Contender Series: T.J. Brown Wants to Show How Good Arkansas MMA Is

Arkansas isn’t exactly known as a hotbed of MMA, but if Contender Series winner T.J. Brown gets his way, the UFC will place him and Bryce Mitchell on a card, to show how good the state really is.

Las Vegas, NV — The final episode of Dana White’s Contender Series Season 3 saw three more additions to the UFC roster. But for T.J. Brown, there was a bit of an ‘oh sh*t’ moment, as White didn’t immediately say Brown was in.

Speaking to reporters including Cageside Press Tuesday following the fight, Brown admitted that “when Dana was talking about me, I got super nervous. I was like ‘oh man is he going to sign me or not?'”

Trepidation turned to exuberance when White gave him the nod. “I was blown away, super excited. Anybody who knows my background, what I’ve came through, it’s been a long way to get to where we are now. I don’t think it’s really all settled in yet. It’s an amazing feeling.”

Now, the featherweight is ready to make a statement in his new home. It almost wasn’t to be, however. An illegal knee saw him looking at a stiff challenge during the fight, for starters.

“I felt him coming up, I thought he was coming up, that was my fault, it was bad timing,” Brown said of the infraction, which led to a point deduction. “I apologized to Dylan [Lockard], and he understood. Emotions get high in there, we’re both in there super-pumped up, I felt him coming up, I thought he was coming up, I made a mistake. I’m just glad we were able to continue and things worked out.”

The penalty forced Brown to switch up his game plan. That, and “being dropped in the first round. Normally I’m a stand-up fighter.” Luckily, he was well-rounded enough to get things done on the ground, trapping Lockard in a head and arm choke in the third round.

At 29 years old, and with six losses on his record, Brown doesn’t have the “hot prospect” label fellow Contender Series hopefuls tend to. It’s something White acknowledge, and something Brown himself seems to recognized. Asked why he feels he belongs in the UFC, the featherweight said that “I’m a sign of perseverance. I got a good story. Get to know me more. I’ve been through a lot of bumps, a lot of tough roads. But in life that’s what happens too. I’m a good sign for that. I never quit, I never gave up, I kept persevering, and look where I am today.”

The next step, of course, is his debut on the big stage. And he’s chomping at the bit to get in there. “I’m ready now. I came out of this healthy, I feel good,” he said.

“Maybe they can put me on the same card as Bryce Mitchell, he’s from Arkansas,” said Brown. “He’s one of my training partners, good shout out to him, he helped me out a lot for the fight. Let’s put me and him on the same card, and show ’em how good Arkansas is.”

Watch the full Contender Series Season 3 Week 10 post-fight press scrum with T.J. Brown above!