TJ Brown grew up without a dad, but the lessons he learned through sports have prepared him to fight at UFC 252 and raise his own son.
Brown (14-7) chatted with Fightful ahead of his card-opening fight against Danny Chavez (10-3) at UFC 252. "Downtown" Brown opened up about his own adolescence and how proud he is of his child.
"My grandparents did a lot of my raising. My mom was around a bit. I've never been around my father. I was a bit of a knucklehead hanging around a rough group. Luckily, I spent a lot of my time playing football and baseball and different sports. It helped me stay out of more trouble than I would have gotten into. It's always been a good guide for me," Brown said. "I know it's taught me a lot of lessons and there are a lot of lessons I want to teach my son as well. I was a bit of a knucklehead growing up, but luckily sports combined with MMA and having a kid have really changed my life around and put me in the position I am today."
"It's always good to see him in that environment. Sports have taught me so much. I didn't have a father growing up. Coaches and sports had such a great influence on me. I want to be able to instill that in him in his life. Watching him out there, being coachable and being a good athlete. Not just that, but giving effort. It's a joy to watch," Brown continued. "Hopefully my son will be able a bit from my example. Not only from the good things but the bad as well."
One of those "bad" things was Brown's loss to Jordan Griffin in the former's UFC debut in February.
"For example, that last fight," he began. "It does suck I lost. He was upset, I was upset. No one wants to see their father like that. For me, I'm embarrassed. He looks at me like I'm some superhero and that happens. But that's life. In life, you're going to be knocked down several times but it's about getting back up. That says a lot about where I am now in my career. I'm here today because of my resilience and being able to stand back up and keep fighting. There is a lot to be said about that. No matter what avenue he takes in his life that is going to be true. I believe you can reach success as long as you stay on the path and stay on the grind."
Brown was in firm control of the Griffin fight but passed out to an unusual guillotine choke. Griffin managed to separate Brown from consciousness despite Brown sitting in side control, a position often considered to be a safe zone from guillotines.
"I was having a lot of luck wrestling and controlling the top position. It seemed to be my easy way to victory," he reflected. "I've always been taught if someone gets a guillotine on you, pass to side control and usually, you are safe. I could feel it was tight but I thought to myself, 'I'm just going to let this guy burn out. And then I'll hit my arm-triangle.' I hit that same set-up against Peter Barrett... Before I know it I'm waking up on the canvas and looking up. I'm like, 'I know what happened now.' Things happen and for sure I've learned from those mistakes."
UFC 252 takes place on Saturday, August 15. The card is headlined by Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier 3, and boasts bouts between Vince Pichel and Jim Miller, and Ashley Yoder and Livinha Souza. Keep up with Fightful for pre-fight, fight night and post-fight coverage.