Somewhere in between lifting weights and his jumping exercises, Randy Brown felt a buzz on his wrist. His Apple Watch confirmed to him what he already suspected: his UFC fight was being postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Oh great,” Brown said. “I finished the set anyway.”
Brown, who grew up in Queens after emigrating from Jamaica and now lives in Lynbrook, was scheduled to face welterweight Vicente Luque at UFC Fight Night on April 11. The card first was moved from Portland, Oregon, to the UFC Apex in Las Vegas before being postponed entirely shortly after the Nevada State Athletic Commission banned all combat sports until its March 25 meeting. Travel restrictions and bans on large gatherings also added to the postponement of this and two other fight cards (March 21 in London and March 28 in Ohio) so far. (UFC 244, scheduled for April 18 has been moved out of Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, with no word on when or where it may take place.)
Brown took the news in stride.
“It is what it is. If it’s postponed, we just continue to work and we'll come back,” Brown said. “The worst thing that can happen is they give me more time to prepare.”
His bout against Luque represents an uptick in Brown’s profile and opponent level. Luque (17-7-1) is ranked 13th in the UFC welterweight division and had built himself up with a six-fight win streak and a chin as powerful as his hands. The Brazilian had his win streak ended last November by Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson at UFC 244 at Madison Square Garden.
Brown (16-3) stopped his last two opponents, one by TKO and one by submission, and has won three of his last four bouts.
“This would have been my opportunity,” Brown said, “I would have been able to take his spot or be somewhere in the top 15.”
What happens next remains unclear — for Brown, for this particular fight, for this fight card and for the UFC in general. With more than 30 fights already postponed, there’s almost no way they all stay intact as scheduled. There will be changes made. Just nobody knows when.
Brown said he’s not feeling a financial squeeze yet. He also said he’s not prepared to accept just any fight offered. He prefers to face Luque still, or someone ranked in the top 15 so that a win could move him closer, or into, the rankings.
One thing was clear for Brown. This is not a time to chill and forget about putting in the work.
“Everything was just coming together, the peak of camp,” Brown said. “I'm still trying to stay optimistic and stay ready, just because they said postponed or canceled, so I'm still trying to stay somewhat in shape.”
Brown said he continues to train, whether that means running on the treadmill at his home, or going to his training facilities at Budokan Martial Arts in Lynbrook and Bellmore Kickboxing MMA. Given the nature of MMA training, its close contact with people and the amount of sweat that seeps through multiple T-shirts, Brown said he is keeping his training circles small. Still, the spread of the coronavirus is in the back of his mind.
“I'm just not going to live my life in fear and stop living my life either but obviously I'm not going to be careless and put myself in an irresponsible situation,” Brown said. “I'm still trying to do what I need to do, you know to make my money and put myself in the best position that I can make my money regardless when everything snaps back.”