It's amazing how MMA can come full circle and produce opportunities even in the face of adversity. For the recently re-signed Charlie Brenneman, that moment is being experienced. Almost four years ago, he fought a young Welterweight named Jason High, who happened to be making his UFC debut. After a hard fought decision, Charlie's hand would be raised in victory, and High would receive his walking papers in the days to follow.
Brenneman would go on to fight seven more times over the next 18 months, finally being cut himself after going 3-4 in those fights. He went back to his team and with their guidance, came to the conclusion that 155 pounds was a better fit for his future. The UFC has a pretty good ‘keep the door open' policy, and in just 16 months, he has found his way back to the house that Zuffa built.
Jason High also found his way back into the UFC ranks, having been signed in January of 2013. He went on to fight three times in less than six months and is 2-1 since his return. He was scheduled to meet UFC newcomer, Beneil Dariush at Fight Night 35, but as fate would have it, he suffered a ruptured appendix on New Year's Day, and subsequent internal infection.
High's departure from his scheduled bout would be the vehicle by which Brenneman would have his second UFC debut. Despite the fact that his loss came to be Charlie's gain, the two will most likely never face each other in the Octagon again, being that they're in different weight classes now. It was an unfortunate twist, but one that Dariush will benefit from, as he too fights at 155, only taking the fight with High at 170 to secure a spot on the roster.
In a recent interview with Bloody Elbow, Brenneman discussed the comfort he's found at Lightweight, his opponent's grappling versus his own and the changes in his life that have been having positive effects, both in and out of the Octagon. Here's what he had to say:
Finding His Rhythm At Lightweight
It really is the best fit for me, both physically and psychologically. It's night and day compared to fighting at 170. When I was at Welterweight, first thing I would do, is see the guy and size him up; shoulders, legs, hips, arms. At 155, that's not even an issue. I don't care how big a guy is at 155, because he's not going to be nearly as big as the guys I was fighting at 170. Just that in itself is a game changer.
Everything has changed now. Since I cut to 55, I don't let myself walk around any higher than 75, and that's in the morning when I wake up. If I find myself a few pounds over 75, it's because it's Christmas. Generally, it's anywhere from 72-75.
I don't think it's going to be a big thing. I weighed less today than I did two weeks before my last fight. No weight cut is ever fun, and you always hope that it goes as well as possible. From the starting point, I'm actually on par with where I've been at this point in my last weight cuts.
I don't know what type grappler he is in the cage. I know he's a black belt and I know that he's done really well in gi competition, but until you grab hold of a guy, you never know what you're in for. My first fight was against a black belt, 23 or 24 fights ago, so I have a good idea what I'm in for.
I'm aware of the risks that are there and I've watched enough video on Beneil to know that he has certain tendencies, but I feel it comes down to the offensive mindset that I have, especially now that I'm at Lightweight. I have the advantage of experience, too. I have a bunch of fights and he doesn't. I think that, in itself, will probably be more of a factor than anything else.
When I was first presented this fight, I was told that he was a BJJ guy that had turned to MMA. Then, I watched his films and I thought, ‘Those kicks look pretty hard.' This is not your typical BJJ guy that has one skillset when he comes in. This guy looks like a legit martial artist, so I'm training for him as such. You can't treat him like some kid who got a lucky shot, because nobody knows how good he is. I've got to take this seriously.
The Winds Of Change
My wife and I had our first baby this past year, and we bought our first house. Those aspects of life outside of fighting have progressed very well.
Fighting-wise, I've refined a few things, but nothing really dramatic. I'm still training at AMA Fight Club, but I have added a new coach, a former fighter and black belt named Brian McLaughlin. He's a tremendous coach, who is fantastic at teaching BJJ applications specifically for MMA fighting.
I've been doing a lot of privates with him, and the change in me has been dramatic. I would say my last two submissions are a direct result of that. That's the biggest addition to my training.
My whole mentality has changed. I'm a lot more mature, and because I've been in the UFC before, this isn't as overwhelming for me. Obviously it's awesome to be back, but I'm not starstruck by it. I feel like it's where I should be because it's the right time, and I plan to take full advantage of it.
You can follow Charlie via his Twitter account, @SpaniardMMA