I remember in 2012, sitting down with my wife at our family home. I told her, “If I lose again, I’m done. If I lose one more fight, I’ll hang ’em up, I’ll just train for fun, and I’ll just work and show the love for my family.”

She wasn’t real happy when I told her that. She’s quickly said, “Don’t think those thoughts.”

I guess for her it was about pushing that negativity to the side.

I don’t know what was going through my mind.

You know, I just knew in my head, that the point that my career was in, it was all or nothing.

As it turned out, I won the next five fights straight and really established myself in Australia.

It took me a long time to build myself, because there was period where there was literally only a couple of lightweights floating around.

And with my record, I’d had 18 or 19 fights and was looking for fights in Australia; there were dudes with only two or three fights.

It wasn’t the best. It just depends on what kind of person you are, but there’s some guys out there that’ll fight those guys with two or three fights and keep building that record up until the UFC signs them, but that’s not really who I was, or who I am.

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So it was really difficult for me to find fights at one point and that’s why I started going to Asia and Europe, because the fights are endless once you go over there.

It was hard initially, but the more I fought overseas, regardless of the results, the more recognition I received.

At one point I won fight of the week, five consecutive times.

Today, life is very different.

As many of my fans would know, I graduated into the UFC but the “kings of the fight game” recently released me in the middle of my injury rehab.

When you’re injured it’s hard to get picked up by promotions because you can’t sign… when you’re injured they won’t provide any medical clearances or waivers.

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That has been the hardest part about being released from the UFC… not being able to sign with someone else, therefore it increases the amount of time that you’re a free agent and the longer you have to wait, the harder it is to get back in the fight game.

I’m not signed with anyone at the moment but I’ve got a few things going on, so I’m keeping in mind offers that are on the table.

I kind of saw it coming with the UFC though.

Historically, if you lose two in a row they get really hesitant. If you’re not an established name, you’re coming from a long way back.

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Generally, if you go down on your sword, you need to just throw everything into it and make a fight of it and if you lose, they’ll give you another fight, but unless you’re an established name, once you’ve lost two in a row, you need to win.

So I sort of knew when I lost that last split decision there was a high chance that the UFC were going to release me.

I half-hoped once the UFC opted to pay for my surgery there might be a glimmer of hope.

I kind of just thought that there was a bunch of things pointing towards maybe getting another fight, but I guess in the back of my mind I did kind of expect that I might have been on the chopping block.

A lot of people think that they didn’t resign me, but in actual fact I had two fights left in my contract and they just released me.

There’s no pressure quite like being in a performance-based industry like the UFC.

It’s relentless, because like there’s pressure in every single fight… not just to win, but to earn future opportunities in the fight game.

So any contract, and I’m pretty sure that 99% of the contracts are the same, there’s a single clause in all our contracts that says the UFC holds the right to release you after any single loss.

They can technically release you after a loss, whenever they want, even if you are in contract.

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They do the right thing though! They always give bounce back fights. Sometimes Dana White and the UFC will give you three draw cards.

If you’re an established name, you can kind of lose like three or four in a row before they get rid of you, but no one’s ever lost five in a row and come back, so a couple of guys have lost five in a row and they are released with notice.

It’s hard because guys and girls never fight freely in this industry.

But here I am, doing whatever I can do to be one of Australia’s best fighters.

I started martial arts as a kid and then through my early teens.

It was like a massive passion, my parents used to take me to the local gym once a month and I’d compete in tournaments.

It was a massive part of my childhood.

I started kickboxing, and I had two amateur kickboxing fights after twelve months and then I had a mate talk me into doing Jiu Jitsu, which at the time I wasn’t a massive fan of.

I wasn’t super keen to wrestle, but he just talked me into it.

It was about probably six weeks or so, I did couple sessions a week, and then he said to me, “You want to have a fight? I could set something up in six days?”

I was looking forward to it, but it was such short notice, I was in the army and they wouldn’t give me time off, so we flew down to Queensland and fought that night.

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Fighting that guy really ignited the fire for Jiu Jitsu, he pulled a guard on me and swept me straight to the ground. There was absolutely nothing I could do.

I felt embarrassed; it was demoralising to know that someone could do that to you.

I told myself I’m never gonna let that happen again.

It was a good learning curve and it kick started an addiction to get better and about three months later I had a pro fight and I won it.

I went 6-0, the fire was well and truly lit by that point.

That’s when I took up fighting professionally.

I went from spending five nights a week at home after work, to spending five nights a week at the gym for up to two hours for the first couple of years, it was something new and you could see results.

And then you go through periods where you lose a bunch of fights in a row, it’s like, “Well how much longer are we gonna do this? I’m sacrificing a bunch of time,” and I couldn’t stand that.

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But my amazing wife always stood behind every single decision I made and supported me.

My wife is not one to shy away from sharing her opinion, so, we certainly talked about things pretty openly over the years.

I probably speak for all athletes, but I think it’s almost harder on the partner than it is the person, because it’s our passion, it’s what we do and we wouldn’t have it any other way, but it’s not their passion and it’s not what they do.

I’m sure if she had her way, I’d be at home every night with the family.

But it’s been hard, we all work but then I go train for two hours and that’s how you get your training in and how you get your fights in.

Maybe, one day, you’ll reach a whole other level, where you can probably take time off and quit your job.

I never quit my job, I’ve got mortgages and all that stuff, so for me I had to take 8 weeks off for every fight, to get ready for it and make sure I’m in optimal shape to perform, but then I went back to work.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - JUNE 11: Damien Brown of Australia prepares to enter the Octagon before facing Vinc Pichel in their lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at the Spark Arena on June 11, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – JUNE 11: Damien Brown of Australia prepares to enter the Octagon before facing Vinc Pichel in their lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at the Spark Arena on June 11, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

These days I work as a correctional officer, and the support from them has been great. They give me time off when I need it, as long as it’s within reason and it doesn’t clash with anything that they need to do.

I always make sure they’ve got enough notice so they can cater for my time off, and I take it all off without pay, so it was never a problem for them.

It never cost the department money or anything like that, but it gave them time to make sure they could backfill me and all that sort of stuff.

They were pretty happy to work with me that way, and that’s what we did for my last five UFC fights and that worked out really good.

Every single time I was in the shape of my life and it was amazing, and that’s what I am working right now to get back.

The fight game hasn’t seen the last of me.