TJ Brown is a mixed martial artist who competes in the Featherweight division of the UFC. The Arkansas native is a product of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series and will be returning to the cage this summer.
TJ Brown: All right man so uh, so how has quarantine been for you uh and the family man? You know, i think it’s been uh, quite a change for everybody. You know for me as a as a father, it was tough. You know my kid couldn’t go to school and i’m no school teacher, you know so uh. It’S definitely been challenging man um. As far as being a father, but as far as training you know, i was lucky to to have a few select guys that we kept training getting training in um, so i’ve been able to stay on top of my training. You know um in and out of the gym and as far as work-wise man, it’s it’s really taking a toll on our gym. You know uh people are uh, it’s a tough time right now for our gym, and hopefully things are going to bounce back and our kids program and everything’s going to bounce back, but man it’s really challenging for like most of us, were you doing a lot of Cardio, what sorts of training like modifications where you’re doing throughout the throughout the entire thing? I know here in canada, uh halifax specifically where i’m at uh the gyms were closed, the entire time so um. I do a little jiu jitsu by no means in my mma fighters. Yeah, you know, taking some time off, doesn’t bother me as much but um yeah. So what sorts of uh things do they have in place there and uh? How did you modify your training around? It yeah so so it’s been different. We’Ve been doing some station training where everybody’s kind of got six feet or more in between each other during training doing individual drills. I like to do a lot of things outside anyway, so it gave me the opportunity to do some more training outside and again. I i had a few select guys that man we we kept our training intact. You know and uh we were kind of doing everything. To be honest, so i want to talk a little bit about uh. I guess kind of how you got into this sport um. I hear a lot of like here in canada. It’S not as big um. You know you hear most people who have done wrestling kind of make that transition in canada. We don’t really offer it. Many high schools and stuff like that, and – and you don’t necessarily have a wrestling background. So how did you get into mma um? If i, if i’m not mistaken, you have a boxing background too, don’t you right um, so growing up. I was always in sports. I played baseball football different things. I actually went to college to play. Uh d2 football and some things happened, got a little trouble and i lost lost. The scholarship wasn’t able to play uh for over that that next year you know, i spent a lot of time in trouble. I wasn’t putting my time in the right things and uh ended up um having uh getting it getting a lady pregnant had a kid on the way, so i was like man. I’Ve got really got to get my stuff together. You know this is enough pulling around. I have to i have to make something happen and i remember growing up. You know i’ve always been pretty athletic and i’ve gotten a few fights said man. I did pretty well and i was like man i’ll give this a try. Uh. I did a few uh amateur boxing matches, did some amateur boxing and found the west side mma, where i train and coach at now, and those guys really took me under their wing and man about six months of training. I started training and took my first fight and i won in 10 seconds with a knockout, and i was like man. This is this. Is this? Is it man i love this? You know i kind of got bit by the bug of mma and uh. Everything kind of took off from there man, it’s uh, it’s funny. When you hear guys from smaller towns, i mean bryce mitchell there from there as well. Very very passionate he’s like i’m not going anywhere, but you do hear about people who come up from these smaller camps, eventually making a transition to a bigger one. Is that something that you’ve considered, or are you loyal to to where you’re from given everything that they’ve done? For you? That’S a great question. Man. I’Ve had the opportunity, several opportunities to go to different camps. Uh i’ve been asked to come to different camps uh. For me, it’s it’s a it’s a couple things one. I am very loyal to to my coaches, uh matt rowley uh. They they, i didn’t, have a father growing up, so they’ve been more more than coaches to me, you know: they’ve been like a father figure and they’ve done a lot of things that that helped me not only as a fighter but as a man and uh. It is a bit of a loyalty, but also it’s my son. You know i raised my son by myself, so i have a great job here and a great foundation. My kid goes to a great school district here and it’s just he’s set up in a great place and – and i think it’s good for kids to have uh uh a bit of foundation and a bit of routine and – and you know, i’m just i’m in a Great place for not only myself but for my son and and i believe we have what it takes at our gym. You know i’ve got bryce and several other great training partners here and i i’m able to cross train and do things like that. So yeah i’m going to stay loyal to loyal man and i’m going to rack up some wins in ufc from this little small town in arkansas. So i want to talk about your last win. Obviously you had your debut in the ufc. It didn’t go your way but flashback to the contender series um, i thought at the time i was like okay they’re, going to give them some some young prospect. It almost felt like – maybe maybe it’s just me, but it almost felt like he was the one that was supposed to make it. You know he had a nice record six and one he was gon na come in there. He was gon na make a name for himself, you kind of derailed that hype and you did it via submission and, like you said, i mean you have a boxing background, so so kind of walk us through that submission and how did it feel to get that Win um in front of dana white yeah. You know that was a that was a great fight. It really showed that the type of fighter and man – i am you know it uh i deal with some controversy. You seen the first round. I was dropped in the first round uh. I got a point deducted, you know, and it just goes to show. You know how many levels i have you know uh. I am predominantly a striker. I i like to strike i like to let my hands go, but i can also take it to the mat and get finishes there, and you know i to be honest. I took him lightly. He only had seven. I think seven pro fights me with almost 20 at the time i i took him lightly and when he came out there and caught me man, i really had to wake up and i’m lucky to have my coaches in the corner. That help me adjust my game plan, take it to the ground and ultimately get the finish. So you know, i think it just shows a lot on my part of the heart that i have not only the talent i have, but the heart that i have to come back, no matter what what was it like, uh, you know seeing dana white and be Able to put on a performance like that in front of him man, it was great, you know uh. I remember there being a lot of pressure. You know i mean i remember, being a lot of pressure. You know my i was like man. This is my chance. You know, and he he’s the the boss is sitting right outside the cage. You know there’s a lot of pressure, but i remember right before i went out they were showing uh, you know they show on before the fight starts. They they show the little background on contender series of who the fighter is and show us a little bit about them, and i remember they were showing me and there’s a picture with me and my son and talking about my son and i was like man, you Know i’ve got to man up and get this done. You know i got to shake these nerves and and get the job done and that’s exactly what i did and uh you know that’s what this game’s about. You know you’re going to be nervous. It’S going to be in tight spots, but you got to remember why you started and get the job done. The contender series is back this summer. What advice would you give as someone who’s who’s kind of lived through it? Who has gotten a w who has went through that pressure? What advice would you give to uh to someone who’s going in there uh this summer, uh man just to to remember why he started man? You know use that hunger to to to remember why you started and, and yes this is a chance of a lifetime. There is pressure. This is very high stakes, but remember what got you there open up? Have some fun do what you do and and show them who you are, you know, don’t don’t get so caught up in the pressure that you don’t open up and be the fighter that got you there in the first place yeah i like that. I think that’s uh, i think that’s great. I think i mean i’ve spoken to a couple of guys on the contender series and a lot of them seem to be like okay, i’m trying to i have to get the finish. I have to put them away because there’s so much pressure uh, because it’s not just about getting the w. You know the w doesn’t secure you a spot in the ufc. So it’s it’s kind of good and i think it’s important for these fighters to just kind of don’t change your game plan. Don’T go in there swinging. If that’s not, who you are, i agree. The finish will come. You know the finish will come man just do what you do and the finish will come man. So i saw i saw a post on your instagram. I can’t help but ask i saw it says i got a call um. You can’t go into a whole lot of detail um, but what what’s? What’S the timeline for your return? If, if, if you can, if you can share that yeah uh, so i can say this is gon na be real, quick! It’S on a big card, real quick! That’S i can say that you know uh uh. We we, we can’t disclose everything right now, but just know i’m fixing a it’s going to be really soon on a big card uh. So as soon as i can i’ll get that information out, but man, luckily for me i’ve been training. I’Ve been ready. I’Ve been been waiting on a call, so i was able to take this short notice, fight and uh. I’M ready to get back in there and really show everybody how good i am. What sorts of lessons are you going to apply to this fight that you’ve learned from the jordan griffin fight man uh? So what i learned most from the george fight is, is to be who i am. I went in that fight uh, not really fighting my fights. You know i was, i was doing a lot of wrestling, a lot of grappling trying to take the guy down, but ultimately you know that that’s the the law sucked, but what bothered me the most is i wasn’t being me. I didn’t fight my fights. You know. I tried to fight a safer, more fight, you know to to get to win and what got me there is being the fighter. I am the guy that knocks people out the guy that goes out there and is explosive lets his hands go and opens up, and that’s what you’re gon na see in this next five of me is i’m gon na go in there and open up and do What got me here and and be the exciting fighter that i am and and i’m just ready to showcase, that for everybody i spoke with uh kyle nelson who’s, a fellow ufc uh featherweight, and he uh. He mentioned that he didn’t feel like he was a ufc fighter until he picked up a w in the organization. That’S right is that how you is that how you feel as well? Dude 100. I said this quote the other day i said uh. I didn’t make it this far just to make it this far. That’S exactly how i feel man like yeah, it’s just it’s not enough for me to be here and the dana walker sentencing was great. You know, but it’s just not enough for me, i i know what i’m worth and i’m ready to go out there and get it and and uh, and i feel the same way man. I i’ve got to get a w for me to really be happy and be able to sleep at night. The way i the way i should with that, with everything going on and sports starting back up. I i’ve asked a lot of fighters this question: what was your thoughts on the ufc kind of being like the early adopters being like you know what we’re gon na put on fights? I’M gon na get an island, i’m gon na do whatever it takes to get these uh these fights on. As someone within the organization does it make you proud uh to be working in an organization like that yeah for sure dana white’s, the go-getter everybody in the uni uh ufc organizations, they’re go getters man and uh yeah. I think it really it allowed it allowed them to show other organizations you can get it done. It is possible to still run organize organize sports. You know you just got to take some little extra precautions, but i think it’s great and and man. I think it’s great for the economy we have to. We have to keep going, you know. I know this is a big deal, but man we have to keep going as economy and not just let everything crash and i think it’s great and it set a good example for other sports and man. I’M. Luckily, i’m lucky that you know my career, my boss is still wanting to run the show, because i need money, you know so uh uh, i think it’s great was. Is there a part of you that uh that wishes that you might have a chance to go, compete on fight island or are you a homebody and like that? My goal for the rest this year is to get this win here soon, uh and jockey. My way they said they’re gon na do fight island again at the end of the year and get my goal is to win this next fight and jockey. My way on to this uh on the flight island that that would be a dream come true for me. I’M not a homebody i like to get you know i like to go man one of the things i love about this sport is it’s allowed me to to go to different places. I would have never been able to go without fighting. You know. I went to different countries different states just through fighting and and uh. I want to continue to do that and, and i see a lot of value and just being able to travel to fight in different places. The the one thing from a fan perspective that i noticed, and i don’t know what it’s like you’ve experienced it. What’S that empty arena feel like when you’re actually in the ring hearing, everything from the corners to the commentary to it must be like almost overwhelming, but it probably feels a little bit like a sparring session. Does it yeah um, so i kind of thrive off of the the crowd. I like that, you know, like i like being under the lights, but i will say from a coaching standpoint: you can hear your coaches way better, so i think that that’s that’s a definite probe that you can without the crowd. You can hear the coaches way better and uh, so there’s pros and cons to it. Do you think it’ll favor, you uh, come your next fight or do you think it may hinder you not being able to hear that crowd and not being able to get hyped up um i’ve heard both sides. Well, i will say this for me: uh, i can say this: it’s going to be in the apex, so i’ve already got a win in the apex and being in a place that i’ve i’ve already been i’m comfortable with. I think for me it’s going to help that i’ve already been in that environment. I’Ve already fought there and got a win there for me, those small things like that matter and i think it’s going to give me a lot of confidence going in there that i’ve already gotten a win in this in the same place. So i have to ask: well i built this sort of little platform i have based on making predictions on upcoming fights, there’s a big fight coming up, uh, probably the biggest heavyweight fight of all time, to really declare who the greatest of all time is arguably steep. Stipe versus dc: what’s your prediction for that fight: uh, i’m going dc because uh, if you look at the first round, uh dc was doing great uh in that last fight because he was mixing together his wrestling with his uh striking. Then, in that second, he tried to strike too much and that’s where stephen you know does does well. So i think if dc is uh mixes his wrestling and striking together it it’ll be an easy win. All right, i’ll ask a couple more questions. One mma related one non-mma related, so bryce mitchell, uh he’s been super vocal about camo shorts. Is that something that you’d wear too proudly? If you uh, if you had the opportunity or is it not your thing, bryce is my boy like man, you know. That’S my boy, i’m going down, you know i’m down for him he’s down for me, but you know there’s some things that we are different. I do like to hunt and fish, but man that man’s all in you know like he’s all in so i’m not so much the camo shorts, my boy, he likes them, that’s cool with him to each their own, but not me. What will it take uh to really kind of bring arkansas mma on the map? There’S you there’s there’s bryce, but what will it really take to really make arkansas an mma hub? I i think we’ve got to continue what we’re doing bryce is doing his job. Man, dude bryce’s streaming together, wins he’s really getting us out there. I need to get on my horse and stay on my horse and man uh, there’s some other up-and-comers coming along man. So just keep your eye eyes peeled. I think we just got to keep doing what we’re doing we’re knocking on the door right now. We just need to knock that boy. On the end, you know all right. Last question: non-mma related, i saw you were fishing, you were you told me, you were fishing yesterday. Is that what you do in your free time? What sorts of things you do? Keep your mind occupied, yeah man i do like to be in the outdoors. You know whether it’s it’s uh hunting fishing, uh swimming. You know the other day i was on the lake with my son on our jet ski you know. So i i just love yeah. I do love to fish man, it’s something that my whole family’s always doing. They actually had a bait shop back in the day. You know, so it’s just kind of a family deal that i’ve always done. It’S something that allows me and my son to spend some time together, all right man. Thank you so much. I appreciate you taking the time and whenever your fight is, it sounds like it’s soon uh best of luck and i’m rooting for you thanks man, i appreciate it have a great day. Yeah, you too, all the best