Matt Brown has been in the UFC since 2008. He has also fought at least once a year every year since 2005.
However, in 2018 that streak ended when Brown, unfortunately, was dealing with some injuries that kept him from competing inside the Octagon. He tore his ACL earlier this year when he was preparing for a fight against Carlos Condit.
“I was supposed to fight Kelvin Gastelum like three, four years ago and I had to pull out of that fight. I tore some ligaments in my ankle and for the past couple of years, I have been dealing with that,” Brown told BJPENN.com this week. “It got worse the last camp and I was pushing through it and just trying to get to the fight. I got a cortisone shot, just trying to get to the fight. I think it led to the ACL injury, it could have been a coincidence too. That is what it felt like to me. I have been dealing with it for at least three to four years.
“I also had ankle surgery. My ankle was messed up first, that is probably why my ACL tore. That’s why it has been taking so long,” Brown continued. “I am probably around 90 percent now. I have to get 100 percent to get into full training.”
While Brown has been away, the welterweight division has seen some big changes. Colby Covington and Kamaru Usman became title contenders, as did Darren Till. The UFC also acquired a new top contender in Ben Askren. Yet none of that concerns Brown.
“I am not even really thinking about. I’m just focusing on what I do and not really focused on the division on who is up there and who is doing what,” he said. “Just focusing on myself and being positive. I have a gym I am building so that is taking up a lot of my time. Not even really focusing on anything else.”
Brown has opened up a gym in Columbus, Ohio which serves as a gym for the everyday person. He has a couple of amateur fighters training under his roof too, but for now, it is a public martial arts gym.
While Brown would be open to fighting again, running this gym has taken up most of his time. Fighters often get an itch to compete, but Brown hasn’t really experienced that because he’s been so busy opening his gym.
“Yeah, 100 percent. It is harder than any other fight I have ever done,” Brown said of his gym. “It is keeping me on my toes, keeping the adrenaline going high all the time.”
Although the gym has kept Brown busy, rehabbing his injuries has also taken up a lot of his focus. The UFC veteran is almost completely healthy but isn’t sure if he will fight again.
“With this gym, we have been coming along so well, we have been building it so quickly,” Brown said. “I’m hoping with this gym I won’t have to fight. Hopefully, I can make a better decision because it is not based on want to, it is because I need to. I don’t really know anything else, so with this, I have something else. Ideally, that will be a long-term, sustainable financial thing and then I can make my own decision. Not based on emotion or not based on finances and actually make sure I have a desire to get back in there and fight.”
For many fighters, it is hard to walk away from the sport because they don’t know what they will do next. This gym could solve that dilemma for Brown. With its early success, he believes his retirement could come sooner than expected.
“It wouldn’t be the end of the world [if I didn’t fight again],” he said. “It certainly is tough, especially this last year going without fighting, and a really strange transition. It certainly wouldn’t be the end of the world. I am trying to be a step ahead of the normal athlete’s career, and we get towards the end and guys don’t know what to do. Or they are forced to quit. Whatever the different situation is, they end up retired or lost, or going broke. I know a lot of guys who get depressed, so I’m just trying to be one step ahead of that. That is the best I can do.”
Do you think we’ll ever see “The Immortal” Matt Brown fight again?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 12/19/2018.