When every new season of The Ultimate Fighter rolls around, there are always people who find themselves disappointed. Some don’t make the initial cut, which leads them to question whether they are doing the right thing with their life. Others will find their way onto the show and believe that their life is in store for some big changes, only to fade into obscurity after not doing well enough. Then there are others, who use the platform as a springboard for their careers. After two false starts, that’s exactly what has happened for Marcus Brimage.

“The reason that it happened was because I was on another reality show on BET called Iron Ring,” Brimage explained to The MMA Corner. “That show was highly criticized for setting mixed martial arts back, but I’m glad I did it because I got the exposure and was able to be in front of TV cameras and having them all in your face and all of that. From that [show], the producers [of TUF] saw I could fight, so that was not a question. So, they wanted me to come in to see if I had the personality to go with The Ultimate Fighter, and I did. It sucked, because I got a knee injury that sidelined me for two years and I was supposed to be on the one before that, too.

“After my two-year injury, I fought a guy named Kyle Bradley. It was like his UFC rebound fight—he just got cut from the UFC. And I was coming off a two-year layoff, and I was fighting a guy who just got put out of the UFC. Through luck and through God, I was able to knock him out and was able to win my first fight after two years off against a UFC vet. After that, I moved to American Top Team to further enhance my career in MMA and I got a call saying that the UFC was looking for featherweights and bantamweights and if I could go. I was like, ‘Hell yeah!’ and they flew me out and they didn’t even interview me. They were like, ‘Are you healthy? Are you not bullshitting?’ and I said I was good, and they told me I was on the show.”

After starting his professional career in the lightweight division, Brimage made a change to ensure that he could be successful within the confines of the UFC’s Octagon. It wasn’t an opponent that made Brimage decide to cut down to featherweight. Instead, it was a teammate.

“Gleison Tibau,” Brimage said. “I was fighting at [155 pounds], and I remember I was at American Top Team and they said, ’55ers get on the mat.’ So, as I’m walking, I see Gleison Tibau step out in front of me and I remember thinking to myself, ‘What the hell?’ [laughs] ‘This is the biggest 55er I’ve ever seen in my life, what the hell is this?’ I looked at my roommate, and I was like, ‘Yo, dawg, if anybody asks, I’m a 45er.’ Jesus, Gleison Tibau is huge.

“When I was on Ultimate Fighter, I was pretty ignorant of the weight-cutting process. And when I was on the show, I learned a lot about weight cutting from [Michael] Bisping and his team. When I was on the show, John Dodson told me I was actually a 35er, and I was like, ‘You can kiss my ass, I’m 45.’

“After the show, I started cutting weight. Like, the first time when I fought against Stephen Bass, I made the mistake of cutting too much weight and I was walking around at [143 pounds], and I fight at 45. I felt great. After that, the weight cuts just came too easy and I was up there laughing at other people, and I remember Brad Pickett—after one of his weight-cutting sessions—he looked straight up like he came outta chemotherapy. He was just like rolling around. One of my coaches at the time said I was having too much fun during my weight cut, and he said that I should probably go down to 35, because I shouldn’t be this happy during a weight cut, which is true. Like, my opponents, they don’t look that intimidating during the weigh-in, but then the next day I’m like, ‘He was not that big yesterday!’ [laughs].”

Recently, Brimage joined forces with Charles McCarthy and Guardian Sports Group to lead his career in the right direction. It’s a relationship that he certainly hopes to see blossom.

“When you’re looking for a management company, everything has to fit,” Brimage said. “Having a good management team is just as important as your camp and as the people in your corner. [Guardian Sports Group] isn’t as illustrious as the other companies that I’ve been courted [by], but it’s simple. You know, I’m from Alabama, so I’m gonna keep it simple. Charles McCarthy is a good guy and, personally, I think he’s my Jerry Maguire [laughs]. Everybody wants a Jerry Maguire.”

After suffering his first loss in the UFC, Brimage now eyes a new challenge in a new division. Dropping down to bantamweight is the change in landscape that has made him even more excited about his fighting career.

“You know, I never wrestled. I always played football; I ran track my whole life. And after a while, when you’re a short person, you just get used to being short. Everybody’s just taller then, so it never dawned on me that I could drop weight and people would actually be my size,” Brimage admitted. “It’s just a whole new experience that I’ve never had. I remember, starting off, I was fighting against grown men, and the average weight was like 170 and 155. So I’m up here banging out with them my whole career and now I’m gonna be fighting against other 135ers, and it’s like night and day difference. I was the shortest featherweight on the UFC roster. You see, I’m only 5-foot-4, and me coming out 3-1 in the featherweight division, where I had no advantages at all—I mean my height and weight—now I’m dropping to 135, and that speed and power, it’s not going anywhere. If anything, I’m gonna get faster, and I’m more confident.”

It is the “Ultimate” goal of all fighters who join the UFC through it’s reality television series to go on and become a champion within the organization. After all, that’s what it’s all about—winning a contract and making dreams come true. Brimage’s journey in the UFC went off without a hitch, but one small setback has seen him re-evaluate how his dreams are going to come true. The bantamweight division is a new journey for Brimage, and it’s one that he thinks will finally lead him to the very real possibility of holding a championship within the UFC.

Marcus would like to thank Guardian Sports Group and American Top Team. Follow Brimage on Twitter: @Brim205

About The Author

Staff Writer, Australia

Located in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Neil Rooke has been writing about the sport of MMA since 2011. In the past, Neil has written for Cage Junkies and has written for Fight! Magazine as well as Fist! Fight Magazine. Neil is also a regular contributor to Fight! Magazine Australia and Yahoo! Sports Singapore.