At UFC Vegas 25 on Saturday, T.J. Brown saw his hand raised for the first time as a UFC fighter, but it hasn’t all been good vibes since then.
In fact, immediately after the scorecards were read and Brown was declared the victor by split decision over Kai Kamaka after a hard-fought contest, Brown was disappointed that his opponent’s coach Eric Nicksick gave him the cold shoulder. Nicksick was understandably frustrated by the close call not going his fighter’s way, but Brown still feels that the situation could have been handled better.
“What caught my attention is I’m a man, I teach my son and myself to have good sportsmanship and to set a good example,” Brown said on What the Heck. “After that fight, win or lose, his coach is up in arms, runs out the cage, throws a fit, didn’t even shake my hand. That shows a lot about him. I’ve always been taught, win or lose, you dust yourself off as a man and you show respect to your opponent and his coaches. He didn’t come over and shake my hand or nothing, so that was a bit disrespectful in my opinion, win or lose. You’re not setting a good example for your athletes or your team by showing that bit of sportsmanship.”
“It was a bit [disappointing to see Nicksick’s reaction], because he’s talked to me before and been cordial with me,” Brown continued. “And Kai was super nice, dude had a conversation afterwards, I showed him my love, because I respect a man that would go in there with me and fight like a dog. I got mad respect for him regardless.”
Kamaka’s team called the scorecards “horrible” and are going forward with an appeal to the Nevada Athletic Commission to have the decision overturned or at least get they’re fighter a proper explanation for why the decision did not go his way. On MMA Decisions, 15 out of 15 media members scored the fight for Kamaka.
Some of the social media reaction has gotten to Brown as well and while he’s more than satisfied with his effort and his win, he’s aware that there’s a lot of negativity out there.
“For me, I’ve just been on cloud nine,” Brown said. “I know what I did. I trained my tail off for about 10 weeks in a fighter camp, I went in there and fought my heart out and gave it all I had and I got the W.
“I’ve heard some controversy, some back-and-forth stuff, and I really heard some ungrateful fans. It’s like, I just don’t understand why people can’t just take time to appreciate that me and another man put our bodies on the line, fought our heart out, and gave you such a great feeling, such a great fight, and then for people to talk bad about me or Kai or anything. It’s just amazing to me how ungrateful some people are.”
If anything, Brown is most upset about the fact that his thrilling fight with Kamaka did not result in both men winning the Fight of the Night award and earning an extra $50,000 each. That prize instead went to headliners Jiri Prochazka and Dominick Reyes.
“My God, I feel like I got robbed,” Brown said. “I was so pumped up that I was fixing to get this 50 Gs, like my manager thought I was, my coach. Everybody was like, ‘Man, it’s in the bag.’ But I didn’t get it.”
“[The main event] was cool. That elbow was cool, but they didn’t fight as hard as we did. … We fought like dogs.”
In his post-fight interview, Brown admitted that he wasn’t entirely sure that he won the back-and-forth contest. The official stats show that Brown was the busier fighter and that he landed more significant strikes in the fight, and the grappling specialist also attacked with submissions even though it was Kamaka who was in top control for the majority of the ground exchanges.
Brown has already re-watched the fight and he still feels that the verdict was up in the air.
“To be honest, I knew in my heart that I’d fought and gave everything I had,” Brown said. “That’s one thing I knew for sure. I thought it could have went either way at that point, I was not 100 percent confident we got the win. I thought I won two out of three rounds, for sure, but I knew it could have went either way. But like I said, I knew I’d fought my heart out and gave everything I could and that’s all you can do at the end of the day.”
Brown escaped the bout with minimal injuries, only receiving a mandatory medical suspension that ends on June 1, and he and his team are already talking about who he should fight next and when he might return to action.
Should the UFC propose a rematch with Kamaka to settle the score, he’s open to it.
“I’m not against things like that,” Brown said when asked about the possibility of an immediate rematch. “Again, I’ve got nothing but respect for him, so I would, I would take the fight. I need to let my brain rest for a little bit. My hand’s been hurting pretty good, so let my brain rest for a while, but for sure I would give him that fight again.
“I’m down for whatever. I’d like to start making my way up the rankings, but I’d be down to fight him again.”