Anybody that’s ever gone through tough times knows that adversity is the world’s way of testing our strength, durability, and willingness to move forward as human beings. When it comes to life, an aging mythical boxer once said, “the world doesn’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it.” You, me, or nobody is gonna hit us hard as life, he says. “It ain’t about how you hit, it’s about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward.”
With that less-than-stunning and completely unnecessary elucidation of Rocky Balboa’s famous quote, we arrive at our next conversation with someone that’s faced plenty of adversity recently in Brian Melancon. Going through a pained experience of failing to make weight for the second time, Brian was unable to make it to his last fight with UFC-Veteran Junior Assuncao this past November at Legacy. It is fair to say that failed main event cost him time, money, and a whole lot of embarrassment in the community.
Did I mention he might have almost killed himself doing it?
For Brian Melancon, dehydrating himself to the point of his body completely shutting down on him was undoubtedly the biggest obstacle in his young fight career. Ever more excruciating for him was the fact that the Assuncao fight, slated to be the main event on that card, was the biggest opportunity he has ever gotten as a professional fighter. For this young man, the resulting effects from that calamity were not pretty. From spitting up blood and kidney failure to thoughts of quitting the sport altogether running through his mind, that experience drained him both physically and mentally.
New and improved. Better than ever.
Slated to make a return in his more natural welterweight class, the world is going to see what type of man Melancon really is on January 29th at the Legacy Fighting Championship as he takes on top East Texas (Longview) fighter Derrick Krantz of Team 515.
Below is my chat with Brian prior to his upcoming bout.
Brian, what’s up man. How did the holidays treat you? Do anything special for Christmas?
They were great man. I got to spend some time with my family and I finally got to pig out on some Christmas dinner. I haven’t been able to really do that for the last few years so it was nice to get all stuffed and Happy.
For fans that haven’t seen you, tell them a little bit about who you are bro. Who are you outside the cage?
I’m just a hardworking guy trying to do the best I can. I love to compete at everything. Doesn’t really matter what it is, from cards or board games to athletic events and especially MMA. I just like that rush and feeling of winning of course, but who doesn’t? Also, I like to think and learn about new things. I’m addicted to the Discovery, History and Science channels. I like everything from ancient history, physics and astronomy to biomechanics and human performance. If you haven’t seen the Superhuman series on History, you need to check that out. It’s amazing the things people can do. It’s all really interesting to me. I guess that’s why I never sleep at night. My mind is always racing and thinking about things. Other than that, my faith is very important to me and I’m just trying to always be a better person. Oh, and I’m a physical therapist too.
Are you back in the gym yet? What’s changed since the last time we saw you in the cage?
A lot has changed. I took a little time off after the fight got cancelled. I needed a little break. I have been dieting so hard for so long and overtraining that my body was just shutting down. I wasn’t eating enough to recover because I was so focused on trying to keep my weight down. It was a constant struggle man. I could never lift weights or anything like that because I would gain too much weight. It was mentally and physically exhausting and was taking the joy out of competing. Now I can eat normal amounts of food and actually recover from workouts. I have been back lifting again for the first time in years and I’m loving it. I have my old strength back and I’m feeling great right now.
How heartbreaking was it for you not to make weight for the Junior Assuncao fight?
One of the worst moments of my life. No one knows how hard I worked for that moment. I felt like that was my big chance, my chance to show everyone what I can do and get some national exposure. That’s what every fighter is working for and I had it right there in front of me. I knew the weight cut would be tough. All I thought about was making weight for that fight. I changed everything, I was even more strict on my diet and I was hitting 3 sessions a day to prepare. I did more for that one than ever before. And then to have my body fail like that, and be that far off, it was devastating. That is the only word that I can think of to describe it. I was so disappointed and so embarrassed. It was tough. I really took it hard and thought about hanging it up after that.
How do you, as an athlete, bounce back from such a disappointing situation?
Well like I said in my blog, I just decided that I had sacrificed too much and worked too hard to let that be my end. There was no way that I was gonna let that define me. It’s cliché but in life everyone gets knocked down at some point. How you deal with it is what ultimately determines what you’re made of. You have to take what comes and come back harder and stronger.
It seems like your last few cuts at 155 were very difficult. I’ve seen you at weigh-ins and have also heard rumors of you spitting up blood and all that. What was the thought process behind all that sacrifice?
I was told that it would give me the best chance to make it to the UFC so I was willing to do it. It took me over a year and a half to strip down the muscle from being 200lbs and to learn how to cut weight. My first pro fight was a catchweight at 160 and I cut from 180 the last 24hrs. It was brutal but I did it and decided I could do the rest. After that I started cutting to 155, but I could never keep my body weight down. I tried, but no matter how strictly I dieted, I could never really stay under 180 except right before a fight.
I’ve never really walked around under 180-185. I just wouldn’t tell people that. They would ask me and I would tell them (I was) 175, but that was actually a few days out from the fight. But yeah, there were some brutal moments during my weight cuts. I have gone through things that I probably shouldn’t talk about. People will think I’m an idiot. The worst was kidney failure, and heart palpitations. I seriously contemplated going to the ER rather than weigh-ins this last time. I’m not the only one that has ever gone through this. But after this last time, it scared me enough to know that I can never do it again. I won’t go in to details, but let’s just say it went way past the bounds of sanity. It was very dangerous and definitely not worth it.
You’ve mentioned the road will be a little more challenging now at 170. No doubt fighters are bigger, stronger at 170 but popular opinion is that the 170 division is stacked, so-to-speak. What are your thoughts on this weight class and how do you feel you compare?
I actually think that 155 is just as stacked. The difference was I could get away with a little more at 155 due to being a lot stronger and more powerful than the guys there. I still think I will be in the top as far as strength, but I know I will have less of a margin for error at 170. I will have to use all my tools and be crisp with everything to have the same success. There are definitely a lot of very good fighters in this class and I will have to work really hard to make my mark here.
What do you want to accomplish in 2011?
I just want to break on to the national scene. I was on the verge of that at 155 and now I want to get back there at 170. All I care about in my career is getting to the UFC. I have trained with a lot of guys that are in the UFC and doing well. I want to be there doing the same thing. At the end of this year I would like to be knocking on their door.
You mentioned wanting 5-6 fights this year in an earlier conversation. Any names come to mind for some of those?
No names in particular, just the best competition I can face. I tell Mick the same thing every time he asks me who I’d like to fight. I tell him give me the best guy he can find, preferably a UFC vet.
Your next fight, with Austin’s Derrick “D-Rock” Krantz on January 29th. What do you know about this guy?
I know he is a tough kid and is one of the better guys in the state. His only losses are to nationally-known fighters. I have seen him fight before and I know he will be well prepared and ready to go. I respect him just like I respect all of my opponents.
Krantz seems to have a good mix of KO/TKO and submission victories. Anything you’re training for more one way or another?
He seems well-rounded. I feel that the best preparation is to be well-rounded as well, and I think that I am. I am constantly working to improve in every aspect of MMA. I usually will watch some tape on a guy and try to work a few things in to that, but I don’t believe in just focusing on one thing for any one opponent. I think you limit your development that way.
Any predictions on how this fight will end?
No prediction other than it’s gonna be a war. There will be some of everything in this fight. Stand up, wrestling, ground, it will have it all. In training, I always prepare for the worst. I train with bigger, stronger guys and put myself in the worst positions to face adversity so that during the fight I am never rattled or worried. Take a look at my team here at Paradigm and you will see some of the best fighters in the state. When you spar at our gym, there are no easy rounds. You gotta be on your game the whole time or you’re gonna get hurt. That’s what makes us so tough.
What’s the future hold for Brian Melancon?
As far as MMA, like I said it’s UFC or bust for me. That’s all I want. That’s all I care about. I feel that I have what it takes. I have KO’d and subbed multiple UFC/WEC vets in training. I just have to put it together when it counts. If I make it, it will be a dream come true. If I don’t, then I will know I gave it 100% and can be satisfied with that and move on to other things. I just don’t want to be like an old Al Bundy, telling stories about that time in high school when he scored 4 TD’s in a game. You know the type, talking about what coulda been but never was cause they never gave it a full attempt. I have sacrificed alot and I hope my stories to my grand kids are better than that!
Any last words for your fans that are looking forward to seeing you fight at Legacy?
I really appreciate everyone’s support, and thank y’all for coming out and making Houston one of the top places for MMA in the country. We are definitely on the rise, and I am glad to be a part of that. It’s gonna be a great night of fights. I also want to thank God for blessing me with many different things in life and allowing me to cross paths with some amazing people.
Thanks to my teammates at Paradigm for always being there, and to my newest sponsor ShopMrWireless.com. They have the best phone service with unlimited talk/text/data plans starting at $40. Check em out!