn't enough to break his spirit.
The man simply loves to fight, and it doesn't matter what form or fashion that ruckus comes in. He enjoys the challenge and is passionate about engaging in a battle of wills with whoever decides to step in with him.
"I want to have another kickboxing match," Foster said. "I'm not going out like that. I'm not a b***. I made a mistake and messed up. I fought the number one guy right off the bat, made a mistake and paid for it. But I'll fight anybody, man. I think I've at least gained that type of reputation. I'm not scared of any man. I'll fight whoever, whenever and however they want to do it. I'd box Floyd Mayweather this weekend if they wanted me to. I just love to fight and that feeling of getting in there and finding out who is the better man on that night.
"Fighting hasn't really been there for me financially for the past few years because of everything I've had to deal with. I have these boys I'm supporting and I'm coming to get a paycheck, but I'm also coming to reclaim my name and stature in this sport. I don't have very much time left to make a statement so I'm bringing it hard and mean, brother."
Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.