Any time Randy Brown needs to remind himself of his roots, he knows where to go.
A trip to his home country of Jamaica isn’t always the easiest thing, especially when he is preparing for fights in New York. Sometimes, though, it’s the most necessary thing.
Brown has faced adversity before, and he’s reminded of it every time he pays a visit to Stanley Couch Gym in Kingston, Jamaica.
“That place has a lot of broken dreams,” Brown said to John Hyon Ko of The Body Lock. “Just a lot of people coming up and a few people made it out and a few people didn’t. It just changed a lot of people’s lives.”
Brown is one of those who moved on to find success. He’s a UFC fighter with a 5-3-0 record inside the Octagon. He gets paid to do what he loves.
But that doesn’t mean he’s the big man on campus when he laces up his gloves at Stanley Couch Gym.
“That place is a very humbling place, you know?” Brown said. “And if you go there kind of like with your chest out, that place will humble you.”
Fans of the sport — even the most hardcore — may not know their names, but there are people who are not to be taken lightly in that gym.
“It’s one of those places where you go and you get to see some what you call ‘gym heroes,'” Brown said. “Just gems, man, just diamonds in the dirt, you know, that have been around for a long time.”
In a way, those diamonds embody the spirit of the gym. It’s not a flashy facility, but it doesn’t need to be.
Punching bags are set up to be protected from the elements inside. The ring is placed outdoors.
“It’s interesting, you know, and the ropes all dirty and just old and just, it gets rained on,” Brown said. “But the guys in there working, man, they don’t make any complaints about anything. They just grind man and they work hard, you know. The gloves are all messed up and they’re just working.”
Randy Brown deals with tragedy
It’s the roots in which he holds onto that keep Brown grounded. So when tragedy struck Brown’s family, he dealt with the adversity.
Brown counting down the days until his fight against Bryan Barberena at UFC Greenville. It was his chance at redemption after nearly a year off following a knockout loss against Niko Price.
But a sudden change almost forced him to pull out of the fight.
“I got the call that my grandmother passed the morning when I was leaving,” Brown said.
In the moment, he had to make a split-second decision.
“It was weird because it was kinda like, I didn’t know what to do,” Brown said. “I didn’t know how to feel, you know. Obviously I was sad, you know, I had to leave my mom. My mom’s like breaking down crying and the same time my flight’s in 30 minutes.”
Ultimately, he got on the plane.
“I was upset, you know, that I had to leave, but I knew I still had to go handle business,” Brown said. “My mom is trying to keep it together for me.”
And that he did.
After receiving his mother’s blessing to go out and handle business, Brown made the trip to Greenville, where he picked up a third-round TKO victory over Barberena in a performance that he described as “inevitable.” The win was his first since November of 2017 when he knocked off prospect Mickey Gall by unanimous decision.
“I just blocked it and I just went and just fought,” Brown said. “And I just knew at the end of the fight I was going gonna win and I was gonna dedicate it to her.”
Randy Brown vs. Warlley Alves
Brown will deal with a different type of adversity when he returns to the cage at UFC Sao Paulo. The welterweight will face off against Brazilian Warlley Alves in Alves’ backyard.
Brown had originally mentioned Alves’ name to his manager when he was looking for a fight, but he wasn’t planning on going into enemy territory.
“I was like, ‘Hey, if this guy doesn’t work out, I’ll fight Warlley Alves, I just don’t want to go to Brazil,'” Brown said. “I’d fight him, but I just don’t want to fight him in Brazil because you know how that goes with the judging and all that s**t … Then they came back and they gave me Warlley Alves in Brazil. I was like, all right, whatever. So I just took it.”
Brown immediately started scouting his opponent. He took a special interest in Alves’ fight with Alan Jouban in 2014, where he saw how effective Alves’ pressure can be.
Still, there’s not much that he believes Alves can beat him at.
“I don’t want to sound like an arrogant piece of s**t or like one of them dudes that just be talking about their ass. But listen man, I’m telling you I’m head and shoulders when it comes to skill, striking wise, like I’m far above a lot of these dudes, man,” Brown said. “And Warlley Alves, he’s not there. I mean not to say he can’t swing and catch me, you know, anybody can get caught. But I’m head and shoulders above the dude, man. Stand up wise I don’t think he can touch me on the feet period.”
Another thing he picked up from that 2014 bout is that when in Brazil, it’s best to not let the fight reach the scorecards. But that didn’t require any divergence from the usual plan for Brown.
“That’s always the mindset,” Brown said. “My goal is to implement my techniques that I’ve learned, you know, and if I implement my techniques, I know that I’m going to get the finish … If I do what I do, he won’t make it to the third.”
Shane Connelly is a journalism student at Penn State with a passion for sharing the stories of MMA fighters.