Randy Brown was a diamond in the rough.
Of the prospects to emerge from the original run of Dana White’s “Lookin’ for a Fight,” few remain. Most of the alumni from this precursor to the Contender Series became cogs in the machine, thrown into deep waters to sink or swim before eventually assuming the role of cannon fodder for established names on their way out the door.
Not Brown, though.
Following a regional performance that impressed the likes of White in 2016, Brown dove headfirst into the UFC’s welterweight division and taught himself to swim. Six years and 14 fights later – including co-main event duties at UFC Vegas 61 – Brown is primed to ascend into the welterweight rankings, and has already issued a challenge to Michael Chiesa.
So what makes this 32-year-old different? Like his peers, he followed a similar path and stumbled along the way – more than once. Unlike his peers, he’s managed to succeed by actually practising that age-old cliche of learning from his mistakes: Brown has never dropped two fights in a row. Each of his four defeats have forced evolution and then more wins.
Sixteen professional MMA victories in total, including his defeat of Francisco Trinaldo at UFC Vegas 61 earlier this month.
“It’s funny,” Brown told The AllStar after that bout. “People get to see this because I’m learning on the job in the UFC. You guys got to see me learn on the job right? A lot of people say that but I truly mean that. You see me get better every time.”
Most fighters will parrot a similar line: “I’ll learn from this.” It’s an often-used throw-away phrase used to show humility in the face of defeat, but Brown exemplifies this mantra.
He’s improved after each of his defeats. Since his most recent loss to top contender Vicente Luque in 2020, Rudeboy’ has recalibrated and rattled off four straight wins.
The proof was in the pudding during his most recent outing. Despite having hurt the crafty Trinaldo in the opening round, there was no haphazard rush to finish the fight. That’s a lesson Brown says he took away from a bout with Brian Camozzi in 2016.
“I hit Camozzi with an uppercut and he got wobbling – I just completely lost my shit and I just ran at him you know?” Brown recalled of the contest. He threw a lazy flying knee only to miss and get caught in a clinch while his opponent made a full recovery. Brown would go on to win that fight, but the experience left its mark on him.
Brown would put those learnings from Camozzi and his nine subsequent fights to good effect against Trinaldo, the veteran Brazilian with a decade of UFC fight experience. Landing 20 more significant strikes against Trinaldo, including a knockdown in the process, Brown managed to engineer a three-round decision victory.
Now with the addition of Daniel Gracie and Marquez MMA (home to Sean Brady & Andre Pertoski among others), Brown has the backing of a solid team to underpin his willingness to constantly adapt and take stock of shortcomings.
The two-hour drive each way from New York to Philadelphia is a small price to pay to overcome the detractors. Brown understands that.
“I never let anyone tell me anything. I continued to get better every single day, regardless of any stumbles I’ve had.”
As for his next opponent, Brown has a firm view on that one too, and it’s a ranked fighter: Chiesa, who has a similar record to Brown’s, and who is currently ranked 12th among UFC welterweights.
“I think a fight with me and Chiesa would be nice,” Brown said. “I think that’s a fight that makes a ton of sense.”