It wasn’t that long ago when Mike Thomas Brown sat atop the 145-pound division as champion, but a lot can change in five years.
Brown (26-8) defeated then-champion Urijah Faber in November 2008 to capture the WEC featherweight title. He defended the belt twice before losing it to current UFC titleholder Jose Aldo. After losing the title, Brown went 2-3 in his next five fights.
The 37-year-old American Top Team trained athlete has won his last two bouts, but hasn’t competed since May 2012. Long layoffs typically don’t benefit fighters, but Brown spent the time improving his game.
“This is the longest layoff I've had. But I'm never out of the gym for very long. So even though I haven't been in the cage for a while, I've been in the gym continuously,” Brown told MMAWeekly.com content partner Knockout Radio.
“I'm a gym rat, always in there learning and improving. I never stay outside the gym. So even though I wasn’t in the cage I was training and learning and improving and playing with techniques and stuff. I think that's important,” he added.
Following his last fight, a unanimous decision win over Daniel Pineda, Brown considered retirement. But after undergoing a successful neck surgery, the former champion says he’s never felt better.
Brown returns to action at UFC Fight Night 26 on Saturday against Steven Siler. Siler wasn’t his original opponent, however. He was originally scheduled to face Akira Corassani, but Brown doesn’t think the change is a big deal.
“Not a big deal, both similar styles. Both right-handed, both kind of well-rounded guys. Neither guy is dramatically better at one thing than the other. Wasn't like I was fighting an amazing wrestler or something like that. They're both well-rounded MMA guys, both right-handed, so slight changes, but not huge changes,” he said.
Brown didn’t make a prediction for the fight’s outcome, but if things unfold like he’d like them to, he’ll win big and win early.
“Best case scenario is I come out and drop him early with a big shot because that's what I'll be throwing, big shots. So if it lands, he'll go down, I'll jump on him and finish him and it could be quick.”
Brown recently signed a five-fight deal with the UFC, but isn’t looking further down the road than Saturday.
“I'm a short goal guy, man. I like short-term goals. I always have been; I don't look too far in the future,” he said. “I really want to fight this fight, get the win, and see where I'm at then. That'll be three in a row and it'll be nice to get back after a long layoff so we will see what happens.”