When it comes to choosing fighters to model yourself after, Sean Brady is aiming as high as you can possibly go.
At 9-0 in his pro career so far, Brady, a 26-year-old welterweight prospect based out of Renzo Gracie Philly, is just beginning to etch a few words into the MMA history books. It’s two fighters who already have their own well-worn chapters that he seeks to emulate: Georges St-Pierre and Eddie Alvarez.
Brady sees a kindred spirit in “GSP”. Beyond just having similar physical attributes, Brady admires how the two-division UFC champion developed strengths seemingly out of thin air, particularly his universally respected wrestling. Brady himself started off primarily as a Muay Thai fighter and now he’s fallen in love with jiu-jitsu and wrestling.
Anyone who saw Brady’s most recent win against Gilbert Urbina in the main event of Legacy Fighting Alliance 59 back in September could have easily mistaken Brady for a ground fighting specialist.
In reality, much like St-Pierre, he had no amateur wrestling experience whatsoever before embarking on an MMA career.
“Growing up, I always watched him and I just love the way he was so well-rounded,” Brady told MMA Fighting. “I kind of try to base how I fight off of him. You can’t just be a specialist at any one thing, you have to be great at everything and felt that’s how George was, so I try to fight the same way as him.
“He never wrestled in high school, I never wrestled in high school, and I have people always ask me if I was a D-1 wrestler in college.”
St-Pierre’s infamous double leg would become an important part of his arsenal as he mounted title defense after title defense, but it’s not just St-Pierre’s expert takedowns that impressed Brady. He had a chance to see St-Pierre in the flesh when the former champion spent time at Gracie’s preparing for the Nick Diaz fight back in 2013 and that confirmed what Brady had already heard about St-Pierre’s legendary work ethic.
“I think we kind of have almost the same build. I’m about 5-9, 5-10, stockier for the division. That’s kind of how he was,” Brady said. “He was a taller guy, he was built somewhat like me, and his work ethic. I’ve always seen videos of him just training super hard and that’s what I do.
“He’s a true martial artist too, I’m a black belt in jiu-jitsu, he was a black belt in I think karate. He’s a black belt under the Renzo Gracie system as am I, he was just an all-around martial artist and that’s what I consider myself as well.”
The two did not train together (Brady was a purple belt the last time St-Pierre was in the neighborhood), but Brady has spent plenty of time with Philadelphia’s own Eddie Alvarez. Not only has Brady been on the mats with the former UFC and Strikeforce champion, but Alvarez recently endorsed him on social media:
I agree— Eddie Alvarez (@Ealvarezfight) February 1, 2019
Brady is still blown away by the support of his teammates and coaches who have helped him with his confidence, which wasn’t exactly sky high when he began his MMA journey. Being associated with a fighter like Alvarez, a pillar of the Philadelphia fighting community, went a long way towards building Brady up to where he is now.
“I talk to Eddie probably once a week or something like that,” Brady said. “He’s just a great guy and a great mentor for Philly fighters. When I was coming up I didn’t even have any fights and everyone wanted to be Eddie or say they knew Eddie.
“So having Eddie even know my name is a huge deal for me and he’s just a great guy and for him to say that I can be in the UFC is a huge deal. Eddie’s an amazing fighter, so I’m lucky to have him in my corner.”
On Saturday, Brady defends his Cage Fury FC welterweight championship against Taj Abdul-Hakim (8-1) in the main event of CFFC 72 at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, N.J. It’s the fourth headlining opportunity in a row for Brady, who is preparing himself for a whole new level of attention with the bout airing live on UFC Fight Pass.
Though Brady is getting used to being a main event player on the regional scene, he’s ready to climb his way back up the card should the call come from the major leagues, especially if that opportunity happens to be at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia for UFC on ESPN 2 on March 30.
“That’s the best case scenario for me is to beat Taj on Saturday and then have them call me up and, ‘Hey, we need you in six weeks.’ That would be the best thing to happen to me if I could make my UFC debut in Philly,” Brady said. “There would be nothing better than that.
“My teammate Jonavin Webb, he had to make his [UFC] debut in Australia. If I could make it in my hometown, this stadium’s only 20 minutes from my house, that would be amazing. I’m hoping for something like that, but I have to get past Taj first Saturday.”