In the prelims, Featherweights TJ Brown and Kai Kamaka III will battle it out in a match that should be fun to watch. I had the pleasure of speaking with TJ Brown as he prepares for his fight on May 1st.
A few weeks ago, I was also lucky enough to interview Brown’s opponent, Kai Kamaka III as well. For a full preview of this fight, check out the article!
TJ Brown Interview:
Danny Podolsky: First off, how did this fight with Kai Kamaka III come together and how have you been training?
TJ Brown: First and foremost, I wanted to have a full camp for this fight after my last fight was on two weeks notice and things didn’t go how we wanted. I also wanted to make some adjustments. I had been splitting time at a different gym [Glory MMA] with James Krause so I wanted to make sure I had a full camp and plenty of time to make my adjustments. [Kai Kamaka] got thrown at us and I talked things over, and we decided that that was a great matchup for me to go out there and get a win.
Danny Podolsky: How much of a difference does it make having a full camp versus being asked to step in on short notice as you did in your last fight?
TJ Brown: That’s a tricky one because during my 2019 year, I fought five fights and won all five and a big part of that was me staying ready. What I mean by that is staying in good shape and staying ready to take a fight on short notice. All of those fights were on around two weeks notice and I performed well. I feel like at this point in my career, I need to make some adjustments with it being a higher level of competition. I need to grow, I need to improve, and hopefully this fight with Kai Kamaka will go through because we feel like we have a good gameplan.
Danny Podolsky: Have you gotten to watch any of Kai Kamaka’s previous fights, and is watching film a big part of these camps for you?
TJ Brown: Yeah. Not so much earlier in my career, and it had worked out for me, but as I’m facing higher competition, I think it’s very important to strategize. It’s important to not only know his strengths, but also some of the weaknesses that I can take advantage of.
Danny Podolsky: You got your UFC contract after submitting Dylan Lockard on DWCS. What’s it like both sitting there waiting to hear if you got the contract, and then also when Dana White said you got a contract?
TJ Brown: That fight for me was so special because it was a fight where in the first round I was dropped, and I had a point deduction. I was able to really show my resilience and come back in the third round and finish that fight. At that moment, I was so content about putting on such a good performance that in my mind the anxiety wasn’t really there in terms of getting the contract. However, when [Dana White] announced on live TV that I had gotten the contract, I got emotions through the roof. I’ve been about eight years in the game, grinding with a lot of ups and downs so it was really a dream come true.
Danny Podolsky: How did you get into MMA in the beginning? Did you begin training MMA from the start, or do you have a specific background?
TJ Brown: No, I played different sports coming up. I played football and baseball, but things just didn’t work out so I ended up finding MMA. Before that, I had a few amateur boxing matches so I kind of started with amateur boxing to answer your question.
Danny Podolsky: You’ve lost both of your last two fights. Is there a certain change that you think needs to be made, or is having that full fight camp enough of a difference?
TJ Brown: Yeah of course. Like I said, I’ve been with the same gym my entire life, but after dropping two fights in a row, I feel like I need to make some changes, and get out of my comfort zone. To do that, I’ve been going to Glory MMA, I’m not teaching classes right now, even though I’m used to teaching classes. All that I’m doing right now is training and focusing on this fight and with that, I have an added intensity and focus. Eventually, I’ll shine through and have one of the best performances of my life.
Danny Podolsky: With gyms shutting down, has COVID played a role in limiting your ability to train?
TJ Brown: When it first all started, yes. My gym was shut down, and I could only train with certain people. Now, everything is wide open so I’m good.
Danny Podolsky: Throughout your career, 13 of your 14 wins are by finish, including 9 submissions and four knockouts. What is it about getting finishes that you relish and what do you consider stronger, your ground game or stand-up?
TJ Brown: Good question, that’s something that just comes naturally. Honestly, a lot of my knockouts, I’m not going out there and trying to knock someone’s head off, I’m just trying to hit them.
When I touch people, they go away. As far as answering whether I’m a striker or a ground fighter, I will tell you that I love to strike and let these hands go. That’s what I love. However, I’m a very well-rounded fighter, so what happens a lot of times is I strike and these guys don’t want to strike with me so they shoot where I end up submitting them. I have more passion for striking, but I feel like I’m very well-rounded and can finish anyone anywhere.
Danny Podolsky: You’re from Arkansas, and fellow ranked featherweight Bryce Mitchell is as well. Does seeing his success make you want to follow his lead at all?
TJ Brown: That’s a good question. To be real honest, Bryce is my boy. I’m super proud of him, and we’ve trained together for a lot of our careers. For me, it’s more about the fact that I know how good I am and I know what happens when me and him train.
For me, I know how good I am, and I see his success, knowing how good I am while training with him. I want what he’s got. It keeps me hungry because I want what he has, I know how good I am. I just need to get in there and perform, and put together some good game plans. I see [Bryce Mitchell’s] success, but training with him I know I’m just as good. I’m super proud of Bryce and he has a different style than me, and it’s a bit of a motivating factor for me seeing how much success he’s had.
Danny Podolsky: If all goes well and you beat Kai Kamaka, how busy would you like to be in 2021?
TJ Brown: If I knock this win off and stay in good health, I’d love to get as many fights in as I could. I’m 30 years old now and I’m not gonna be fighting forever, so I’m ready to make this run now.
Danny Podolsky: As someone who is relatively new to the UFC, what do you want fans to know about you outside the fact that you’re a UFC fighter?
TJ Brown: You know, I’m a father first. I’m a single father and my son comes first, and I want to set a good example for him and other fathers and other people. Not only that, but win, lose, or draw, I don’t have an ounce of quit in me and I’m as relentless as they come.
Finally, I would like to thank TJ for taking the time to answer some questions!
Follow me on Twitter @PodolskyDanny for more sports news and discussions. Also, make sure to follow @OT_Heroics for all of your sporting needs. Come discuss this and much more at the Overtime Heroics forums!
Featured Image Credits to Embed from Getty Images