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Marcus Brimage just wants to drive his own damn car

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

In November, Marcus Brimage’s kick to knock out Jumabieke Tuerxun in Australia was loud enough -- and apt enough -- to have a boomerang effect. It reverberated back to the States where it hit Brimage himself in an idle moment of reflection.

"Man, it was surreal," he says. "It didn’t hit me until I got back home (boomerang) like the Thursday after. I was like, man, I knocked that dude out. People don’t know this but that was my first knockout ever. I’ve had TKOs, but that was my first knockout."

Brimage, who fights again this Saturday at UFC 182 against Cody Garbrandt, could have used the $50,000 performance bonus for the wreckage of Tuerxun. Problem was, he picked the wrong card to make a statement. That was UFC Fight Night 55 in Sydney, where all 11 fights ended in dramatic finishes, including the main event between Luke Rockhold and Michael Bisping.

Brimage, who kicked off the card (fully embracing the pun), was a casualty of too much remarkability. Which sucks for him, because for that camp and this one, he’s been splitting time living with his parents and his coach, Chris Connelly, in his native Alabama. Usually he trains at American Top Team in Florida, but for the holidays he’s a little strapped.

"I don’t have a car," he says. "This old guy hit me right prior to my last fight, so that’s why I did both camps in Alabama, because I don’t have a car. I got to live with my parents. It’s like being in high school all over again. Borrowing the car. So I’m doing my camp in Alabama. Everybody is keeping me grounded. I’m not a celebrity here. My momma say take out the trash, I go take out the trash.

"That’s why I’m going to have to call out Dana White and say, hey, you overlooked my last knockout. You owe me 50 Gs."

The silver lining is that Brimage came out of the Tuerxun fight unscathed, which allowed him to accept a quick-turnaround fight with Team Alpha Male’s upstart Garbrandt. As a bantamweight, Brimage isn’t taking the damage he was as a featherweight (and before then as a lightweight). And as a bantamweight, it’s possible for him to do other things that he hasn’t been able to do in the past.

Things like kick people’s heads.

"To be honest, I’ve always had the ability to do it," he says. "It’s just that at 155 and 145 everyone was so much taller than me, I was never able to throw my leg up that high to get them. I was fighting dudes who were like six-foot tall, 5-foot-10. Man, I am 5-foot-4 inches. Being a bantamweight, people are my height."

The good news is that Garbrandt is only 5-foot-7, the exact same height as Tuerxun. His head is just the right height for a sequel. And Brimage’s been on the Internet looking at that bobbing target in the lead-up to Saturday’s fight.

"[Garbrandt] puts everything out there on YouTube," he says. "I can tell he’s got a pretty dangerous right hand. He loves do the body clinch. He’s pretty good at wrestling from what I understand, and he fights out of Team Alpha Male, so I got to watch out for that Alpha Male guillotine."

Since competing on The Ultimate Fighter 14 as a featherweight, Brimage has made some important discoveries. He was able to win three fights out of the gate beginning in the finale against Stephen Bass, but that all led to a humbling encounter with Conor McGregor in April 2013, where he lasted only 67 seconds. Even 145 pounds was too big for him.

"Before I got to the Ultimate Fighter I didn’t understand much about weight-cutting," he says. "I walked around at 158, but if you drop a good deuce? Maybe 155. And then when I went to American Top Team, they said, all the 155ers get on the mat, and I saw Gleison Tibau. I took a step, and I saw him take a step, and I said, just what in the hell? That day I was like, I am a 45er."

Now he’s a 35er. His first fight as a banty came against Russell Doane at UFC 175, a tightly contested split decision loss that he thought he won.

"That motivated me a lot. Obviously, somebody don’t know how to do their job," he says, hinting at the threesome with the official scorecards. "But we’re not going to talk about that. It shouldn’t be left in the judge’s hands. It’s a huge factor because we’ve seen crazy decisions before, so that’s my whole motivation now. To wipe people out. Just to wipe people out."

That’s what he did to Tuerxun. He drew a big red X across the judge’s scorecards. And that’s what he says he wants to do against Garbrandt, too. Something spectacular enough that he can drive himself back to Florida.

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