It’s the Friday before Sean Brady heads out to Las Vegas for his UFC 259 bout against Jake Matthews and there are some last-minute details to take care of.
Like a haircut.
“I got a busted, crooked nose and a cauliflower ear,” Brady laughs. “If I can fix my hair a little bit, I need to do it.”
Point taken. And hey, on the biggest event of 2021 thus far, there’s no shame in looking good for the cameras, but haircut or no haircut, the welterweight prospect has impressed everyone thus far, extending his perfect pro record to 13-0 with a trio of UFC victories over Court McGee, Ismail Naurdiev and Christian Aguilera. Add in this weekend’s bout with the surging Matthews, and that’s not an easy way to start off your UFC career, but when you’re a Philly fighter, taking the toughest road possible is in your DNA.
In fact, after beating Naurdiev and Aguilera in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brady was scheduled for a third fight in December before he was forced to withdraw due to injury. The opponent, top 15 welterweight contender Belal Muhammad. Yes, the same Belal Muhammad who is stepping up to face Leon Edwards in the UFC Fight Night main event on March 13. Watching closely the whole way is the 28-year-old Brady.
“A hundred percent,” he said. “I was supposed to fight him a few months ago and he went out there and got a big win against a decent opponent (Dhiego Lima) and now he's got a main event. And that's the way of our world right now. Crazy stuff happens, people get hurt and guys gotta have fights and guys gotta have opponents, so Belal stepped up and he's number 13 fighting number three and he's got a main event and that's huge. I'm super happy for him and I hope it all works out and I hope I get to fight him down the road. It's a crazy game right now and you can get opportunities at any moment, so I know I'm gonna be staying ready for anything that could possibly pop up.”
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It’s why Brady trained throughout 2020, always prepared to pick up the phone and say “Yes” to whoever was offered. And while the competition keeps rising with every one of those phone calls, he believes that with a victory over Australia’s Matthews, who has won three straight, he will have earned a top 15 opponent the next time out.
“Jake's a very tough opponent and I take all my opponents very seriously, but I know I'm gonna win, and after that, I need a ranked opponent,” said Brady. “I need somebody with a number next to their name. I don't like to say I deserve anything, but I think I would deserve a ranked opponent after this to at least get my chance to get into the top 15. No numbers outside of the top 15 matter, and I'm ready to fight the best guys in the world and I'm gonna start with Jake and then after that I want Robbie (Lawler) or I want 'The Leech' (Li Jingliang). I want somebody in that top 15 that's gonna keep getting my name bigger and bigger.”
Around this time, I remind Brady that at this time two years ago, he was coming off a fourth-round TKO of Tajuddin Abdul Hakim in a CFFC show in Atlantic City. Now he’s calling for fights with Robbie Lawler. And that’s a realistic notion, too.
“Even Jake, I've watched him a million times,” said Brady. “He's a little bit younger than me, but he's been in the UFC a long time and he's got a lot of experience. I'm a fan of the sport, so knowing that I could be potentially fighting guys I'm a fan of is awesome. But, at the end of the day, I'm coming to take what they have, and after this fight, I need to take somebody's number and that's what I plan on doing.”
UFC 259: Fully Loaded
UFC 259: Fully Loaded
Sounds like one of those Philly guys talking, and if you’ve ever been around a fighter from the City of Brotherly Love, you’ll understand that they approach their work in the cage or the ring a little differently than most. Brady fits in perfectly, as evidenced by his answer when I ask if he’s looking forward to the day when he gets in there with someone who won’t go down when he punches them or won’t submit when he locks up a choke or an armbar. In other words, is he ready for a good ol’ fashioned Philly war?
“I've had a few of those in my career, early on, and even Court was a super tough guy,” Brady said. “I hit him with some stuff and he never went away, but I have that in my back pocket. If I can't submit you or finish you or win a clean decision, I can go to the darkest, darkest place in this world and I can find whatever I need to find to pull me through that and win a fight. I can slug it out with any of these guys and I can do it all. So if that's what has to happen in a fight, I'm good anywhere. I'm ready for a dogfight.”