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 TJ Brown walks out towards the Octagon before facing Erik Silva of Venezuela during the UFC 282 event at T-Mobile Arena on December 10, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Athletes

How TJ Brown Stays Hungry

Featherweight Looks To Contine String Of Solid Performances In Kansas City April 15

How does a fighter keep his hunger after going 3-1 in his last four UFC bouts with a Performance of the Night bonus in his most recent outing?

Take a trip to Mexico.

Kansas City Fighters On The Rise

“I've been forced to get after it, because I'm doing this camp in Tulum, Mexico,” said Arkansas’ Brown. “These guys down here are some savages, man. So I've been forced to work my ass off and there was no time to sit around and enjoy the cake too much when I'm down here. These guys are really pushing me.”

TJ Brown interacts with fans as he walks out towards the Octagon during the UFC 282 event at T-Mobile Arena on December 10, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC)

TJ Brown interacts with fans as he walks out towards the Octagon during the UFC 282 event at T-Mobile Arena on December 10, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC)


Nothing like being the “UFC guy” while a bunch of ambitious up and comers are looking to take your head off on a daily basis. And while the work south of the border is obviously paying dividends for the 32-year-old as he approaches his Saturday bout with Bill Algeo in Kansas City, it had to be a risky move for someone already competing at the top of the sport, even though he will have his Arkansas squad with him on fight night. But after talking with the coaches in Tulum, he was willing to take that risk.  

UFC 287 In Review

“I saw they were doing a really good thing with their program and now they're really growing,” said Brown. “They’ve got a lot of world champions down here training, he invited me down and shoot, I said I'd stay the whole camp. After the first week, I was sold. These guys are pushing me, and they got a good community down here that I can really vibe with, and I really like it. I'm happy about my decision to come down here.”

It’s been a bit of peace in the chaos that can be the life of a professional prizefighter, and Brown needed it after being forced to leave the Glory MMA squad due to coach James Krause’s suspension. He had settled in nicely in Lee’s Summit, but the fight game always has a way of throwing curveballs at the most inopportune times.

TJ Brown punches Kai Kamaka in a featherweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on May 01, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

TJ Brown punches Kai Kamaka in a featherweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on May 01, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)


“I'd like to tell you that it's not a problem and it's not been a big deal, but I finally felt like I found home over at Glory and then all that happened and man, there's just no really replacing James Krause,” said Brown. “But, like I said, I made this move to Tulum for the camp and it's like living a dream over here. I train two or three times a day, I go to the beach and it's really a dream come true. So I guess things all kind of worked out the way they were supposed to.”

And despite the change of scenery, expect plenty of fans to turn out for Brown this weekend.

“It is kind of weird, especially James not being there, but man, we're going to blow that roof off,” he said. “There's a bunch of people coming up from Arkansas and I've got a lot of good friends there in Kansas City, so it's going to be a good night.”

TJ Brown celebrates after his submission win over Dylan Lockard in their featherweight bout during Dana White's Contender Series season three week 10 at the UFC Apex on August 27, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/DWCS LLC/Zuffa LLC)

TJ Brown celebrates after his submission win over Dylan Lockard in their featherweight bout during Dana White's Contender Series season three week 10 at the UFC Apex on August 27, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/DWCS LLC/Zuffa LLC)


There have been a bunch of good nights for Brown since his arrival in the UFC in 2020, with the most recent a third-round submission of Erik Silva that earned him his first finish in the big show and the kind of confidence that makes him believe that the best is yet to come. But first things first, and that’s Bill Algeo.

“For me, it's just one step at a time,” Brown said. “Let's get this next win. Bill Algeo is my only concern right now. I'm not the guy to get too ahead; I just want to beat Bill Algeo and we'll go from there. Shoot, I didn't even think I was going to be this be where I'm at today, so just one at a time for me.”

It’s the right attitude to have, but don’t think for a second that Brown is just happy to be here. Well, he is happy to be here, but everything that happens from here on out isn’t a bonus; it’s part of a bigger plan, one that started nearly 10 years ago with a November fight against Shelby Graham in Paragould, Arkansas. Brown lost his pro debut that night and if you told him that one day he would be in the biggest promotion in the sport, he wasn’t so sure about that.

“I wouldn't have even believed him if I’d told him this story of what things were going to be,” he laughs. “But I tell you what, it sure would've gave me a lot of comfort back then.”

And now he’s here. For real.

UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs Allen took place live from T-Mobile Center in Kansas City on April 15, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass