Jason Brilz doesn’t like wasting time.
The father of two manages a full-time position at his local fire department, a coaching job with the Nebraska wrestling team and his own career in mixed martial arts. His last fight against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira helped Brilz make his mark in the Octagon, and he’s looking to capitalize against Vladimir Matyushenko at UFC 129.
It’s a fight Brilz is looking forward to.
“I really don’t have any idea how our styles are going to match up and I’m excited to find out. I think we could end up in the clinch with both of us looking for the take down, or it’s going to end up being a stand-up war where neither one of us wants to test our wrestling. I’m not sure what is going to happen and that is what makes it fun for me.”
“I do know that I’m going right at him. That’s been my style from day one and that’s his style too, so I don’t see him shying away from me at all. Fans are going to see two old guys going at it in the middle of the cage. I’ve been working on my speed and I’m going to bring the fight right to him. I’m not going to dilly-dally around and you’re not going to see many counter-strikes from me because I’m coming forward and throwing. I’m not going to deviate from my plan of trying to get him down either. We are going to be clashing in the middle and it’s going to be a fierce 15 minutes or less. Hopefully less, but I’m ready for whatever.”
The two fighters were originally slated to meet at UFC 122 before an injury forced Brilz to withdraw. A few failed fight bookings later, Brilz finds himself back in the cage with his original opponent.
“It is kind of crazy. I was originally supposed to fight Phil Davis and I thought that was great because I was going to face a wrestler and one that was better than me on paper and who has more accolades in wrestling than I ever did. I was excited because I knew Phil Davis was going to be a tough fight. Then he got pulled from the card and I get matched up with Matyushenko again which I think is pretty cool. He’s a heck of a wrestler and just a really nice guy. I’ve talked to him and his management team a few times and they are nice guys so I’m excited. I think it’s going to be a heck of a fight and I know he’s training hard for it. It’s weird how everything works out but most things usually do work out in the end if you let them.”
“I’m really looking forward to fighting in Toronto. When I fought at Mandalay Bay it felt like the crowd was right on top of you. I’m not even sure how many people were there, maybe 18,000, but it felt as if they were right there so I can’t even imagine what 55,000 is going to be like. I was telling Ryan Jensen, who is fighting Jason MacDonald, that he had it worse than I did because at least I’m not fighting a Canadian on the card. I fought Jason years ago up in Edmonton and that was the first time I’ve ever walked out and been hammered with boos. It was incredible and I had never experienced anything like that before. So at least I’m not fighting a Canadian in front of 55,000 people. I feel bad for Jake Shields.”
A victory over a savvy veteran like Matyushenko will help raise Brilz’s stock in the division. But when it comes to how far he’ll go in the sport, Brilz remains grounded.
“I’m interested to see how far I can go, but at the same time I know my body and what it can take. When people say they are a full time fighter and say they can’t work and train at the same time? I don’t buy it. There are some guys who fight but also coach or do private training on the side. That’s a full time job. I don’t do any of those side things, so while I fight and train I have a career elsewhere. Some guys talk about how they can’t work when they are leading up to a fight, but you can only be in the gym so many hours a day.”
“I could sit in the gym 8-10 hours a day but that doesn’t mean I’m actually training for 8-10 hours. I am at the gym and training by 11:00 and go until 12:30 which is a solid hour and a half. In that time you can get a great workout if you are going hard and not jacking around. After practice we sit around and talk for a little bit, and I’m home by 1:00 pm. That’s two hours. I’ll get another session in at the gym in the evening, which will be another two hours. Four hours of my life are dedicated to training. I have a life outside of all of this, but I still find time to fit a job into my schedule and do my work in the gym.”
While Brilz agreed his system wouldn’t work for everyone, “on the go” fits him perfectly.
“It keeps me busy. I’m not one to sit around and play video games. Some people can’t do that. They need more rest or need less distraction when they are training and I can completely understand that. I like to keep busy. It works for me.”
Brilz is passionate about mixed martial arts, but the realism that touches everything in his life extends into his fighting career.
“The way I look at it is fighting is a full time commitment and if you are young enough you can make it your career, but it’s too unpredictable when you have a family. I’m married, have two little girls and I need a steady income. Yeah, there is money to be made in fighting, but if you get injured, you’re not getting paid. If you have an off night, your salary gets cut in half. You don’t get your win bonus and things like that make a big difference.
“If I were single, in my early 20’s then it wouldn’t be a big deal but I’m 35. I need a career and I need something that will take care of my family when I’m no longer fighting.”