Brendan Schaub’s New Lease on Life

Fightland Blog

By Peter Carroll

Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

Brendan Schaub had the MMA world speculating his potential move down to 205 lbs for quite awhile. Posting pictures through his various social media outlets, an obviously leaner version of the TUF 10 cast member was noted by many, and on last week’s Fighter and the Kid podcast Schaub confirmed his plans on dropping to light heavyweight.

“The plan is 205 and I will fight in 2015,” said Schaub on his podcast on March 27. “Potential matchups? No clue, no idea. I’m sure you guys have a better idea than me.”

Schaub was thrust into the limelight via The Ultimate Fighter: The Heavyweights, the most viewed series in the history of the reality platform, back in 2009. Going into the show with a record of 4-0 the former professional footballer’s athletic ability and developing skillset were enough to see him through to the final against Roy Nelson, despite having only taken his first pro fight 17 months before the TUF Finale.

Nelson on the other hand was already a bona fide professional and had been linked with a move to UFC before appearing on TUF. The IFL’s heavyweight champion, a black belt in jiu jitsu with an overhand right that could knock out an elephant, there wasn’t much of a surprise when ‘Big Country’ took the victory after his money shot connected just shy of the last minute of the first round of the finale. 

Again, after the loss to Nelson, ‘Big Brown’ proved his worth with four consecutive wins under the UFC banner. Two back-to-back first round KO wins over Chase Gormley and Chris Tuchscherer set up a litmus test for Schaub against Gabriel Gonzaga and the Colorado-born fighter answered by claiming a decision win.

Gonzaga would be the first veteran that Schaub faced, and maybe the fact that he was constantly put up against fighters who are considered legends of the sport worked against him as he climbed the rankings. After losing to Frank Mir in his second stint with UFC, the majority of fans wanted nothing more than to see Mirko ‘Cro-Cop’ Filipovic bounce back with a highlight reel knockout of Schaub when they met. However, it was Schaub who buckled the great Croatian in the third round of the 2011 meeting.

Schaub was dealt an even tougher hand after his victory over Cro-Cop when he was given the unenviable task of being the first man to take on Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira in front of the Brazilian’s home crowd. Schaub went out of his way to speak about his passion for jiu jitsu before he met the legendary submission specialist. The American was even filmed visiting the favelas in the lead up to UFC Rio, where he handed out free training gear to children.

Catching his opponent with a flurry in the first round, Nogueira took one of his most iconic wins at Schaub’s expense that night in Rio. ‘Big Brown’ took another loss to Ben Rothwell directly after the Nogueira bout before he went on two-fight win streak with victories over Lavar Johnson and Matt Mitrione. The wins over Mitrione and Johnson framed an appearance at Metamoris 2, another episode that would hinder the public perception of the heavyweight.

Meeting one of the modern greats of the game at the no gi jiu jitsu event, leg lock master Roberto ‘Cyborg’ Abreu, Schaub’s reluctance to engage the Brazilian was heckled by the spectators throughout the contest.

“If you look at Cyborg’s video…(his opponents) let the crowd pressure them, then they make mistakes—this guy is taking a leg home,” said Schaub at the Metamoris 2 post-event press conference. “Hate to tell you, but I make a living in the UFC so the situation where he would take a leg home was not going to happen.”

Since then, things have been on the up for Schaub. Through his podcast The Fighter and the Kid, which he co-hosts with talented comedian Bryan Callen, the UFC fighter has proven to be hilariously funny, intelligent and he has also showcased his story-telling ability. Similarly, Schaub’s appearances on The Joe Rogan Experience have changed a lot of fans’ tunes when it comes to their idea of him.

After Mitrione, Schaub met another legend of the sport Andre Arlovski in June of last year. Arlovski took a split decision win in what was a forgettable encounter. Given the opposition, Schaub’s fans might not have been too audible over the Arlovski faithful on the night, but certainly when he met Travis Browne six months later a surge in Schaub’s popularity was evident.

Despite the now infamous loss to Browne, Schaub may be more popular than ever. With Joe Rogan dressing down his friend live on his podcast, which beamed around the world to hundreds of thousands of fans, who picked sides of the argument. With Rogan insisting that Schaub wasn’t able to mix it with the other fighters at the top of the heavyweight bracket, many rallied behind the TUF: Heavyweights alum in support.

Three months later Schaub has announced his intention to drop down a weight class, and it may well prove to give the 32 year old a new lease of life under the UFC banner. Although there will be the added stress of a weight cut for him, the fact that he won’t have the biggest men in the organization throwing bombs at his head might make them extra minutes in the sauna worthwhile for ‘Big Brown’.

We have seen the success a lot of fighters have had by dropping down a weight class in the past and at a lighter weight we can certainly expect a quicker moving Schaub which could certainly be interesting if his proven KO power translates to 205 lbs.

Schaub is more popular than ever and although there were some who hoped that he would take Rogan’s advice and bow out of the sport, there seems to be twice as many people eager to see how he will fare in a new weight class. 


Check out these related stories:

Joe Rogan Keeps It 100 With Brendan Schaub

Why Fighters Don’t Really Care What We Think