“The Immortal” is trying to turn a negative into a positive, despite the scary predicament the world finds itself in.
Matt Brown was supposed to be fighting this weekend. At UFC on ESPN 8 in Columbus, “The Immortal” was expected to face Miguel Baeza. Of course, Brown is not fighting this weekend. Instead of entering the cage Saturday night at the Nationwide Arena, he’s basically sitting home like the rest of us.
We spoke to Brown, an Ohio native, on the very night he should have been squaring off with Baeza. It has been, needless to say, a hectic time for the long-serving welterweight. When the Columbus card fell through due to Ohio initiating a mass gathering ban, the UFC scrambled to move the event to Nevada, where they own their own small arena/production facility, the UFC Apex.
Brown, however, wasn’t entirely sure what was going on. “It seems like so long ago now. I don’t think anyone actually called me, told me,” he recollected. “I think, I’d just seen the news on Twitter and stuff. Then I got an e-mail asking me for my flight info. I think that was about it. Maybe someone told me, but I don’t remember hearing an official word.”
Had he stepped on a flight, there was no guarantee he’d be coming back. Nevada certainly would have been a safe enough bet, but suddenly it felt like the UFC was looking all over for a venue willing to accept fight. Especially when Nevada became nothing more than a faint hope.
“I don’t know,” Brown answered, when asked if he would step on a plan with no surety of being able to return home to his family. “I was left in limbo there for a few days at least.” Brown had a feeling things were a lost cause, however, when the Nevada Athletic Commission held the first of two meetings, putting a halt to combat sports in the state. They announced a second meeting, just days out from March 28, the night of UFC Columbus.
“I kept training, but I really had the feeling this was a lost cause, it’s not going anywhere any time soon,” said Brown. “It’s just been a mess. The whole world’s a mess right now. What the f*ck do you do?”
Brown’s feeling was right. The Nevada commission cancelled their second meeting, leaving a ban on combat sports in place for the foreseeable future.
Every day I wake up and read worse news about covid and it has me wondering what the end game is here… I mean is it actually possible to completely get rid of the virus? Or is it a part of the world forever now?
— Matt Brown (@IamTheImmortal) March 28, 2020
Like many fighters and non-fighters alike, Brown has taken a hit in several areas, including his gym shutting down during the pandemic, and UFC Columbus falling through. On the bright side, his coffee business has seen an uptick in sales. “I guess more people are probably shopping online and coming across the business, so those numbers are going up, which is probably the best thing to happen for me right now.”
In the meantime, Brown is home schooling his kids, and staying in shape for his return. “Hopefully this thing passes by pretty quick. I guess the numbers are looking pretty grim at this point. It’s a scary thing.”
Still, Brown is trying to turn the downtime into the positive. Spending time with family, getting work done around the house. “Just try to turn this negative into a positive. I know everybody’s going through a hard situation now. I don’t know how everything’s going to play out. I’ve got to try to figure out if the government is going to help out my business [gym]. They’re the ones who forced me to shut it down. They’re offering me loans. You forced me to shut down my business, now you’re going to offer me [the chance] to go into debt?”
In the end, Brown pointed out, “we’ve got to trust these f*cking politicians that we don’t trust.”
Brown’s scheduled opponent this weekend, Miguel Baeza, came as a bit of a surprise to the veteran. And most onlookers. Baeza (8-0) made his octagon debut back in October, and was given Brown, a veteran of nearly 40 fights, for his second outing. He’s a Contender Series veteran with an undefeated record, but Brown has been with the UFC for over a decade.
“I was surprised a little bit. I’d never heard of his name before that, I haven’t got to watch the Contender Series much,” Brown admitted when asked about the booking. “I’d never heard of him or anything, but most of the time, I don’t even ask who the opponent is. They tell me of course, but I just say ‘tell me where and when to fight.’ We’ll figure it out when we get in the cage.”
As for when the fight might be rebooked, “I haven’t had a word. I’m just caught in limbo, trying to get in the best training I can,” said Brown.
Of course, Brown has no idea when he, or anyone else, will be released from what amounts to a quarantine. “The whole world’s changing right now. I don’t know how all this is going to turn out, but I get the feeling the world’s never going to be the same after this.”
Watch our full interview with Matt “The Immortal” Brown below.