The final turning point came just recently when Brown withdrew from a scheduled bout opposite Estevan Payan at UFC on FOX 11 on April 19. The 38-year-old felt he would be physically fit to compete at the event until a lingering neck injury flared up again.
ďI accepted it like seven weeks out, but my neck was kind of bothering me and itís too much on my neck,Ē Brown said. ďI was training and in good shape, but then I started losing some strength in my hand again. When I get banged in the head some of my grip strength goes away and itís just a reoccurring injury.Ē
Brown admits that, along with the neck injury, he was struggling with motivation when it came time to put in the necessary preparation to defeat a fighter of Payanís caliber.
He wanted to fight when he couldnít, and couldnít fight when he wanted to. Brown thinks that inner-conflict, coupled with injuries and his age, is too much to overcome at this point in his career.
ďWhen I had the fight, I didnít really want it,Ē Brown said. ďMy body was bothering me, and then right when I pulled out I was like, ĎOh man, I should have just done it and worried about my neck later.í Now Iím feeling better about it. It was the smart decision to pull out.
ďItís hard when youíve got only one hand thatís working properly. I canít hold onto anything with my left. If I try to grab somebodyís wrist they can easily pull away because my strength is gone. Usually in a month or two, that strength comes back, but if I bang my head and get a stinger, it goes away again. Itís just continuously active.Ē
If this is indeed the end for Brown, heíll be more than satisfied with his accomplishments. His two victories over Urijah Faber under the WEC banner were unquestionably the pinnacle of his career, but he also owns victories over familiar names such as Mark Hominick, Leonard Garcia and Nam Phan.
Brown is still struggling with the idea of never fighting again. However, he is still capable of reflecting on what has to be considered a successful career. If he could change one thing, though, it would be that his wins over Faber took place under the UFC banner, not the WEC.
ďIím grateful that I was world champion and the best in the world at one point,Ē Brown said. ďBut it would have been nice to have done it in the UFC. In 10 years a lot of people might not remember what the WEC was, but the UFC will still be around. It would have been cooler to say I was the UFC champion than WEC champ, but itís OK.
ďThe Faber fights were my high points because thatís what made me world champion. Iím glad I got to do that.Ē