Verbal Sparring: Chris Brady (Legends MMA)

Conor Heun (left), Chris Brady, Chris Reilly (right)

Conor Heun (left), Chris Brady, Chris Reilly (right)

While many aspiring fighters aim high and want overnight success, Chris Brady is a cat of a different breed. Not to say that he sees a glass ceiling for himself in MMA, but he knows that on his path to proving himself, gaining match experience, and becoming a pro MMA fighter, the journey is the destination.

For Brady, Legends MMA is his life. If he’s not training with the fight team weekday afternoons, he’s teaching the beginner and regular Muay Thai classes. If he’s doing neither, you might catch him working the front desk or even joining in on classes.

In this interview, Brady gave his thoughts on an array of topics, from the professional (his transition from Muay Thai to MMA, his technical strategy, the effects of cutting weight) to the more personal (life as “the angry kid,” how he became a part of Legends, and his aspirations of becoming the “professional student of MMA”).

JT: What city did you grow up in?

CB: I grew up in Knoxville, TN. They had a lot of wrestling. Where I went to school, I knew kids that wrestled, but I never really thought about doing it. Now, looking back, I wish I had. Because now, I like it. I think its fun. But at the time, I was on some punk-rock, “fuck that.” I thought it was stupid. I wasn’t really athletic in school.

Wrestling is a tough sport. Doing it now, doing the fighting, with all this, I really wish I had. It just wasn’t the group of kids I hung out with. The group of kids I hung out with partied and just hung out and didn’t want to do anything. That’s all we did.

JT: You had to be a big music buff, rocking a Black Flag tattoo on your chest.

CB: Yeah, the whole punk rock thing was a really big influence in my time.

Growing up, I was the older brother. I was taking care of my brother, and helping my mom. So I didn’t have anybody else to look up to. So the kids that I knew – that was what we listened to. It was just something I kinda fell into. Going to shows all the time.

See, I wasn’t an artist. You’d think I’d really get into it. “Oh he plays guitar.” I don’t play guitar [laughs]. I just like partying, I like the music, and I like having a good time.

So its kinda one of those silly things you do when you’re younger. You’re like “fuck yeah. Black Flag tattoo. That’ll be hardcore. I’m gonna get laid.”

JT: Did that tattoo get you laid much?

CB: Uhhh, it did. I was good at being the kid in high school with the tattoo. Girls like that, I guess. “oh, he’s bad.” But now I’m thinking I could have put something way cooler than that. But you don’t think about that shit. You’re just like “dude, must do it. Let’s do that right now!”

JT: How long have you lived out here?

CB: About four and a half years now. I moved out here with my girlfriend [at the time], who I met in high school back home in Tennessee. She was from out here. I came out here with her. We’d been together for awhile. When we broke up, I had a lot of time on my hands. So I wanted to start training.

JT: Did you do any martial arts as a kid or anything?

CB: I did a little bit of Taekwondo as a kid but it was one of those strip-mall Taekwondo spots. I started doing it for a little bit, but at some point my mom couldn’t afford it anymore. So we stopped going and that was the end of that.

JT: And Legends was the place where you fell into fighting?

CB: Yeah, I came down to Chris Reilly’s old gym, The Bomb Squad. Originally I was looking for, like, Kung Fu. Just because a buddy was like “oh, that would be cool.” I didn’t know anything about it. So I came in there and I was asking him. . . where I could find that. He said “well, I don’t really know of any places, but if you want to check this place out, try our Thai boxing. You might enjoy that.” So I took a class with Paolo Taka, who was the trainer there at the time. I liked it a lot and I just started doing it.

JT: So you were training in Thai boxing and Paolo. Then, from there, you started messing with Eddie too?

CB: No, I actually just recently have been training with Eddie seriously. I didn’t start my jiu-jitsu MMA training until a little bit before Tuff-N-Uff. That’s one of the reasons why I feel like my first fight went the way it did. I got subbed in the first round with a rear naked choke. Many other factors contributed to that too, but when it comes down to it, I just hadn’t had enough ground training. I just got my blue belt from Eddie two days ago.

JT: Talk me through your amateur Muay Thai matches and your amateur MMA.

CB: The amateur Muay Thais I started doing when we were at The Bomb Squad. I had my first fight at USKO in Riverside. I did really good. I can’t really remember now if I won or lost. But from there, Chris . . . said “that’s the way you gotta do it, if you want to get good at Thai boxing.” And at the time, all I wanted to do was Thai boxing. I wasn’t trying to do MMA.

It’s like, if you wanna get good at this, just like anything else, you gotta fight all the time. And not so much because it’s the number of fights, but it’s the experience of doing it over and over. You become comfortable, and once you’re comfortable with things, then a whole other level allows your skills to come out. All of a sudden, you’re not tense anymore, so you throw that combination. You’re not tensing up. You’re thinking and using all your weapons.

So he just took me to . . . MTA in North Hollywood. We’d go to Kru X’s gym in the Valley. Basically, for the first couple of years, that’s what I was doing – Thai boxing.

Slowly but surely, I just kinda started to turn Thai boxing into MMA. First I was doing both; I was trying to learn a little bit of it. But now, it’s like MMA is all I do. I still train in Thai boxing and I’m still down to do Thai boxing fights. But the focus right now is on MMA. Where I’m really gonna make money, hopefully.

JT: What’s your philosophy or approach to training?

CB: My approach to training – a lot of people say that I’m a real technical fighter. . . especially with my striking. . . I like to punch and brawl a little bit too, but I’m very technical. That’s one of my big strengths. But at the same time, I feel like as much as putting in reps and learning something. . . you gotta work hard to and push hard. Push push push. Train hard, train longer than everybody else. That’s the only way you get good at something. By just doing it constantly. Every day.

JT: Would you say you’re letting fighting and training take over your life right now?

CB: Yeah. And a lot of people feel like that would be kinda a problem for them. That would bother them, or they’d get bored with it. Yeah, I get bored sometimes, but this is what I want to do. I want to go and train today. At three on Saturday. And I want to go on Monday and train at 4pm, then go to jiu-jitsu. I want to do those things. So it doesn’t make it that hard for me. I want to go and put the time in. I don’t want any distractions. I want to just do what I’m doing.

JT: It sounds like this was something you had intended to do for a long time; that you just never got around to it.

CB: I always liked it. I just . . when I was at Chris’, with the Thai boxing at the Bomb Squad, they were like “you’re pretty good at that” and I was like “yeah?” Having something that is actually fun, that you’re good at. . . that really did a lot for me. For my self esteem. I can tell you right now that I’m a totally different person than I was [before]. I’m still me, but it does something to you. It changes you.

JT: Do you have to cut weight much?

CB: Not really. I walk around at 145 or 148 lbs. I fight at 135, so it’s pretty easy. If I have a month to get ready, I can come down to about 140, just from dieting and training. And then I just cut the last five pounds in the sauna. So I don’t make a huge cut.

JT: Doing a cut at that weight is that much harder. You have less to cut.

CB: Yeah. Ten pounds to me is huge. Twenty pounds is ridiculous. That’s why I see so many guys at 135 and I’m like “how do you fight at 35, man? “ This dude that walked in the other day, this dude that Shu [Hirata] brought in. He’s walking around at like 160. I’m like “really?” You know, I’ll take you five rounds and see if you can go five rounds after cutting that much weight.

I’d much rather have the gas. There’s a certain degree of cutting that you have to do. Otherwise, you’re just going to be somewhat smaller than everyone else. So you just kinda have to do it to even the playing field. Wrestling’s the same way. They wouldn’t do it if there wasn’t a reason why.

JT: It’s hard also to maintain that, because there’s always going to be some level of trying to get the advantage. If you move the weight classes up, there’s going to be guys who will try and cut one weight class down. If you move them down, then the guys that are at whatever level will still try and cut lower, to be the bigger guy in the weight class.

CB: They should make it same-day weigh-ins. It’s just healthier for people. It’s already a tough sport. There’s no reason to make it tougher. You’re already getting punched in the face. You can only do that for so long. I think the weight cut has a similar effect, to not only performance, but eventually, it shortens your career. Eventually, you’re gonna run out of steam. That takes time off your career, I think.

JT: For you, what’s the toughest part of fighting? The training? The mental? The rules?

CB: I think the training is probably the toughest part. . . I love going to train, but sometimes, when you’re getting close to the end of your training phase for a fight, then you’re just fucking tired. You just want to go home and eat a big fuckin’ pizza. That’s the worst part. The repetition of it.

And every once in awhile, you’ll have those glimpses and breaks of new stuff that you learned. Then you get inspired. “oh, I just learned that. I just caught so-and-so in this new submission.” And then you get inspired, so you start training even harder. You’re just like “I just want to do it again and again.” And the better you get, the slower the learning comes, because now you’re learning the intricacies of this sport. It takes a lot longer to land that right hand than it does to throw that right hand. How to actually make that punch land. So you get inspired, but sometimes, you just get tired and hungry. You want to go home [and] do something else. Because you’re just. . . .like. . . out of it.

JT: How do you balance that out? How do you keep yourself afloat?

CB: I like to go home and watch TV. That relaxes me. I like to watch the news. I like to read magazines. I like to read. I like to go to the beach. I like to do the normal shit that everybody likes to do.

JT: You still skateboard, right?

CB: No. I used to. I would go and train and I’d go home and be like “oh, let’s go skate.” Then I’d go to sit down and do a trick and I’d be like “ooohhh, I don’t have any power.” I just worked all my legs out. So it just came down to choosing what I thought was more important. And too, the injury thing, man. I’m not trying to tear my ACL on some stupid shit and then be out for months at a time. That’s the worst, to me. Being stuck. Not being able to do anything.

Like Conor [Heun}. I don’t know if I could handle that. Conor had his jaw wired shut. Couldn’t fight for months. Couldn’t train for months. That would kill me.

JT: Would you consider yourself more of a Muay Thai fan or an MMA fan?

CB: I’d say I’m more of an MMA fan now.

JT: Who are some of your favorites?

CB: I’d say [Lyoto] Machida, Anderson Silva. Machida’s game is so tight. Not tight in the sense of cool, but tight, in the sense of technically sound. His background is crazy. He’s a black belt in karate. He’s done sumo wrestling. He’s a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He’s so good at all these things and he’s so technical. He puts Tito Ortiz on his back and makes him look like a fool. But his style is what a lot of guys don’t get. . . The matador and the bull. He’s the matador. Tito Ortiz was the bull and everybody else. . . he’s showboating, and when he’s ready, he stabs that motherfucker and he’s done.

That’s what I like about him. He’s just waiting for you to make that one move. Just waiting for it. You can just see it, and it’s like boom, crack. I like guys with pinpoint accuracy. I think because I want to be like that. I want to be like Anderson Silva. I want to be that good, and that technically sound and that professional. Because I feel that those guys are real athletes, and real fighters. They’re not about some bullshit. Real martial artists.

JT: You’re the first person to mention Machida. Most of them go straight towards the Anderson Silvas, and the Wanderleis too.

CB: Yeah, well, I don’t care how hard you punch or how strong you are. Eventually you’re gonna meet somebody that’s gonna punch harder or be stronger than you. So it’s good to have that killer instinct, but you also need the technical prowess to change your game up. . . There’s always a way to beat somebody. And that’s why I like Anderson Silva and the Machidas. I feel like they’re good at everything, but it’s not like they’re ten times better than everybody else. They use this [points to head] and that’s what I respect.

And a lot of guys in MMA have that wrestling mentality. Go, go, go, go! And that works on a lot of guys, but you’re not going to beat Anderson Silva like that. You’re not gonna tough him out. He’s gonna [feigns, ducks, and punches] – bop, bop, bop. Wear your ass out. I like that style. When you’re ready, just take somebody out.

JT: What’s the best and worst memory for you?

CB: I think the best was the last fight I had. It was a good memory because all of us had gone up there to fight and everybody had gotten stopped. We were taping for the pilot for that reality show. I think I was the third fight out of our guys. It was just like “man, I can’t let us go home like that. I don’t want to get beat and have it be on this show. That would ruin our whole shit.”

That’s my best memory, because under pressure, I was able to go out there and perform. I don’t care how good you are in the gym. If you can’t fight in front of all those people, under the lights, you’re not worth shit.

JT: Because that’s where the real test is.

CB: that’s the real test. Whether or not you can do it on that day at that time, that you said you were gonna step in the ring and get in there with that guy. If you can’t handle it then, I don’t care what you can do in the gym.

And worst – I think the worst is when I was in one of my Thai boxing fights. I fractured my arm. I was blocking, but I was being a lazy showboat. You’re supposed to get two hands up there and make it nice and tight and solid. Instead, I was like “go on, kick.” And just put my arm up. It was all loose and I fractured my arm. I won, but it was hard, because I was out for a really long time. I felt like that injury took awhile to get me back into where I was at before.

JT: What do you think you would do if you weren’t fighting? Or when you don’t fight, later on down the road?

CB: If I wasn’t ever going to fight, if I’d never done this, I’d probably be a mechanic. My grandfather is a diesel mechanic, and he’s always wanted me to come and work with him. To learn the trade. I still see him to this day and he’s always like “well, you can always leave and come to Ft. Valley, GA and learn all this stuff that I’m doing. . . “

After fighting, I just want to open my own gym. I have all the goals besides being a great MMA fighter. I want to get a black belt in jiu-jitsu. I don’t just want to be a great kickboxer. I want to be a great fighter and a great martial artist. Just to be good and know a lot of different things about fighting. . . to be able to teach people everything.

I feel like, okay, you’ve put all this time in to learn this stuff. You can’t do it for the rest of your life, so you gotta pass it on and use it to help. Otherwise. . . you’re not taking full advantage of what you’ve learned. Because part of it is the fighting. That’s personal. But giving back to other people, or helping other people learn what you’ve learned. That’s probably what I’d do after fighting.

Chris Brady teaches the regular Muay Thai classes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 12pm, and also on Wednesdays at 6:30pm. His beginner Muay Thai classes are at 12pm on Saturdays. He anticipates returning to the ring on March 24th at Tuff-N-Uff amateur MMA, at the Orleans Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV.

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2 Responses to “Verbal Sparring: Chris Brady (Legends MMA)”

  1. hey Chris, my name is GAME im one of the owners of GAME OVER FIGHTWEAR and we were interested in sponsoring you for your next tuff n uff event on friday april 24th 2009. We are a new clothing line representing all extreme sports but mainly we represtnt the sport of mma. If you are interested email me at gameoverfightwear@yahoo.com. thanks.
    ~GAME~

  2. HARD CORE Says:

    WELL! IF THIS GUY IS SO TECHNICAL WHAT MOVES DOES HE PREFEER AND WHY ?

    CAN A THAILAND TRAINER COACH CALL YOU FEEMUR ?

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