UFC Shut Down Matt Brown’s Walkout Song

Fightland Blog

By Dan Shapiro

Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC

A heavy jam, with a mix of down-tuned, crunchy guitars, breakneck, double kicks, harmonic twin leads, and Jamey Jasta’s soaring, throaty vocals over the top, “The Immortal” is the sonic embodiment of Brown’s fighting style. But there’s just one problem. The UFC doesn’t want you, or anyone tuning in to next week’s UFC 189, to hear Brown’s custom track.

“[Jamey] wrote me a walkout song … he’s a huge UFC fan,” explains Brown. “I just told him I always tried to walk out to Hatebreed, but the UFC won’t let you, for whatever reason.”

Brown has always been one of MMA’s more prolific proponents of heavy metal. A “technical brawler,” as Bruce Buffer likes to refer to him during pre-fight introductions, Brown’s walkout playlist has, in the past, included tracks from Avenged Sevenfold and Saliva. And earlier this year, after meeting Jasta through a mutual acquaintance, Brown commissioned the tune for his UFC 185 bout against former champion Johny Hendricks.

However, just one day prior to the event, the promotional brass informed Brown that they were scrapping his musical intro.

“I pick my walkout songs that are pretty specific to the fight, something to me personally for that particular fight,” offers Brown, who’s in the final preparations for his UFC 189 matchup against Tim Means. “There’s a reason why I pick that song, most generally … the day before [UFC 185], [the UFC said] we’re not gonna use your Jamey Jasta walkout song that was written specifically for you, so you need to come up with something else.”

This isn’t the first time the UFC has barred a Jasta-penned track from the arena. Jasta, and his long-running metalcore outfit Hatebreed, previously attempted to sponsor middleweight Chris Camozzi back at UFC 158. But at the eleventh hour, the band’s music, along with their placement on the fighter’s in-cage banner were rejected. Little reason was provided.

As of today, however, any debate over sponsor banners becomes moot, with Reebok set to dominate all apparel and fight week branding. But what place does walkout music hold in this Reebok era, especially when fighter entrances are never even broadcast on FOX and FOX Sports 1?

There is the obvious, deductive reasoning that the UFC does not want to proliferate messages of violence and hate speech to its growing, mainstream audience. But it’s not as if Brown is requesting the skinhead-themed lyrics of Skrewdriver. He simply wants to hear the chorus of I am the immortal / All that’s born of sacrifice / I am the immortal / Persistence personified, words that specifically reference his gutsy, no-quit style.

“Personally, I don’t see myself as having a brawling style, I think I have a pretty technical style,” comments Brown. “For each walkout I’ve ever done I could sit down and explain to you the actual reasoning behind it, and it’s usually much more than it gets me pumped up.”

Pre-dating his run inside the UFC and a stint on The Ultimate Fighter’s seventh season, Brown has had a lifelong passion for metal music. He’s a rabid fan of bands like Down, Kingdom of Sorrow, Arch Enemy, Sevendust, Sepultura, Soul Fly, and Pantera, the latter of which holds a special place in his own heavy metal lore.

On December 8, 2004, three-and-a-half years prior to his UFC debut, Brown was taking in a show by Damageplan, the side project of Pantera guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott and drummer Vinnie Paul, at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio. Head banging near the front of the crowd, the unflinching Brown was caught off guard, when former Marine Nathan Gale opened fire, killing four people inside the venue, including Abbott, one of metal’s most revered six stringers.

“I saw pretty much the whole thing from beginning to end … I was right there, probably 20 feet away when it happened,” recalls Brown. “At first that I thought they stabbed “Dimebag,” so I seen some people running and I seen others just trying to stop in their tracks … I just started hearing the gun shots and realized, wow, something crazy’s happening and I started to run. I actually turned around and faced him and said to myself I’m not gonna get shot in my back running away from this guy. I went behind a concrete pole and watched them fire shots off in the crowd. A guy two or three feet from me got shot in the arm … I just seen the blood go, he didn’t die though … I came back in and seen “Dimebag” laying there with his guitar.”

The event sent shockwaves around the metal community. One of the genre’s finest was murdered on stage, while one of MMA’s soon-to-be most feared played witness. But as metal fans are known for being diehard, Brown never reconsidered his love of razor sharp, chugga-chugga guitar wizardry and blistering drums. Never.

Less than four years removed from “Dimebag’s” tragic death, Brown co-starred on the reality airwaves, creating his own legend as a skilled mixed martial artist with loads of intangibles like heart, drive, and endurance.

“It changed my life 100-percent,” offers Brown. “My life was headed one direction and it did a completely different direction. I haven’t looked back since. I’m thankful for everything I have right now due to that show. That’s where it all started, and I try not to forget about that.”

Following his stint on TUF, Brown accumulated a lukewarm 5-5 record inside the Octagon. Rumored to have been cut from the UFC roster (an unsubstantiated claim that circulated the Internet in 2011), Brown then rattled off seven-straight victories, six of which came via KO or TKO. It was one of the more impressive runs in recent memory, and by mid-2014, Brown solidified his place in the welterweight division’s elite, earning a title-eliminator bout against Robbie Lawler in the process.

The fight against Lawler would ultimately end Brown’s run, and the matchup with Hendricks earlier this year would make it two straight in the loss column. But much like the words of Jasta’s “The Immortal,” which continues I’ve taken the bad with the worse / I’ve seen the gifts I lift the curse / Rip the roots of doubt from the ground / Take what’s mine the time is now, Brown has moved on from his brief flirtation with failure, and is looking to resurrect his run towards the title at UFC 189.

“Unfortunately, in my last fight … I don’t think I showed my full potential … both the losses I don’t think I had anything to be ashamed of, and I don’t think I showed my best in those two fights” comments Brown. “I never lost any vigor at all, I never lost a step … I try to approach each fight as we’re starting from a fresh slate … I don’t see any reason I can’t beat any person in the world in this division.”

For his upcoming bout against Means, Brown has, as always, stayed near his roots in Xenia, Ohio, where he partakes in occasional training sessions with former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett. The American mid-west has not only proven to be an ideal base for Brown’s work ethic, but it also defines his gritty fighting style.

“All the fighters I know from Ohio are generally more humble than the other places, especially when you go east coast and west coast,” offers Brown. “West coast [guys] are a lot of egos, and think that they’re entitled. I feel like a lot of them take this more as a business than as a martial arts journey … the Ohio guys are humble, down to earth, and just work hard.”

These are the very attributes that Brown has made his hallmark inside the Octagon, and they’ve found a literal lyrical home in Jasta’s words: Knowing my deeds will get their chance to speak / Days are drawing closer / My emotions running colder / Grateful in every step I take.

And while Brown remains adamant about his pursuit to play his theme song inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena on July 11, he also understands that the fight is was truly matters. Still, he wants to hear his tune.

“I don’t know what the deal is … I wish they would let me play my damn song.”


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