For featherweight TJ Brown there’s no denying that 2019 was his breakthrough year in MMA. He intends to continue building upon that momentum at this weekend’s UFC on ESPN+ 27 in Norfolk, Va.
After kicking off 2019 with three straight wins, Brown capped off the year with a third-round submission victory over Dylan Lockard at Dana White’s Contender Series to earn his way into the UFC, fulfilling his career-long goal.
“I’d say 2019 was probably the best year of my career,” Brown told MMAWeekly.com. “I fought four times. I had two head kick knockouts. One was on the ESPN Top 10. I had other big finishes.
“Not to mention, I closed the year out on Dana White’s Contender Series with a third round arm triangle (finish of Dylan Lockard) to get my contract into the UFC.”
When it comes to his performances, Brown is largely happy with how he fought in 2019, including getting through some difficulty in his bout versus Lockard.
“I definitely call myself a finisher,” said Brown. “Whether it’s the first round, second round, I’ll always come to finish it. That was something I was able to display.
“In my last fight, I sure didn’t predict me coming out there and getting knocked down in the first, but it was a great opportunity to show my will to win and my heart. I’m never going to quit. I’m coming all three rounds… hard. I think I’ve shown the well-rounded fighter that I am. I can finish you on the feet or finish you on the ground.”
On Saturday in Norfolk, Va., Brown (14-6) will make his proper promotional debut when he faces Jordan Griffin (17-7) in a preliminary 145-pound bout at UFC on ESPN+ 27.
“I’m not underestimating him by any means,” Brown said of Griffin. “He comes out of a great camp with Duke Roufus. I honestly believe if I come in there and do all the small things right, and I perform how I know I can, I’m going to put Griffin away no doubt.”
Much how he is approaching his fight with Griffin, Brown doesn’t want to look past the opportunities as they come, but rather focus on what is in front of him at any given time in 2020.
“Usually I take it fight by fight,” said Brown. “I don’t want to look past anybody. That’s something I can talk more about with my manager. Like I said, I’m not getting any younger, so I want to go in there and stay busy this year, make this UFC run and see how far I can take this.”