"In my opinion I haven’t done anything, and I need to step my game up now." - Marcus Brimage
Taking the easy road? Not Marcus Brimage, who will not only look to rebound from a loss to Conor McGregor against the dangerous Russell Doane this Saturday on the UFC 175 main card in Las Vegas, but he will do so in a new weight class following a layoff of 14 months due to injury.
Bring it on, says Marcus.
“That’s just how it is,” he laughs. “Let’s go ahead and do it all at once.”
That’s the attitude Brimage is bringing to the Octagon these days. The way he looks at things after a 3-1 start to his UFC career, it’s all or nothing now.
“My mentality at 135 is completely different than it was at ’45,” said the 29-year-old from Coconut Creek, Florida, who first arrived on the UFC landscape by way of The Ultimate Fighter 14, where he made it to the quarterfinals before getting submitted by Bryan Caraway.
Caraway was just one of the standouts on that season, which also boasts the number one flyweight contender, John Dodson, and a young man who has done pretty well for himself recently, newly-crowned UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw.
“It legitimizes my season of The Ultimate Fighter,” said Brimage of Dillashaw’s title-winning effort against Renan Barao in May. “We’ve got John Dodson and TJ Dillashaw, and it just validates the season. People can say our season had some great fighters and I’m just honored to be part of it.”
But now he wants to make his own mark, something he feels he hasn’t yet. That may be too harsh of an assessment, considering that Brimage won his first three UFC bouts, defeating Stephen Bass, Maximo Blanco, and Jimy Hettes. But for “The Bama Beast,” winning wasn’t enough, something he feels had to do with his weight class.
“I was the shortest featherweight on the UFC roster, and I was still winning,” said the five-foot-four Brimage, “but I’m not winning the way I’m used to winning. I’m used to winning by TKO, and for instance, when I fought Jimy Hettes and Stephen Bass, I hit them with everything I had and it rocked them and stumbled them, but it didn’t knock them out. And I was trying to figure out what was going on there. And another thing, when I see my opponent at the weigh-ins, it’s like nothing, but when I step into the cage the next day, I’m like ‘that guy was not that big yesterday.’”
He laughs, but there was no smile on his face before, during, or after his April 2013 fight with the brash Irishman McGregor. The two had a war of words before the fight, and with the Dubliner receiving the lion’s share of attention leading up to the bout before ever even stepping foot in the Octagon, Brimage was fuming, and he was going to take it out on McGregor. Unfortunately for the American, in their shootout, McGregor drew first, winning by TKO in 67 seconds.
“Truth be told, McGregor is a great fighter and I’m not taking anything away from him, but mentally I was not there that fight,” said Brimage. “I was so aggravated because of the lack of respect I was getting from everyone, and it really started to piss me off. Ever since I got into the UFC, I’ve always been the underdog. I’ve got three fights and three wins, how much do I have to prove that I am a fighter? So I became too emotional during that fight.”
And while it cost him, it also taught him some valuable lessons, one being that he needed to drop ten pounds south to the bantamweight division. It hasn’t been pleasant for him, but he’s doing it.
“It’s not fun at all,” he said of the move to 135 pounds. “You have to weigh your food and that sucks on a whole new level. Even four ounces of food is terrible. Right after your fourth spoonful, it’s over. There’s no more.”
But hey, after all this, there may be more Marcus Brimage on Saturday than he’s ever shown before. And if he wins he’ll undoubtedly be happy, but for now, he just has something to prove.
“As far as I’m concerned, I haven’t done anything,” he said. “The only thing I did was get three decisions. People disavow my wins in the UFC because I didn’t finish, and then I lost to Conor McGregor and me losing to him just elevated his career. So in my opinion I haven’t done anything, and I need to step my game up now.”