It’s been a strange year for Connecticut-based Bellator fighter Brennan Ward. In April, fighting in front of a partisan crowd at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville very close to his hometown of New London, Ward lasted just 30 seconds before getting submitted via a heel hook against a sizable underdog, Evangelista Santos. That snapped a four-fight win streak.
In July, the 28-year-old Ward had a drunken run in with Waterford police during a domestic incident, whom he fought off and threatened to destroy, before resisting arrest and interfering with a police officer.
Then on Monday, Oct. 24, at about 7 p.m. ET, just 11 days before his fight with Saad Awad at Bellator 163, Ward was at a service station when something jarring caught his eye.
"I was just pumping gas and a baby stroller had blown out into the street, and cars were driving and swerving past it and I just ran out and saw that there was a baby in it," he told MMA Fighting. "So I grabbed it and wheeled it over to the fire station down the road. It was already in traffic, and that’s a very busy intersection."
The highly-trafficked road he saw the unmanned stroller roll out on was Bank Street, not far from the New London firehouse. Seeing the stroller blow out in traffic naturally sent up alarm bells, and he ran out not only to remove the hazard from the road, but to more importantly make sure there wasn’t an occupant in it.
"I saw it, and I had to look," he says. "I ran out there like there might be a baby in it, but not expecting there to actually be one."
It turned out there was. A little girl that the local news later said was around two or three years old, who was sleeping peacefully as the commotion took place. Seeing the girl, Ward grabbed the stroller and got it out of harm’s way. Not seeing a parent around, he pushed it to the nearby firehouse. At the time, he wasn’t sure if the baby was sleeping, or if it was something worse.
"She wasn’t moving," he says. "I was hoping it was sleeping."
Ward said that the firemen on duty were taken by surprise when he came in pushing an abandoned toddler in a carriage, asking for assistance.
"They didn’t really know what to do," he says. "I wasn’t panicked, but I was kind of yelling when I got in there. Of course they don’t expect somebody to come wheeling in there saying they found a baby, either. Everyone was just kind of shocked."
The baby was indeed sleeping, it was discovered, and she was transported to the hospital where she checked out in good health. Her father, 25-year-old Matthew Simpson, was later apprehended in an intoxicated state, sleeping in the men’s room at the train station.
Had Ward not acted as quickly as he did, the story might have turned tragic. As it stood, he right place at the right time to rescue a baby at a convenience station on a random Monday night. On Friday, he downplayed the good Samaritan talk, and strayed away from the word "hero."
"I didn’t really think it was that big of a deal," he said. "I was doing what you should do. I was just doing the right thing. I was just doing what I feel like anybody else would do."
When asked if the incident —and the attention he received in the aftermath — would have any bearing on his fight with Awad, Ward said simply, "hell no."
Ward fights Awad on the main card at the Mohegan Sun on Nov. 4 at Bellator 163, which features a light heavyweight title fight in the main event between Liam McGeary and Phil Davis.