, Port Arthur, Texas

July 2, 2013

PN-G graduate headed to fight at UFC 162 in Vegas

Gabriel Pruett
The Port Arthur News

GROVES — A vast majority of teenage boys in high school dream of one day competing at the highest level in a sporting event. It might be the NFL or the NBA or the MLB.

One local man is getting to fulfill his dream this Saturday and it will take him to one of the world’s most famous venues. This dream will take Brian Melancon inside an octagon and staring into the face of a man looking to knock him flat on his back.

Melancon, a graduate of Port Neches-Groves High School, will take on Seth Baczynski in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) undercard Saturday at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. The fight will be shown on the UFC’s Facebook page at around 4 p.m. Saturday. There is a chance depending on the length of the first few fights shown Saturday night on Pay-Per-View that Melancon’s fight will be aired on PPV.

Melancon has been a fan of the UFC since he was 12 years old and watched UFC 3. He watched Royce Gracie defeat Kimo Leopoldo with an armlock submission.

He decided that night one day he would fight in the UFC.

“Fighting in the UFC was really my only goal when I started out in MMA,” Melancon said. “I feel a part of my goal is finished and now I want to finish the other part with a win.”

Melancon has not fought since Sept. 2011 when he defeated Felipe Portela with a round three decision.

He was then set to fight once again with the Strikeforce organization yet an injury kept him out of the fight. Melancon then was married to his wife, Michelle, in Sept. 2012 and got a job running four clinics as a supervisor. He sat back, enjoyed married life and his new career.

The UFC gave Melancon a call in December 2012 after it bought out Strikeforce earlier in the year and was looking to bring in a few of its former fighters.

“It actually took a while to accept the fight,” Melancon said. “I thought about it with my wife and finally decided it would have been pointless to have this dream and not take this opportunity.”

So now the quiet young man from Groves will step into the Octagon and try to prove himself to Dana White, the president of UFC.

“I have always been competitive in everything I do,” Melancon said. “I needed something to fuel that fire after school so I got some instructions and started to teach myself. After that it all started to snowball when I joined a gym. I don’t look at this as fighting. This is a sport for me and it is a competition.”

So what is it like standing in an octagon and realizing people paid good money to watch the person across from you try to knock you out or make you submit?

“For me I am never nervous or angry or distracted,” Melancon added. “I always stay calm and realize I have done this 1,000 times in the gym. Everything blacks out and I have no thoughts except for what I am focused on during this fight. It is a job and to me it is just like every other sport I have participated in since I was a kid. There has never been a better feeling for me than when you knock someone out. It is amazing.”

One thing the 170-pound Texas native will change this go around is to enjoy the moment before the fight instead of waiting until after he is done competing against Baczynski.

“I am always so focused on the goal of winning I have never took a moment before the fight and enjoyed the moment,” Melancon said. “This time I am going to make sure I enjoy a moment or two when I step into the Octagon. I just want to enjoy the ride and have a little fun out there.”

Melancon is 6-2 coming into this fight while Baczynski is 17-7. Baczynski is seven inches taller than Melancon, standing 6-foot, three-inches.

“I am used to that since I am only 5’8,” Melancon said. “His reach will be a little longer than mine but thankfully I am built like a gorilla. I have trained with guys taller than me my whole career. I will be used to that. Seth is a well-rounded fighter. He is a scrappy guy and is tough. It will be an exciting fight.”

Melancon also wanted to make sure everyone knew he was fighting for a reason this Saturday. He will fight for the cause named Fight for the Forgotten.

His friend Justin Wren started the movement to help free Pygmies slaves in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Fellow countrymen call the Pygmies half man half animal and have been slaves for years. They have also suffered cannibalism.

“They are an enslaved race in the Congo,” Melancon said. “They are treated like animals and we want to work to free them. Justin is actually going to the Congo, which is a very dangerous place to be, to help set them free. I only want to raise this issue up so everyone knows what is going on in other parts of the world.”