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Matt Brown recovered from COVID-19, open to Kevin Holland fight or anyone else who lands him on hometown Columbus card

UFC 189 Weigh-ins
Matt Brown, photo cred: Esther Lin/Sportsfile
Esther Lin

Matt Brown was excited to build on his Performance of the Night in June with another fight before the end of 2021 but COVID-19 had other plans.

The all-time knockout leader in UFC welterweight history tested positive for the deadly disease just days before he was scheduled to face Bryan Barberena in one of the final cards of the year. While he didn’t endure any serious time off due to the illness, Brown was still sick enough that he wasn’t able to fight and he’s just now getting back into the gym so he can prepare for his return to action.

“I feel good,” Brown said while appearing on The Fighter vs. The Writer. “Just getting the cardio back. Just getting back to training now. I was really disappointed.

“I was really excited to fight Bryan Barberena. He’s not a really big name, like I’m kind of more used to fighting. He’s not someone that when people ask me who are you fighting and I say ‘Bryan Barberena,’ they’re like ‘I’ve never heard of him.’ It wasn’t significant in that aspect but stylistically, what a fun fight. He’s just a banger. He’s willing to engage with you the whole fight. He’s got great cardio and it would have been a really exciting matchup, I think.”

As he looks ahead at 2022, Brown is much more focused on a particular date and location for his next fight rather than focusing on any one opponent.

With the UFC hitting the road again next year, the promotion recently announced a Fight Night event scheduled for March 26 in Columbus, Ohio, which just so happens to be Brown’s adopted hometown and the location where his gym, Immortal Martial Arts, is located.

Ideally, Brown would like to fight in front of a home audience much like one of the highlights of his career when he faced Erick Silva in a main event at UFC card in Cincinnati back in 2014.

“It makes sense,” Brown said about competing in Columbus. “I’m trying. I talked to Dana [White] and Sean [Shelby] and I’m trying to make it happen. That’s all I can do.

“That would be perfect timing for me. With the holidays coming up and with the kids and holidays are a busy time for me so three months after that would be a perfect time. Have a good long camp, be able to get all my ducks in a row and be in really good shape and be able to put on a great performance.”

Unfortunately, Brown hasn’t received word yet if there will be space for him to compete on the card after UFC officials informed him that the event is already completely booked.

“Sean told me when I first heard about that card, Sean told me the card was full,” Brown revealed. “I don’t know. It might be too late already. They don’t necessarily announce the fights even though they’ve been booked so maybe it’s already full. Maybe someone could drop off. There’s so many things, especially with the whole corona thing still going on, people are dropping off all the time for that reason, whether it’s short notice or whatever, so there’s lots of opportunities out there.

“Columbus, of course, is the best for me. I can sleep at home and drive downtown and go fight, come back home and sleep in my own bed. That would be pretty cool.”

As of now, the UFC has only confirmed the main event for the card where former light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz will clash with Aleksandar Rakic along with a previously confirmed matchup pitting Amanda Ribas against Michelle Waterson.

Brown would like nothing more than to join them and he’s ready to rebook the fight with Barberena or perhaps welcoming someone like Kevin Holland to welterweight after he previously mentioned “The Immortal” as a potential opponent for his return to 170 pounds.

“I haven’t really thought about it to be honest,” Brown said about his opposition. “Barberena’s probably the first that came to mind because I thought it would be rebooked but he just fought last week. I don’t know if he’ll be ready to fight again.

“[Kevin] Holland is a tough guy with a good name. That would be a great fight or anybody else. I’m not really too picky. You’ve known me for a long time, I don’t really pick and choose. I say put a guy in the cage with me and tell me where to be and I’ll be there.”

Holland named Brown as one of several opponents that would make sense for him as he looks to make his UFC welterweight debut in early 2022.

While he was complimentary towards the Ohio native when mentioning his name, Brown doesn’t buy anybody asking to face him as a sign of respect because ultimately it’s still a fight.

“The whole respectful call out thing, I don’t really buy that,” Brown said. “If you’re calling somebody out, that’s not respectful period.

“But whatever, if he wants to fight, we’ll fight. If they give me the call, I’m down. Let’s make it happen, Columbus, March 26. Let’s go.”