My Day in Columbus with The Immortal One

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 by Tony Reid

Our trip started in eastern Pennsylvania Sunday night as we headed west slicing through West Virginia and finally to Ohio, specifically Columbus, Ohio. We made it just in time to crash for the night at the local Red Roof Inn before preparing for our full day with the Immortal one himself, Matt Brown.

We were up and out the door by 8am headed to Galloway, Ohio which is about 5 miles outside Columbus and where Matt, Colleen, Hunter and Connor Brown reside. We were greeted at the door by the kids, who informed Colleen that “Tony and a lady in a pink shirt were here.”

We were greeted by the Brown’s German Shepard Harley. It is well known that Matt is a Harley Davidson guy, even recently receiving a motorcycle of his own, and I joked that the dog Harley was big enough for the kids to have a Harley to ride around the house. Matt isn’t the only one on the house in training mode, the ten month old dog Harley is still being trained and is a big fan of sharing his enthusiasm (and fluids) with anyone that comes to visit.

As Colleen made breakfast for the kids and Matt pounded protein shakes I noticed a number of computer printouts hanging around the downstairs of the house intended to keep Matt in the right mindset and constantly focused on the task at hand. From “Fight Smart” to “Eat Clean” hanging on the cabinets in the kitchen to the picture of Robbie Lawler hanging on the back of the Brown’s front door that states “I Will Defeat Robbie Lawler on July 26th”.

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Matt also has an interesting and unique way of getting the ever elusive goal of a perfectly clean blender. He simply adds dish soap and hot water and literally blends it. I joked that we could do a special technique section in the magazine for blender cleaning with Matt Brown.

As we hopped in Matt’s big black Jeep Wrangler to get in his first workout of the day, a 9am strength and conditioning session at the legendary Westside Barbell, Matt told me that those little notes hanging around the house keep him focused and that they act as motivational tools, whether it’s consciously or even subconsciously. Colleen joked earlier that Matt is getting tired of seeing the same old played out phrases and is tempted to change them up a bit.

Matt had been a bit under the weather and had to pull back a bit as far as training was concerned. He was in the process of bringing his trusted coaches and allies in for the camp for the biggest fight of his professional life, the five round main event of the UFC Fight Night card on July 26th in San Jose California televised live on FOX against Robbie Lawler set as a title eliminator in the welterweight division.

We hit Westside Barbell at 9am and Matt wasted very little time in getting down to business. He began with some band resisted running on a treadmill, he added a number of intense ab work, and throw in some weighted walking around the parking lot of the entire facility, and a few special techniques and an hour and a half later the Immortal’s morning session is complete.

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Westside Barbell is the mecca for lifting heavy things and putting them down. They are the standard by which all others are measured in the field of power lifting. They hold countless national titles and world records, as well as housing and honing a number of high performance athletes in other sports. MMA legend Kevin Randleman spent time there and is still revered by many at the gym.

Westside Barbell is to power lifting what the UFC is to MMA, Westside is a private “Invitation Only” elite training facility in Columbus, Ohio. It was created by world-renowned power lifter Louie Simmons. Louie is one of only five power lifters to total Elite in five different powerlifting weight classes. He has been a top 10 lifter for over 30 years. For the last 37 years Simmons has totalled Elite in various power-lifting organizations. He is one of two lifters over 50 years of age to squat 920 pounds, bench 600 pounds and dead lift 722 pounds and total 2100 pounds, and was ranked 4th nationally in 2000 in the open. In other words he is a total beast. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to speak with the icon that is Simmons, and as he stood there post workout with fresh blood on his sneakers, he raved about Brown and what he is capable of currently and in future potential.

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As Matt’s training session was winding down I decided to hop in and get a crash course and some firsthand experience of what his training is all about. After a few ab exercises, a run on what Matt called a torture device and lastly a few go rounds on a device that was invented by Louie himself I found myself in the parking lot praying to all that is holy that I wouldn’t pass out in front of one of the toughest SOBs on the planet. My prayers were answered and after a cup or two of water I was good to go.

We left the gym and met up with Colleen and the boys for a much needed lunch at the local Applebee’s. It was great seeing Matt go from beast mode to daddy mode and interacting with the kids. Brown plays a fun little game with his son in which he asks the obviously cheery, happy, playful young Brown if he’s mad until well, the little one gets mad. Colleen jokes that Matt finds great pleasure in instigating the kids in this fashion and that it should be noted in the piece.

We finished lunch and Matt and I made a quick run to Lowe’s to in the attempt to find an outlet or cord that would do the trick and help to finish installing the recently purchased sauna in his basement. On the way to Lowe’s Matt made it a point to inform me that he enjoys making trips to the local Wal-Mart, which he calls the trashiest Wal-Mart on the planet, to people watch. The odds of seeing mullets and worse are very high at the Georgesville Wal-Mart in South Columbus according to the Immortal. Even during the trip to Lowe’s Matt was no nonsense. I doubt that any of the Lowe’s associates knew how close they were to greatness, or possibly death, if the part in question was not found. Luckily we got assistance from a friendly associate and headed back to the house to finish the job. This was the first time in a long time that Brown was unable to finish the job. Even the Immortal was not comfortable working with electricity, at least not outside the cage.

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I did inadvertently uncover the one weakness of the seemingly weakness-free Immortal. Matt is a complete impulse shopper. He jokingly said had I not been with him for the ride to the home improvement store he could have easily spent hours and hours looking around and eventually picking up unneeded goods. The need to shop applies not only to hardware but to speakers, headphones and anything else Brown feels the need to pick up in the moment.

Speaking of finances we visited on the day that Matt opened the mail to find his bonus check from his Fight of the Year performance against Erick Silva. We were all sitting around the table as he opened it and it became obvious what was inside the envelope. I purposely looked away until he put it in my hand, and in that moment I held in my hand the biggest check I had ever seen in my life. It was still a moment of joy yet reflection and introspection, the Browns were very happy to have the money but just as quickly to note that the next check is never promised and that God forbid, this could be a check that needs to last an extended period of time if an injury or unforeseen obstacle was to present itself.

Matt has had his eye on an RV type of luxury vehicle, (somewhat) joking that he might be able to finally make that purchase a reality. It was clear that a number of ideas, thoughts and concerns were running through his mind in the hours after opening the mail that day. Brown is a very well read, introspective, thoughtful man. We talked at length about politics, religion and finances. He is a deep thinker and it was obvious that he wanted to weigh all his options, do the right thing and make the most of this money and opportunity.

As our day with the family wound down we all sat in the living room and Matt proceeded to instigate his son into one more “Are you mad?” game. This time around the younger Brown go the last word, asking in an increasingly agitated voice “Do you think you are tough?” That great comeback wasn’t lost on anyone in the room as we all broke out in laughter. Connor and Hunter Brown are probably the only two people in the world that could get away with asking that question while being in the same room as Matt Brown.