Damien Brown is a guy that’s seen it all. A native of Albury, Australia, he’s a veteran of the Australian Army, an active prison guard at a maximum-security prison, and a nearly ten-year MMA veteran. His early MMA career saw him competing in his native country as well as in places such as Jordan, China, Ireland and Malaysia. His success around the world and the strength of a five-fight win streak eventually earned Brown a coveted UFC contract. He is currently under contract with Rizin FF and will be looking to earn his second straight win with the Japanese promotion when he returns to the ring on April 21, at Rizin 15 against Koji Takeda.
As a member of the Australian Army, Brown served as an infantryman and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2007. Veterans issues are often a topic of debate among politicians in America, and it would seem as though we aren’t the only country dealing with these sorts of issues. Brown has spoken in the past about the poor treatment of veterans and the issues that they often face, and it would seem not a lot has changed since making those prior comments.
“There’s no middle ground to help defence personnel,” told the Daily Telegraph in 2017. “They can give you treatment and stuff, like for injuries and PTSD and stuff like that. They get you treatment, but if you can’t work, because it’s that bad, there is no compensation. You basically just sit there and go broke. So, if you have PTSD from the service and stuff like that and you have a mortgage for your house, you’re not going to have a way to pay for it, because you can’t work, and they don’t compensate us. A lot of veterans fall into that hole.”
Brown states that another unfortunate reality for some veterans is that they fall through the cracks and become homeless, or in jail. He’s seen this first hand through his other, non-MMA related job as a prison guard at a maximum-security facility.
“We definitely have a lot of vets that end up homeless or in jail,” Brown told MMATorch. “I work in the jail system now, and it’s like every day I see a veteran in jail. Whether it be they become criminals due to drug and alcohol dependency or if they just committed a crime. A lot of them become drug and alcohol dependent, therefore the drugs lead to crime, whether it be armed robbery, or theft or something like that. Then they just end up in jail.”
Brown also shared a few more specifics about his job as a prison officer.
“I work as a correctional officer, I work in a maximum-security facility. We’re pretty lucky, we work three days a week, 12-hour shifts, thirteen days a month, three days a week. That’s full time so it gives me the time to train so that’s pretty good.”
When it comes to MMA, Brown is perhaps best known for his Fight of the Night winning performance against Frank Camacho at a Nov. 2017 UFC Fight Night event. The fight was close, and while Brown lost a very close split decision, he still earned some extra money for his efforts. He earned his purse obviously, but on top of that, he earned his Fight of the Night bonus, as well as a percentage of Camacho’s purse because of a failure to make weight.
“It’s kind of a weird setup, I got my purse and his fine all in the same setup,” Brown said. “Then I got the fight of the night bonus, that comes down the track when you have taken a drug test and they get the results back. I think for me it took about six weeks maybe for me to get that, and I never got his win bonus. You know a lot of guys when they miss weight, if they get fight of the night, the other guy gets his bonus, but I never got that. They announced on sports center that ‘he’ would get it, but the UFC came back and said no. But you know there’s been other occasions when people have.”
Following his stint with the UFC, Brown signed with Japanese MMA promotion, Rizin FF. He debuted on the December 2018, Rizin 14 card against fellow former UFC fighter, Daron Cruickshank. Brown submitted Cruickshank in the first round and put himself in a good position in the lightweight division. Clearly signing with Rizin was a good decision and it seems like it was an easy one to make.
“The big thing for me was I either wanted to fight for Rizin or for Bellator,” he said. “I love fighting in America, but I’ve never fought in Japan and I felt like both promotions would I guess pay me. I was at the point where I was taking off work to get ready for fights and I didn’t want to quit doing that. So, fighting on the local circuit wasn’t going to help me so I wanted to use that UFC experience and name. We spoke to both of them, I made a management change somewhere in there, and I spoke to Bellators match maker and I spoke to Rizins match maker and then I got a new management team and we got a deal with Rizin. That’s who I wanted to sign with, because I wanted to fight in Japan, and I knew I could get a good deal there.”
What the future holds for Damien Brown
“I called out (Takanori) Gomi after the last fight, I think that would be a cool fight. I know most people would say he’s lost five of his last six or six of his last seven but it’s a respect thing. He’s been around the sport for a very long time, he’s done a lot of cool things for the sport. I just feel like it would be an honor to not only fight him but fight him in a ring where it all started. I mean he’s a pride legend, I just think that would be a cool opportunity for me. But I don’t really care who I fight. They’ve got a lot of good guys. They’re running a lightweight tournament so I’m sure that will have sixteen of the best lightweights in the world, outside of the UFC and Bellator.”
Damien Brown spoke to us for roughly twenty minutes and touched on several more topics such as his desire to face one of Bellator’s top lightweights, his opinion on Australia’s top prospects, and his thoughts on the influence of Mark Hunt. As a reminder, Brown will be returning to action on April 21 at Rizin 15. You can follow him on Twitter @beatdown155, or perhaps you can find him at his gym, Base Training Center in Brisbane. The full, uncut interview will be available soon in our podcast feed.