UFC 279’s Julian Erosa on Reducing Sparing, Brain Health

Steven Peterson and Julian erosa, UFC Vegas 47
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - FEBRUARY 05: Julian Erosa battles Steven Peterson in their featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 05, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

When the UFC was scrambling to add a fight or two to the previously thin UFC 279 card, they called up a pair of hard hitting featherweights. Julian Erosa and Hakeem Dawodu saved the day and bolstered the prelim lineup for this weekend’s card, making for what should be an easy fight of the night candidate.

While it all came together fast, Erosa felt adequately prepared. He’s usually doing close to what he does in fight camp anyways, with one large exception.

“I’m pretty on top of training in and out of camps,” Erosa said. “I just don’t spar as much outside of camp because I think it’s a bit smarter not to be taking as much brain damage and having as much of an ability to get injured outside of camp.”

This has not always been the case for Erosa, who points out that he used to spar all the time. However, as he added fights to his record, he realized that he was doing himself more harm than good when outside of camp.

“Shoot, I used to spar every single week, twice a week, six rounds on Tuesday, six rounds on Thursday,” he said. “Becoming a bit older – I know how to fight. I don’t have to simulate fights all the time. I’m tough. I’m durable. I don’t need to break down my durability.”

Not only does he not carry that sparring to his time outside of camp, but Erosa points out now that he only does about half of his old prescription even when he is in camp. Although some fighters need a coach or a doctor to tell them to make this switch, it happened all internally for ‘Juicy J’. Some scary occurrences following practices helped him realize he it was time.

“There had been times when I got done sparring and I basically tried killing my sparring partners and vice versa. I left and drove home, and I couldn’t remember who the f*ck I sparred,” Erosa said. “God damn, this is not good. I can’t be going home and not remembering who I just sparred 30 minutes ago.”

But while those moments were scary for him, he now has the peace of mind that goes along with having himself checked out. Needing a MRI to compete in California during one of his stints outside the UFC, Erosa looked for alternative ways to just paying for one. On a friend’s recommendation, he got into a fighter study in Vegas that allows him to keep getting checked out.

“Luckily for me, I haven’t taken any substantial head trauma,” he explained. “I’m part of a study, a fighter study at the Cleveland Clinic in Las Vegas – I get cognitive tests done on me every year. I get MRI’s and CAT scans and those sort of things done. Luckily for me they haven’t seen any major kind of brain trauma.”

All of that information has made him feel better at fighting in this later stage of his career and has helped guide his recent streak. He’ll look to continue that streak as the featured prelim fight this Saturday on the ESPN prelims of UFC 279.

You can hear the entire audio of this interview at 1:25.