Featherweight Prospect Derek Brenon is Looking for Redemption
Before his fight in November, Derek Brenon was on everybody’s radar. “Switch” was coming off a win at LFA 22 aired in the U.S. live on AXS TV. He was ranked #19 FloCombat’s North American Prospect Rankings at featherweight. MMA Today’s Shawn Bitter featured him in Weekly Prospect Report ahead of his fight while his opponent, the champion, was a footnote. Everything was more than fine and dandy. Then he suffered his first career defeat.
“I learned a lot from that last fight,” said Brenon.
It was a fight that saw a lot of firsts for Brenon. Normally very calm and professional, Brenon dipped his beak into trash-talking in order to build up the fight. Brenon wanted to fight Justin “J-Train” Gonzales earlier in the year but couldn’t get the fight because promoters felt Brenon wasn’t a “big enough draw.” This time, he wanted to show he was the right choice for the main-event spot.
“That fight was offered to me earlier in the year and I wasn’t able to get it because not enough people knew who I was, not enough people knew my name out here” (in Colorado, Brenon is originally from New York), said Brenon. “So I didn’t bring a big draw. And I knew talking shit and pushing the boundaries a little bit was going to get me that fight. The trash talking isn’t an avenue I typically go to, I just wanted that fight super bad so I felt I had to talk a little shit along the way.”
Sparta Combat League, who put the fight together, went all in on the promotion. Inviting the fighters to the cage during a previous fight. The interview was in front of many of the champion’s fans, and Brenon took advantage of the moment to hit the “J-Train” with the first verbal jab amid boos from the crowd.
“Me and Justin on paper are pretty identical,” said Brenon. “Both undefeated, both good wrestlers, both good grapplers and willing to stand there and trade with each other. The only thing that makes me different from him is I finish fights and he doesn’t. Expect the finish.”
The Face Off between Derek Brenon and Justin JTrain….go #teambrenon! Please share to show Derek some North Country support!!❤️
Posted by Lisa Steria Brenon on Saturday, October 14, 2017
It didn’t stop there as there as the promotion brought the two together again for a video interview a week or so out before the fight. There, Brenon had to be held back after Gonzales jabbed back.
This made for an exciting build for the fight as emotions were high for all involved. Reflecting back on it, Brenon felt that it affected him in the cage as well and his emotions got the better of him.
“I think the hype got to me a little bit, said Brenon. “I was a little nervous, a lot more nervous this time walking up to the cage. I don’t know really what the nerves were about. I’ve competed against high-level competition before. I talked a lot of smack this time and I knew I had to back it up. I think that played a factor in it.”
Hype wasn’t the only factor Brenon faced leading up to the fight. Early on in his camp, he was rear-ended in his car and had to rehab his neck. “I had a neck injury and a back injury,” said Brenon. “I had to really focus on not hurting it and getting it worse than it already was.”
It was a learning experience not only outside the cage but inside the cage. Brenon sprained his ankle during the fight and for the first time felt uncomfortable in the cage. “I remember a specific point in the fight where it started to slip between my fingers. In the second round I tweaked my ankle and then he had me on my back and he was throwing kicks, he wouldn’t let me up.”
“I just remember I took everything in. I took the crowd in, the crowd roaring, my ankle was a little tweaked up.”
“It was the first fight where I’ve actually felt really uncomfortable. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to pull it out or not. I wasn’t able this time around. I’m glad I felt that feeling/emotion this early in my career because it’s going to help me. I’m going to have those emotions again, especially if I keep climbing the ladder.”
Now after reflection and some time off, Brenon is turning the page and moving on to his next fight on March 16, 2018, against Jake Heffernan, for Paramount MMA. And for him it’s a redemption fight.
“I don’t want that to be the last taste people have of me as a fighter, going out with a loss,” said Brenon. “I’ve worked my ass off since that fight to work on what I needed to work on and come back even better. March 16th you can expect a good fight.”