Former WEC Champ Brown Recovering from Hand Surgery, Fatigue


Mike Thomas Brown has lost four of his last six bouts. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com


Mike Thomas Brown hasn't exactly been himself lately.

The once-dominant WEC featherweight champion has lost four of his last six following a 10-fight winning streak that lasted three years. Most recently, the 35-year-old was bested by Brazilian submission wizard Rani Yahya at UFC “Fight for the Troops 2.” During the first round of the featherweight contest, Brown snapped the medial collateral ligament in his right hand.

“It was like having a rubber finger,” Brown told Sherdog.com of the injury. “If you touched it, it would bend completely the wrong way. There was nothing holding it together anymore. It was almost like a broken finger, but worse.”

The injury required surgery to reattach the ligament. But that was the easy part, according to Brown. Tougher is the task of mentally coping with his recent skid.

“I don't care about [the injury]. The fights are the tough part. We didn't even do an MRI. I just wanted to get it done,” said Brown. “I’ve got time off, and I need to think about stuff anyway. So cast me up and let me think about life for a couple of months, you know?”

That cast was removed just days ago, and with another month of rehab, Brown should be back to full-strength. But the hand injury does not represent all that stands in the way of the Maine native returning to his peak form. He must also overcome a phantom hindrance that first appeared prior to his bout with Diego Nunes at UFC 125.

“I’ve always been a monster in training, and I’m always in shape. It was an eight week camp, and about three weeks before the Nunes fight something was going on with my body where I started getting tired really quickly,” explained Brown. “I talked to my coaches, and all signs pointed to over-training. So I started slowing down early, and it still kept happening. So I just kind of chilled for the last three weeks of the camp. Of course I still trained, but I tried to [conserve my energy] a little bit.

“I didn't know how I was going to be in the fight, but about four minutes in, my body shut down -- all lactic acid. I wasn't just tired. My body wouldn't function,” said Brown. “I wanted to throw up and die, and a minute-long rest wasn't going to help me. I needed a 30-minute nap, you know?”

That may sound like an exaggeration, but that's exactly what Brown did after the fight. He went backstage, lay down and slept for half an hour before returning to his hotel room. Though the fatigue was puzzling and the loss demoralizing, it would not take long for Brown to receive a shot at redemption.

“So, [after the Nunes fight], I’m bummed. I’m depressed. Then three or four days later, [UFC matchmaker] Sean Shelby calls me and asks me if I’m injured,” said Brown, who would accept a fight with Yahya on just three weeks' notice. “I’m mentally hurt, and I didn't know what caused it. Maybe it was just over-training. [So I told Shelby] I was in shape, because I wanted to erase the memory [of the Nunes loss].”

Instead, the same thing happened at Fight Night 23, and Brown was even more baffled by the fatigue than the first time. Going through only light training leading up to the Jan. 22 contest, the American Top Team standout asserts that he even held back during the first round of the fight.

“Going into the fight, I knew Rani was notorious for getting tired, and I’m not. So I’m not going to worry. I’m going to relax,” said Brown. “I was going almost half speed, and he got inside and started working. Then out of nowhere, the same deal. The bell rang, and I went back to my corner. I said, 'How the hell am I getting exhausted? My muscles are screaming for oxygen, and I’m not even trying.’”

According to the former champion, he is now consulting with several physicians in an effort to uncover what has been plaguing his performance. Though Brown did not disclose details regarding potential diagnoses, the fighter did divulge that his resting heart rate was discovered to be “a little too high.” One thing that Brown is convinced of is that the problem is likely physical and not mental.

“I thought that maybe I was anxious in my first time back in the UFC. Maybe it was somehow mental and anxiety-related. But then in the second fight, I had no nerves. I had just fought three weeks [prior]. I was so confident that there was no way that I could lose [that fight],” said Brown. “If only the Nunes fight had happened, then I would think maybe it was 50-50 between something physical and something mental. But it happened twice in a row, and they were totally different types of fights.”

As for his future in the cage, the one-time champion says he wants to take at least six months off to reevaluate and revamp his training before returning to competition. His recent setbacks have made an impression on the hard-punching wrestler. When asked about how it felt to go from perceived as nearly invincible to falling out of the top 10 rankings inside of 15 months, Brown spoke from his heart.

“Man, you don't know how f---ing much my heart is broken. My heart is busted up,” said Brown. “I'm doing everything different. For years, I was doing everything wrong, and it was working. In late 2007, I stopped my strength and conditioning [training] and just started sparring and grappling a lot. And then I went on a tear and didn't lose. Now, it's time to make some changes. I think I’m a better fighter as the bigger, stronger, throw-a-guy-around type of style, and I’m going to get back to that.”

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