October 15, 2019
Eight months ago, Sean Brady was preparing to defend his Cage Fury Fighting Championship welterweight title — and add another win to his undefeated professional record — in front of a hometown crowd in Atlantic City, but even he couldn't help but think about the possibility of an even bigger fight in front of an ever bigger crowd in Philly.
"I think I belong in the UFC," Brady told PhillyVoice back in February. "And, personally, I think that after this fight, this performance I know I'm going to have, I'll prove that I belong there. But it's going to come when it happens. You know, I would love to jump on that Philly card that's coming up, but I have a tough opponent and a tough fight scheduled for [February 16th] so I've really only been focusing on that. I don't try to think about afterward.
"But I know what caliber of fighter I am and everybody I train with and know, they know where I belong. So, it will happen. I just have to keep doing what I'm doing and it'll come to me."
Brady wasn't wrong.
After successfully defending his title, the 26-year-old Burholme native got the call he had been waiting for — the one telling him he'd earned a spot in the world's biggest MMA promotion, the UFC. And with a fight in Philly right around the corner, everything seemed to be working out as planned. He was also the last hope for a Philly fighter to be on that card, something that seemed like a no-brainer for UFC, and sources even told PhillyVoice at the time that Brady would make his debut in Philly.
Unfortunately, for a few different reasons, that ultimately fell through, and Brady will instead make his UFC debut on Friday night when he faces Court McGee at "UFC on ESPN 6: Reyes vs. Weidman" in Boston, which will air on ESPN2 beginning at 6 p.m.
Despite the eight month layoff between fights, Brady sounds more than ready to step up onto the sport's biggest stage.
"It feels great, man," Brady (10-0) said on Tuesday, just a few days before making his debut. "It's the UFC, it's the big stage, but it's just another fight, you know? I've just got to go out there and do what I've done in my last 10 pro fights, and that's win. And that's what I plan on doing Friday night. Obviously there's going to be some nerves with it being the UFC and all that, but it's all the same when you get in there, so I'm ready to go ...
"It's another guy, you're in the cage, and you've got to fight. It doesn't matter if it's in Boston, Philly or an alleyway — a fight's a fight, and I'm ready to fight."
You know, your next opponent is always your toughest, hardest fight... but I know what I can do and what I bring to the table. I know I can be a world champion and I will be. Court's just my first step to get there.
Brady's opponent is fellow welterweight Court McGee (19-8), a 34-year-old veteran with nearly a decade of experience in the UFC since winning The Ultimate Fighter back in 2010. Since, he's had an up and down career, going 7-7 in his 14 UFC bouts following his victory in the TUF Season 11 finale, including losses in three of his last four fights.
Still, Brady knows better than to sleep on his first UFC opponent, even if he has every expectation that he'll take care of business this weekend.
"He's definitely my biggest test," Brady said of McGee. "You know, your next opponent is always your toughest, hardest fight. I know Court's tough. He's been around the block — he's fought and beaten some of the best guys there are — but I know what I can do and what I bring to the table. I know I can be a world champion and I will be. Court's just my first step to get there."
So what does the undefeated welterweight expect from McGee in his debut — and how does he plan on stopping him?
"He's a grinder. He's tough. He's durable. He can take a beating and he can give one, so I've just got to be ready to give it and not receive it," Brady said. "I'm ready for a war. I'm ready to finish him. Whatever I have to do to win the fight, that's all that matters to me...
"I think I'm better than him standing, I think I'm better than him on the ground. And I'm ready to beat him wherever the fight goes. Whatever happens, I'm ready for it."
One thing that will be different for Brady in this one — aside from the UFC logo on the octagon mat — is where on the card his bout will take place. As an undefeated Cage Fury champion, Brady had become accustomed to being the last or second-to-last fight of the night. On Friday, his fight is much, much earlier in the night. And that may actually help him deal with the nerves that come with a fight of this magnitude.
"It's fine with me. I get to fight and then I'm done," Brady said. "Back with CFFC, I'd have to wait until the end of the night, watch my teammates fight, watch other people fight, win, lose. So [this time] I get to go in there and fight — I'm the third fight of the night — and then I'm done. There's not to much time to overthink it while I'm sitting in the back. I go in there, get my hands wrapped up, and then I'm going to fight."
A lot of people wanted me on that [Philly] card, but it didn't work out. It's all good... I've brought Philly to Boston, so it's going to be just like I'm home.
After eight months of waiting, it's no surprise Brady is champing at the bit to get back in the octagon.
Before getting the call up to UFC, Brady said either way he was going to be at that March UFC card in Philly, the first in his hometown since 2011. And, despite being unable to get a fight lined up in time, he still took in the action with friends from the stands at the Wells Fargo Center.
In hindsight, he thinks that's probably for the best.
"Fighting in Philly would've been cool, but the circumstances weren't the best," Brady said, adding that he'd obviously still like to fight in his hometown. "It was three weeks [before the fight] when they called me, and if I were to fight, there were a couple little injuries [from my last fight]. And I just think fighting at home, there would've been a lot of stress, being the hometown guy, so I think it worked out better me fighting in Boston. I think it was a blessing in disguise."
So instead of bringing the fight to Philly, Brady opted to bring Philly to Boston for his UFC debut.
"A lot of people wanted me on that card, but it didn't work out. It's all good," Brady said. "I'm in Boston, I've got my whole team here, my girlfriend, my training partners, my friends, and my whole family comes in this week. I've brought Philly to Boston, so it's going to be just like I'm home."
And with several hundred Philly fans expected to make the trip to Boston to watch Brady, it's certainly going to sound like home.
Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports