UFC Newcomer Brian Melancon Says Win Over Seth Baczynski is “Validation”
By Kelsey Mowatt
After not competing for nearly two years, Brian Melancon certainly did his best to reintroduce himself to fans at UFC 162 Saturday night, by stopping accomplished vet Seth Baczynski in the first round. The bout marked the first time Melancon had competed since September, 2011, when he handed Felipe Portela a unanimous decision loss at a Strikeforce Challengers card. Clearly the layoff wasn’t an issue.
“It feels great. I feel very blessed to be able to train with the people I’ve been training with for a long time. My teammates and I built everything from the ground up and a lot of us are getting some national recognition now,” Melancon said while appearing on the latest edition of Full Contact Fighter Radio. “So it feels very good; I guess I would use the term validation.”
The 31 year-old Melancon has now won back-to-back bouts, since he dropped a split decision to UFC vet Isaac Vallie-Flagg at Strikeforce’s “Overeem vs. Werdum” event.
“We’ve always felt like we belonged and we just wanted the chance to prove it,” the Paradigm Training Center fighter noted. “I feel like I was blessed enough to get the chance, and it feels great to get the win.”
After Melancon defeated Portela, scheduling issues and injuries prevented the fighter from competing for Strikeforce over the coming months. The Texas fighter also had a large wedding to pay for, so Melancon decided to return to his career as a physical therapist to help pay the bills. Despite the fact he received a promotion not long after and was overseeing several clinics, Melancon left the door open to a run with the UFC.
“In December of last year they mentioned it to me and I talked with my wife, thought about it for a couple of weeks, and then I decided this is the only goal I set out for in MMA,” Melancon relayed. “I had to go ahead and give up everything to go for it.”
Due to the fact Melancon had yet to compete in the UFC, and had not fought for sometime, likely some people were surprised when the promotion announced he would be fighting Baczynski. Although the “Polish Pistola” was coming off a unanimous decision loss to Mike Pierce, prior to that Baczynski had won six straight, which included impressive victories over Matt Brown and Simeon Thoresen.
“No. Throughout my career, if you go back and look at my opponents, I’ve always sought out the absolute best competition I could fight at the time,” Melancon said, when asked if he was surprised the UFC elected to match him up against an established vet in his Octagon debut. “So I’m used to fighting guys with three or four times as many fights as me. I’ve had that happen quite a few times, and this is the UFC…it’s not about trying to build a career it’s about seeing if you belong.”
“I think it was a good chance for me. I looked at it as more of an opportunity rather than ‘oh they’re throwing me against the wolves,” the 7-2 fighter added. “I respected Seth a lot, I knew he was going to be a tough opponent, and a quality fighter, so I prepared the best I could.”
Despite the fact the 5’8 tall Melancon was much shorter than the 6’3 Baczynski, the fighter was able to land several hard shots, before the fight hit the mat.
“It’s actually kind of funny I’ve been preparing for tall guys the entire time I’ve been training,” said Melancon, who finished Baczynski off with punishing, ground-and-pound strikes right before the opening round ended. “When I first started training and I joined a gym, I was like a heavyweight. I was 220 pounds, a big powerlifter, so I started sparring with heavyweights and 205’ers…I’m used to reach. It’s not really something I have to focus on, as every sparring day I have to spar with at least two or three guys who are over six foot tall.”