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Brian Campbell on hitting ‘rock bottom’ & his ‘life-changing moment’

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Morning Kombat and State of Combat host Brian Campbell discusses his life.

Brian Campbell has an infectious energy that quickly captured the MMA hardcore, but that exuberance for life and fights was forged in a dark place.

Campbell appeared as the sophomore guest on Bloody Elbow and MMA Mania’s six-part interview series The Insiders (video above). The Morning Kombat and State of Combat host opened up about how his formative years nearly ended him — and how a brush with fate gave him renewed purpose.

“I knew the excess of life that was dragging me down, but I knew in those moments I was powerless to stop it. I watched my life sort of crumble. There are different versions of suicide. Some people take their lives, other people give up. I certainly gave up for many years. I figured it was going to end somehow. In that moment, to literally know we’re closing in on the end. I’m not in good shape. I’m doing bad things in my life. I’m struggling with my job, I got a crappy apartment, I don’t have any money. I’m a deadbeat,” Campbell spoke candidly. “All these things were coming to a head at 25 years old, a quarter-life crisis. To be able in one moment to know, to have it transform and now that you’re loved and there’s a larger plan. It’s incredible. I am very, very lucky to be here. To have the understanding in life that I do. Many people I grew up with went down certain roads that I could have and should have. For me, knowing that I was closing in on the end and I had no control over it.”

“It was a rock bottom turn in my mid-20s where I couldn’t get away from a rock star lifestyle,” he stated. “A life and a career going nowhere in a crappy apartment at the end of a broken relationship. It’s either gonna end soon or something’s going to happen.”

Campbell was raised “distant Catholic” but strayed from those practices in his teens and early 20s.

“In my hour of despair I leaned back on all those years of Sunday School and I was just like, ‘Okay, if this is real, happen now, cause it’s not going to get any better now. It’s only going to get worse. Right now, this is turning point. If you’re real, be real in this moment,’” Campbell shared. “I could write a book or write a movie script on what actually happened next. The physical transformation in the moment. The voice I heard, as audible next to me saying ‘it’s over. It’s all over.’ This was in a car outside of a concert in a parking lot. You can imagine what’s going on in that car. From that moment forward, November 28th, 2003, no one had to tell me, ‘Okay, you’re Christian now. You follow Jesus Christ.’ It’s not like it’s something I bought into. It was just for me, something that I knew in that moment that all the bad things in my life that had followed me, that I had been unable to defeat, they were gone and they were gone like that. There’s something magical there. That’s a life changing moment.”

That abrupt and emphatic 180-turn in Campbell’s life has had a profound impact on his work. Campbell in many ways exudes a fight fan’s spirit on a professional stage. He said he is “just happy” to be involved. Well, his audience is surely “just happy” to have him.

Timestamps are below for the video above:

2:05 - Relationship with Luke Thomas
5:55 - Comedy and Cancel Culture
9:42 - Leaving ESPN
13:27 - Pros & Cons of ESPN in MMA
18:32 - UFC vs. MMA Media
21:25 - What is MMA Media Lacking
25:36 - Why Fans Blame Media
29:45 - Brian Campbell & Religion
35:42 - UFC vs. WWE vs. Boxers
39:32 - Brian Campbell’s Comprehensive Guide to Cutting Hair in Quarantine