Perth, Australia is a long way from New York, and everywhere Randy Brown has gone this week, he’s been asked about his opponent’s homefield advantage Saturday at UFC 284. And with good reason.
There’s fighting in someone’s backyard and then there’s walking into the lion’s den. In order to illustrate the type of hometown support Jack Della Maddalena will boast during their main card slot, allow us to paint a quick picture.
Flashback to UFC 221, February 2018. It’s the UFC’s first visit to the city, the most remote industrialized city on the planet. In order for the broadcast to take place at normal times in the Western Hemisphere, the doors open to Perth’s RAC arena at 6am on Sunday morning.
Despite the ungodly start times, the beers are flowing and nearly every seat is full before the first of a dozen fights gets underway at 7am local time. The event has just begun, and it’s already as loud as any pay-per-view you’ve ever been to anywhere in the world. In short, Australian audiences are just built differently.
Extrapolate that scenario to this coming weekend, and we can expect that early rising, sold-out crowd to be near-feral by the time Brown takes to the Octagon in the middle of the main card. If that weren’t intimidating enough, not only is his opponent an Australian, but Della Maddalena is literally from Perth, a proud city whose international athletes are few and far between. Oh, and he’s one of the UFC’s fastest rising stars, undefeated since 2016. You can almost bet the farm that announcer Jon Anik will be barking out one of his trademark, “This place is deafening!” exclamations when the local boy makes his walk.
It's intimidating just to think about, let alone experience. But not if you’re Randy Brown. Not only does he relish the role of spoiler, he knows that fighting at home isn’t always the blessing it seems to be. Yes, you can wake up in your own bed, but, “It's a massive pressure. All your friends and family are there. You don't want to lose in front of your wife, your kids, your teachers, and everyone that knows you.
“I don't really worry about the crowd when it comes to that,” Brown continues. “They can't fight for him. Who will fight for them? I got to fight, you know? I'm not really worried about that. But I am excited that the crowd is there, and I am excited that they'll be cheering loudly during my fight. It makes the moment that much bigger.”
Conversely, if you’re a stranger in a strange land during fight week, “You get to just hang out and train. Normally there's nothing that's going to inconvenience you. You'll be at your best…you'll be at your prime.”
Prime Randy Brown is a force to be reckoned with. Winning six of his last seven—and four in a row heading into Saturday—he’s been a consistent problem at 170 pounds since entering the promotion in 2016.
“I attest my consistency to my work ethic. Discipline. I'm actively seeking to evolve, I'm actively seeking to get better. I take inspiration from guys like Charles Oliveira…people who have stumbled early on but then found success later. They showed up every time and they still gave it 100% every training practice. They did everything they could. They cut no corners. They stumbled and they said, ‘Okay, dust myself back off and approach it 100% again.’ And look where they are today.”
After nearly six years in the trenches with more success than setbacks, he’s more than ready to move past being a problem in the division and start being a contender, which makes this bout with an unranked newbie like Della Maddalena something of a risk.
“I think sometimes you've got to be twice as good. That's just the nature of the world. And sometimes you just got to go out there, remind people. I think this is one of those situations where it's a shiny new toy. So everyone's impressed right quick… which is well deserved. I think he's pretty good.
“But don't forget, I'm still here. Maybe I'm only as good as my last fight. Maybe people see the last fight wasn't really a great performance. It was a W. So they kind of think that this new guy is going to come in and just run through me. But it's my job to come back and remind them.”
At all turns, “Rudeboy” is respectful and complimentary when it comes to his opponent. But does he feel all the hype is warranted?
“Yes and no. And here's why: I think it's just the nature of the sport. When we see a guy come in and fight these guys…he hasn’t really fought anyone of my caliber yet, right? So he's supposed to do that to those guys. And he looks good doing it, which is admirable. So I get it. I get everyone being excited about what he's done, the way he's done it. Those first-round finishes, those are impressive, for sure. I'm impressed. But also, like I said, the guys that he fought, he should be doing that to them. If I fought those guys, I'd be doing the same thing.”
We’ll find out Saturday, or course, but win, lose or draw, Brown knows one thing: you won’t be forgetting about him.
“I'm in it. I'm fully resolved. If I got to go out there and die on my shield, I'm going to go out there and die on my shield. Not just for this fight. I'm saying in general: this has been my walk. This has always been my life. I’ve given it all 100%, have dedicated my entire life. Fighting and combat sports have engulfed me. This is who I am. There's nothing else. There's no partying. There is literally nothing else. I do all the right things, and it’s only going to pay off.”
UFC 284: Makhachev vs Volkanovski took place live from RAC Arena in Perth, Western Australia on February 11, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive all the action on UFC Fight Pass!