If you think Sean Brady was upset about missing Thanksgiving in order to train for his Saturday bout against Kelvin Gastelum, then you don’t know Sean Brady.
“I don't get to eat any food, but I had a good practice this morning, so I'm just relaxing now,” said Brady at 1pm on turkey day, a moment when most of the United States is getting ready to sit down with family and eat like fat kids for a couple hours. That’s not the story for prizefighters who have to make weight for a trip to Austin, Texas before stepping into the Octagon in nine days. For most, it’s a bitter sacrifice to be made in the name of glory, but Brady wasn’t sweating it.
“I've fought so many times or had fights scheduled for this timeframe, so I've been doing this my whole career and it's something you get used to,” he said. “And listen, Thanksgiving isn’t all that it’s cracked up to me. (Laughs) I'm a Christmas guy. I want to be eating Christmas cookies and watching Christmas movies and relaxing. So if I have to miss Thanksgiving to get Christmas, I'm all for it.”
And truth be told, if the Grinch stole Christmas from the Philadelphian so that he could return to the Octagon, he would be just fine with that. Because for Brady, all that matters is getting back to work and erasing the memory of the lone loss of his pro career to Belal Muhammad in October of last year. Add in a couple of injuries, and it’s been a long 2023 for the 31-year-old.
“It was a hard year for me, but I think it was one of the most beneficial years,” Brady said. “I think it was probably the most beneficial year of my career just because of how mentally strong I've gotten in the last year dealing with a lot of the things that I've dealt with. And yeah, it's hard sitting out, but there's a lot of work that's been put in and it definitely wasn’t going to go to waste. And like I said, I was really working on my mental game when I couldn't be working on my physical game. So I'm always trying to get better and there's all kinds of different ways you can be getting better and you don't have to be in the gym. But now I'm healthy as can be, I'm sharp as can be, and I'm looking forward to getting back in there.”
Brady has only had one night when he wasn’t sharp. And in this game, it happens. With five UFC wins included in his 15-0 record, Brady was moving fast in the big show before he ran into Muhammad in Abu Dhabi and was stopped in the second round. It stung, for sure, but he knew that he would be back.
Sean Brady Fight Week Interview | UFC Austin
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Sean Brady Fight Week Interview | UFC Austin
“It's funny, I put so much pressure on myself before I lost that I thought that whenever I did lose, if I happened to, that the world was going to end and it was going to be the worst thing that ever happened to me,” said Brady. “And yeah, don't get me wrong, it sucked to lose, but I lost because I beat myself mentally in that fight. I kind of quit on myself when things weren't going my way, even when, looking back, I was fighting a really good fight. I should have just stayed the course I did, but I lost. It happened. But when it was over with, I realized that, hey, it's not the end of the world and, no matter what, my family's still going to love me. And that actually is very freeing to know I can go out there and really fight the way I want to fight and whatever happens, happens, instead of being so concerned with just not losing my undefeated record. So now I feel like I can truly go out there and show the fans and the company and everybody who I truly am.”
That’s not a pleasant prospect for anyone who has to meet Brady in the middle of the Octagon, but I get the feeling that Gastelum, who is making his return to 170 pounds after a long stint at middleweight, is down for a dogfight if what’s expected to happen does happen in Austin on Saturday. And Brady feels the same way.
“Kelvin's super tough and he's super durable,” he said. “The only times he's ever been finished were by submission. He's never been knocked out, he's been in a bunch of amazing fights, and yeah, I know that I'm getting ready for what could be a long 15 minutes, but that excites me. And I also feel as if I have the skills on the ground to finish him, as well. So, whether it's a submission or it's a dogfight, I'm there. I'm there to win it.”
And then some Thanksgiving leftovers (uh, maybe not) and some Christmas cookies (definitely)?
“That dried Turkey ain't doing it for me,” Brady laughs. “So I'll be crushing the Christmas cookies, for sure.”
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Maybe 2023 wasn’t a bad year after all.
“It's been a tough year, but it's been a great year, and I'm going to end it on a high note,” he said. “I'm only getting one fight in this year, but it's going to be a very important fight for my career and I think it's going to be the best fight of my career.”
UFC Fight Night: Dariush vs Tsarukyan took place live from Moody Center in Austin, Texas on December 2, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!