The stunt-journalism powerhouse known as VICE magazine has launched its own MMA site called Fightland, which features the kind of on-the-scene video profiles and thought-provoking prose that we’ve come to expect from that crew. In particular, we recommend their new interview with Jonathan Brookins, who was just submitted by Dustin Poirier at the TUF 16 Finale. Short version: We’re going to have to start preparing a “And Now He’s Retired” post for this guy, because his days in the sport might be numbered. Here’s what the former Ultimate Fighter winner had to say about his fateful meeting with “The Diamond” and the uncomfortable realizations he made that night:
“It’s not hard to make a career in the UFC. If you really want it, you can make it happen. I think I just talked myself of really wanting it. I don’t know if I talked myself out of it or if I really don’t want it anymore. That made it tough to keep going and to fight last weekend. I didn’t really have much fight left in me. I kind of hit a dead end.
I definitely had my mind on other things I wanted to do and pursue. I just stopped believing in the fight business and stopped believing in what it was I was even doing. I just didn’t quite understand. There wasn’t much that I wanted about that (Poirier) fight…This quest to be a fighter has gotten to be frivolous, to be the wrong pursuit. I know it can be pursued the right way, but I know I’m not anywhere close to it. I’m not really down to live this temporary, right-now way of life…
Before the fight I came in a little bit overweight. Mostly because I was bounding around a lot – living in Oregon then New York then Montreal. But everything was real sporadic. So I was cutting weight, and I went to a bikram yoga class, something I do all the time. This was Wednesday, and the weigh-in was Friday. I started to get real dizzy after running that morning and sitting in a salt bath and then the yoga class. I got dizzy like I was going to pass out. By the end of the class, I was cramping up. My feet were cramping. By the end of the class I think I hit severe dehydration. My legs cramped up really bad. I couldn’t move. I was exhausted, like I was going to die. My neck, back, and chest all cramped up. I felt tired and weak. I started throwing up all night and was real sick.
I thought about quitting the fight. I was dehydrated, but I still had six or seven pounds to lose. Everything was all off. So I was asking myself, “What do you really want out of this experience?” And all I could think about was going to India. You already know you fucked your body up; there’s no way you’re going to recover fully in just a couple of days. Why would I go ahead with the fight instead of asking to reschedule? Then I thought about going to India in January. That was loud and clear.
At the weigh-ins, I could see myself on the Jumbotron. I was like, “Shit man, you look kind of pathetic. You don’t look like you’re ready to fight; you look skinny.” The kid (Poirier) walks up to me after the weigh-ins and gets in my face and says, “I want it more than you.” All tough guy: “I want it more than you, bro.” I was like, “What the fuck? How does this kid know he wanted it more than me?” It was an interesting thing to say but it was really true. It was the weirdest true shit-talking I’d ever heard in my life. Usually people just talk shit and you’ve got a rebuttal. That was the first time it really made me think.”
If that all sounds familiar, maybe it’s because our writer Elias Cepeda discussed the exact same thing in his Travel Chronicles series: Once your mind starts seducing you into quitting — with the lures of distant adventures and the release from physical pain — you might as well tap right then, because the fight is already lost.
Elsewhere in the Fightland piece, Brookins talks about losing his house in Orlando because he couldn’t afford the payments, and how he’d be “open” to not fighting again, if his trip to India leads him in that direction. Check it out.