Sean Brady got no favors in his UFC debut when he was matched up with veteran Court McGee last October, and he certainly didn’t get any for his second trip to the Octagon, where he will meet fellow welterweight prospect Ismail Naurdiev this Saturday in Virginia.
But don’t think that the UFC is out to get the unbeaten prospect. He requests such matchups.
“I've always fought tough guys and in my run in the UFC there's not gonna be any easy fights,” said Brady. “The UFC's the best of the best. It doesn't matter if you're outside the top 15 or in the top 15; you're the best in the world at what you do, so fighting Court was an amazing debut for me. He's super tough and I really got to test myself against him, and now against Naurdiev, he's an up and comer like me, so we're gonna be two young guns out there and we're gonna get after it. it's gonna be exciting.”
It will be, as the 11-0 Brady faces off with the 19-3 Naurdiev in a clash of highly regarded 170-pounders, but while practically every fighter says that they want tough competition night in and night out, a look at Brady’s bout list shows that he lives up to his words as he has never fought an opponent with a losing record – amateur or professional. He gives a lot of credit to that upbringing to the promotion he fought most of his fights with – New Jersey’s CFFC (Cage Fury Fighting Championships).
“I think coming up in CFFC, the organization I was champion for before I get signed to the UFC, it's just the way that they are,” he said. “There's no easy fights. And the same thing on my part. When I turned pro and I knew I was going to pursue being a fighter as my career, I didn't want any easy fights. I didn't want to pad my record, I didn't want to fight guys who weren't on my level.”
As for the fact that everyone he’s fought has been .500 or over?
“That's actually a pretty cool stat to have under my belt,” said Brady, whose willingness to fight tough competition served him well when faced with McGee, a former Ultimate Fighter winner who had 15 UFC bouts heading into their matchup in Boston last fall.
“I've always been fighting guys who were really good or who were in the UFC, so I never had an easy fight,” said Brady, owner of pre-UFC wins over Colton Smith and Aaron Jeffery. “And I've always trained like that. When I was getting ready for Court, I trained like I was fighting one of the best guys in the world because I was. And I've been training the same way getting ready for Naurdiev. He's one of the best in the world and he's super dangerous and I have to be on my toes to make sure I don't get hit with any of that crazy spinning stuff. So I think it comes down to my confidence of how hard I train and how hard my team pushes me and the guys I've fought in the past. I never had an easy fight and I never expect to have an easy fight.”
At this point, it’s probably important to note Brady’s hometown. He’s from Philadelphia, home to some of the best boxers to lace up the gloves and a couple pretty accomplished MMA fighters in Eddie Alvarez and Paul Felder. And if Philly fighters share one trait, it’s that they’re willing to dig a little deeper for a victory on fight night.
As for Brady’s assessment of what it means to put on gloves and represent the City of Brotherly Love, he says, “I think if you ask pretty much any fighter from Philly, we've all got that chip on our shoulder because it's a blue collar city. Everyone in Philly works super hard at whatever they do, whether it's fighting or you're a construction worker and whatever you are, you're getting up and earning everything you get. We've got that grit and that toughness, and that's what it means to be a Philly fighter. I know I've got that in me too because at the end of the day, it technique goes out the window, we all know how to fight and how to bite down on our mouthpiece and get after it. Philly fighters got that dog in them. Eddie's got it, Paul's got it, and if I have to, I'll show I got it.”
Brady hasn’t had to get in those memorable wars that made Alvarez and Felder, and 11 fights into his pro career, finishing five opponents, three in the first round, is a good thing. But those days will come, just like they do for every fighter, and when that time comes for the Daniel Gracie jiu-jitsu black belt, he’s ready for it. In the meantime, the 27-year-old is going to keep training hard while embracing his newfound celebrity back home.
“I get recognized places I go now,” said Brady recalling a recent trip to the local Wawa when he was noticed as a UFC fighter by a couple people in the store. “Philly's big, but it's small in a way. I'm from Northeast Philly, so a lot of people know who I am and I get so much support. I'm lucky to have the city behind me the way I do, so it's cool. It's a good time for me and it's just gonna keep on getting better.”
How much better? That’s up to Brady. And if he has his way, it’s going to be quite the year ahead.
“If everything goes as planned, as I think it's gonna go, I'm trying to rattle them off,” he said. “I'm healthy and I want to have a super active year. Obviously, I've never looked past anyone I'm fighting, but after Naurdiev, I want another name. Whoever they send to me, I'll be ready. I'm here to fight the best guys in the world and that's what I plan on doing.”