It’s tough to think about retirement when you’re offered an opponent like Carlos Condit.
Last fall, veteran Matt Brown had declared his fight with Diego Sanchez to be his retirement bout. But when fight week rolled around, he opened the door to returning a crack, and kept it that way after he scored a spectacular first-round knockout at UFC Norfolk on Nov. 11.
So when UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby gave Brown a holler recently and offered him a potential fight against former WEC and UFC interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit, well, that was exactly the sort of fight which fired up Brown’s imagination.
“Carlos is the type of guy you’re going to get up for every time, right?” Brown said on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “There’s no reason not to come back and fight Carlos. I’m at peace, comfortable, feeling good with my life and where things are at. I don’t have to come back, but, you get a call to fight Carlos Condit, a former champion and just an all-around warrior and one of the legends of the game all the way back to the WEC days and you sign the contract every time. There’s no way I’m turning that down.”
After the Sanchez victory, Brown told Shelby to call him if anything interesting came up. And while a potential rematch with Donald Cerrone was a little too quick of a turnaround, the Condit fight was offered next, which will go down at UFC Glendale on April 14.
“I told Sean, I said look, I don’t want my contract suspended, I want to stay in the USADA pool,” Brown said. “Send me names any time something comes up. If something sparks my interest, then I’m right back in it. He actually sent me a Cowboy [Cerrone] fight first, a rematch. It ended up being what Yancy Medeiros ended up getting, but it ended up being too short of notice, I wouldn’t have been able to make the weight that quickly, because I had basically retired for the holidays and put on a significant amount weight. But then I got back into shape and they gave me the call on Carlos and I said yeah, as long as the dates work out, let’s do it.”
Brown admits that when he first aired his retirement thoughts last year, he wasn’t in the best place mentally.
“In September, I was not feeling that,” Brown said. “I felt it all taking its toll on me. And I just didn’t have enough left in the tank to really, I didn’t enough left to compete at the top level and that’s really, if I can’t compete with guys like the Condits or the top 10 guys, then I should hang ‘em up. there’s no reason to be fighting just to be fighting, just to be making a paycheck to paycheck type fights and just being in there, just beating guys up and taking beatings, whatever. That’s not really what its about to me.”
Instead, Brown has found a happy medium between the linear pursuit of a championship and fighting just for a paycheck. It’s not so much about the wins and losses as it is the type of challenges he seeks going forward. and the spirit with which he pursues his goals in the cage and out.
“It’s really not about the wins and the losses,” Brown said. “It’s about the daily grind and the toll that its taken on my family and different things like that. It doesn’t really have to do with the wins and losses. That’s sort of, in my perspective, a American/Western thing. I think more about Asian/Eastern cultures where it’s not really about wins and losses, its really just over here in America you win and you should just do this forever and you’re so awesome and you’re great, and you lose and you’re just nobody, and you’re only as good as your last fight. Things like that where I try to keep my mind more on the Bushido-type mentality and I’m doing this for other reasons than just wins and losses.”
And in Condit, Brown has found exactly the sort of challenge which piques his interest. It’s not just Condit’s propensity to fight with an exciting style, although that helps. But in Brown realizes that he’s fought his share of bouts against opponents who have either held championships, or challenged for titles, and he’s lost most of them, from Robbie Lawler to Johny Hendricks to Cerrone to Demian Maia.
His only win against such an opponent was a decision over former two-time welterweight title challenger Stephen Thompson in 2012 as part of a seven-fight win streak. But a win over Condit would give Brown the elusive win over someone who has held a UFC/WEC title.
“One thing that properly motivates me, is from the from outside, wanting to be a champion, I’ve always wanted to be a champion,” Brown said. “And Carlos is a former champion. And I don’t know for sure if he is really where he was mentally or physically as he was when he did have the championship, but so far, everyone has either been or a champion or fought for the championship other than Wonderdoy I’ve lost to. I want to me beat someone who was actually champion in the past. You know, [Johny] Henrdicks and [Robbie] Lawler, both of those guys I lost to ... that’s just a mental thing, and of course a fight with Condit, he’s a legend and an exciting fight no matter what. Test my skills against him, we were supposed to fight before, so, so many things that I have lot of respect for. There are so many things that excite me for this fight.”
After that? After last year’s premature retirement announcement, Brown isn’t about to make any big proclamations.
“I’ll reflect and look in the mirror be the guy who has been to that level. And after that I’ll reflect and look in the mirror and say okay now, do I have what it takes to beat a guy who is at that level right now?”