David Estrada, Jr.
The Port Arthur News
Two weeks ago The News ran a piece about Port Neches-Groves High School graduate Brian Melancon fulfilling a dream by fighting in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Last Saturday the Southeast Texan expanded on that delivering with a victory demonstrating dreams within a dream can be euphoria.
This week we followed-up with the now local hero to share his thoughts from the experience.
Melancon faced UFC veteran Seth Baczynski in the Las Vegas UFC 162 event. Baczynski was 4-1 in MMA's pinnacle promotion, the UFC, and defeated some internationally respected fighters such as Matt "The Immortal" Brown. Asked if Baczynski's track record affected his mindset going into the bout Melancon responded, " No. If you look at my record I've fought guys with sometimes two, three, sometimes four more times the fights I've had. I looked at it as an opportunity; there was no fear or trepidation."
The hype hits a fever pitch during pre-fight introductions led by Bruce Buffer. When asked about his feelings right before the bout Melancon stated, "I felt calm and took it all in and enjoyed the moment." He took on the stoic demeanor of one of his MMA idols, Fedor Emelianenko.
Brian Melancon may have been outmatched by size and UFC experience, but his victory wasn't a fluke. He read his opponent and tailored his fight accordingly. "I saw how he (Baczynski) was using his range and noticed he was not using it as well as he could," Melancon revealed. "There were holes where I could get in and counter what he was doing. I felt in control. I started mixing it up going for his body and kept him guessing."
The climax of the bout came with the ten second clap indicated there were only ten seconds left in the first round. Melancon stood over Baczynski who was laying on his back. He avoided Baczynski's upkick attempts and discovered a hole in his defense. After Baczynski's reaction to Melancon's repositioning revealed he was not defending properly, Melancon rained down with a left from above.
"I threw it in there and it landed flush. I saw that it knocked him out and I flurried with punches to show the ref he was out and that was the end of the fight." Melancon said. "There's no feeling in sports like finishing an opponent in front of thousands of screaming fans. There is no adrenaline rush like it. This is most thrilling competition, that's why I do it."
The beauty of Melancon's victory is that it occurred at 4:59 into the five-minute first round. It was a knockout with only one second to spare. Being in the second bout of the event, it was being broadcast live on Facebook online. The relatively short bout enabled it to get slipped in and aired on the nationally televised FX broadcast.
"I started getting texts from people; my phone was blowing up with over a hundred different text messages." Melancon chuckled. "A lot of people saw it on Facebook and texted me 'Congratulations' then later on I got another rush of them saying they were watching it on FX."
Post-fight medical examinations are required by the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts. Injured fighters receive medical suspensions until they're properly healed and cleared to fight again. Brian Melancon left UFC 162 relatively unscathed with no medical suspension meaning he's eligible to fight at any time.
This fact begs the question – Will Melancon be able to fight at the big UFC 166 event this October in Houston?
As if he hasn't fulfilled enough dreams as it is, Melancon beamed when questioned about the possibility. "Oh yeah, I already asked to get on that card. I texted Joe Silva (the UFC matchmaker) the night of the fight. I told him I was healthy and Houston is my hometown and I grew up around there. If you need 170'er (welterweight) I'm in on that card."
Melancon received a positive response, but no commitment from Silva who stated he could see what he could do and commended him for an awesome fight and great job.
Houston or not, Melancon still has three fights left in a four-fight contract with the UFC and will be slated to fight in the Octagon again. Southeast Texans now have one of its own to pull for and to dream vicariously through.
David Estrada Jr. writes about mixed martial arts for the Port Arthur News. He can be emailed at DavidEstrada@DavidEstrada.com