Former Champ Mike Brown Begins Journey Back To The Top

Former WEC champion Mike Thomas Brown

Former champion Brown ready to start his road back to the top

This time last year, Mike Thomas Brown was the WEC featherweight champion, the top-rated 145-pound fighter in the world, busily preparing for the third defence of his title opposite Jose Aldo.

After being cut down by “The Brazilian Buzzsaw,” Brown bounced back with a quick submission win over Anthony Morrison, setting up a title eliminator bout with Manny Gamburyan. Favored to earn a rematch with Aldo, the former champion got caught with a big right hand that sent him crashing to the canvas and tumbling off the main card for the first time since he made his WEC debut.

“I’m a little bummed about it,” Brown admitted of his position on the preliminary portion of Friday night’s event in Broomfield, Colorado. “But I just need to win this fight. I don’t care – headliner, prelim, whatever; it’s an important fight for my career and I can’t afford to lose it. I just gotta win.”

Brown desperately wants to avoid the dreaded two-fight losing streak and recent history is on his side. The 35-year-old has not lost consecutive contests since dropping back-to-back fights to Genki Sudo and Joe Lauzon back in 2004. In addition to getting back in the win column, the American Top Team product will be looking to silence critics who questioned his work ethic heading into his fight with Gamburyan.

After his loss, UFC President Dana White commented about personal issues that may have hampered Brown’s training camp, speculating that a bad break-up had kept him out of the gym and contributed to his early demise. The former featherweight champ doesn’t see what all the commotion was about in the first place.

“I can see if you had personal problems going into a fight, you weren’t training properly and you gassed out early or something,” began Brown. “I just got hit with a big shot early. It had nothing to do with my training camp.

“I thought I had a good training camp; I was confident, I went in and I was ready to go. I just got hit with a big shot. I should have had my left hand up instead of having it down. That’s what cost me the fight.”

Sometimes it really is as simple as that. Each bout has a winner and a loser (for the most part), and last time was not Brown’s time. He aims to change that Friday when he meets Cole Province.

“You always feel terrible if your last fight is a loss,” stated Brown, who quickly rebounded from the Aldo loss with a first round submission win over Anthony Morrison less than two months later. “I can’t wait to get back in there and put it behind me. It bothers me every day. It will make me feel real good inside if I can have another win on my record and make [that loss] history.”

While this is unmistakably a big fight for Brown, the former champion knows this is also a pivotal fight for his opponent as well.

After entering the WEC as an unbeaten prospect, Province dropped his debut and had a split decision win in his second outing overturned due to a positive test for a banned substance. Following a suspension and a quick win outside the organization, the now 6-1 Delaware native is back looking to recapture the momentum he once had. Brown has no intentions of letting that happen.

“He’s a good wrestler; he obviously has some very high wrestling credentials,” started Brown in his assessment of his opponent, a three-time Division II national champion. “He’s gotta be a good athlete, for sure, to do what he’s done, but I’m a better mixed martial artist. I’m a more well-rounded fighter; I have better hands, better jiu jitsu and my wrestling for mixed martial arts is more than adequate.”

They say that life is cyclical, and this bout brings Brown back to where he started with the company a little over two years ago.

That night, Brown triumphed over savvy veteran Jeff Curran, kicking off a two-year run atop the division that saw him upset and then outpoint WEC poster boy Urijah Faber in their two meetings and stop Leonard Garcia in his own backyard.

Now, after losing his title and getting knocked out of main card consideration, the Saturday morning front desk clerk at American Top Team is set to begin his second trip up the featherweight ladder.

“I’ve had a long career. I’ve had some big wins and I’ve had some losses,” offered Brown, reflecting on the ups and downs of life as a professional fighter. “I’m more than secure with my abilities, I’ve done just fine and I’ll keep doing just fine.”

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