How Taking Fights on Short Notice Shapes Careers

January 10, 2024
2 months

Matt Brown has been talking about his MMA career, having competed in the UFC for over a decade. He’s speculated a lot on what taking fights on very short notice does for a fighter, as to whether it is a help or a hindrance for combatants.

Brown Has Experience on His Side

While the MMA news sites and media outlets will favor the young guys in MMA, Matt Brown, at the age of 42, has the experience to gauge his career and trajectory. He said that one of the key abilities in any fighter’s career is to ‘zoom out.’ By this, he means to see the bigger picture for fighters when they are offered a fight. Brown admits that he has the advantage of a lot of experience at this point. He later added that not enough fighters look at the totality of all options, taking the fight, then winning or losing, or rejecting the fight entirely.

If he hadn’t taken as many fights and racked up the same amount of losses in his career, could he have etched a better legacy? He’s only ever truly been involved in one championship hunt back in 2014…which must be a byproduct of having so many Ls on his resume. However, as he has been a loyal servant to the UFC, he’s consistently been offered new contracts and fights.

Taking Fights is Good for Promotion Stature

Matt Brown was quick to say that during his time in the UFC, every time he helped out the promotion by taking a fight on late notice, it was good for his stature in the company. He said that doing so would often help his standing when being booked for future fights. There’s a lot of weight in this, especially in the UFC.

At UFC 294, Dana White was seen outstretching his arms and praising Kamaru Usman, who took the fight against Khamzat Chimaev on ten days’ notice. Given that the Nigerian fighter even stepped up his weight for the fight, that will no doubt leave him in a good position in his future endeavors. Even though he’s lost consecutive matches to Leon Edwards, if he wants a third match, he has a better chance of getting it, given he’s helped out the promotion.

The Argument for Taking Late Notice Fights

From his comments, Matt Brown says that he was always of the opinion, ‘Let’s just fight’ when he was offered a last-minute bout. While he has reservations about some of the decisions, the prior point of the good stature says it paid off for him in the long run. Of course, the alternative is to reject it. Without a proper excuse, that could leave the fighter being poorly regarded by management.

The other thought is that if a fighter takes on a bout at the last moment and wins, then it’s a big feather in their cap. It accelerates their career as they could beat an opponent without nearly as much preparation, and this only intensifies if they weren’t in a fight camp at the time they got the late offer through.

One of the most recent examples of this was when Tim Elliot took a late-notice fight with Su Mudaerji in December 2023 on the Song versus Gutierrez fight night card. Elliot went on to win the fight with the Performance of the Night award. He got the praise for victory, helping out and lining his pocket with some bonus payments.

The Argument for Rejecting Late Notice Fights

Matt Brown also stated that he had a few regrets about taking so many late-notice fights during his UFC career. He added that a MMA career is more of a marathon than a sprint. Fighters who take all the fights at once are not necessarily preparing themselves for a long haul of fights in the cage.

Taking on too many fights can stutter and hamper a career. Firstly, a loss could throw a spanner in the works of a current fighter’s ambitions. Even if they weren’t completely prepared or ready, the L is still an L, and it never particularly helps careers. Sometimes, it’s better to stay on track with the pre-existing game plan.

A really good example comes in the form of Ericka Almeida. The Brazilian female fighter was one of the hottest prospects entering the UFC, having left her homeland promotions with a 7-0 record. She stepped into the Octagon much earlier than anticipated, taking a late-notice fight against Juliana Lima just a few months after signing up with Dana White’s company. Almeida ended up losing the fight, and her career never recovered. She had one more fight with the company (which she lost) before moving back to Brazil to fight back on the South American circuit.

How Late Is Too Late?

Given that Matt Brown often reflects on the mistakes of taking so many fights on late notice, there has to be a point where the risk of taking a fight with almost no preparation is greater than any reward of winning. Some would argue that they need at least a week to be properly prepared for a fight. If they were already match-fit, having already been in camp, they could be ready to go without much additional time.

One fighter who would beg to differ is Terence Balelo. He fights for the Extreme Fighting Championship promotion in South Africa. He took a fight with just one day’s notice in October 2023. Despite having very little time to prepare, he ended up defeating Musa Sethwape by unanimous decision.

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