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The Life of Brian

20/09/2011

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BRIAN FOSTER sets out on a new journey in London next week at Cage Warriors 44.

His destination is a familiar one – the UFC – where he’s clocked up a 3-2 record since September, 2009. Almost a year has passed since his last fight, a second round submission victory over Matt Brown at UFC 123 in Michigan. Ahead of a scheduled bout with Sean Pierson at UFC 129 back in April, Foster was on the receiving end of a powerful kick to the groin, which resulted in a burst testicle that later had to be removed.

Nevertheless, Foster’s preparations for the Pierson fight resumed until he underwent a medical examination two weeks prior to the event. Tests revealed the presence of a brain haemorrhage and he was subsequently removed from the card.

Thankfully for the Oklahoma native, further investigation would eventually clarify that it was a minor issue. However, given the severity of both setbacks, one can assume Foster gave consideration to drawing a line under his career in the cage.

“Not fighting was never an option for me and it never will be,” he insists, dismissing the notion of waving the white flag. “It doesn’t matter what happens to me, I’ll find a way, whether it’s legal or not. I’m a fighter, that’s what I do.

“But it was a big deal when I found out about the brain haemorrhage. It caught me completely off-guard. The weird thing about it was that I never felt any different. It was something I couldn’t feel or see. It wasn’t so extreme that it would need surgery but it needed time. When you’re as impatient as I am, time is something you don’t like to waste.

“I trained really, really hard for four months for that Pierson fight. That’s the longest I’ve ever trained for a fight and I was in amazing shape. That fight would have ended very quickly. So I did four months of training, then I got the call to say there was a problem and things went downhill from there.

“It sucked. I can’t not fight. Since I was a kid I’ve had anger issues, insecurities that stem from the way I was raised. But when I started fighting in 2006, that kind of became a form of anger management for me. It cancelled out my anger and made me a better person, a more humble individual. I no longer had that chip on my shoulder as if everybody was out to get me.

“I’ve come a long way since then, so not being able to fight for nearly a year, you can imagine how difficult it’s been and the state of mind I’ve been in. I’ve got a short fuse so little things started to aggravate me.”

While doctors were unable to get to the bottom of what caused the brain haemorrhage, Foster has his own theory. “They couldn’t tell what the cause was but I believe it was from training,” explains the 27-year-old welterweight.

“I started to get a little cocky towards the end of my training camp and I stopped wearing headgear so I could get my movement a little better. I took a hard shot to the head and I had the MRI scan the next day, which showed the brain haemorrhage.”

Just over a month ago, Foster (15-5-0) finally received definitive medical clearance to return to the cage and he’s wasted no time, securing a 181lbs catchweight bout with Jack Mason (17-8-0) in London at Cage Warriors 44 on October 1. Having been medically released by the UFC, Foster is desperate to prove that his enforced absence hasn’t had a detrimental effect on his ability.

“I’ve been hitting it hard since the doctor told me I could,” admits the Hit Squad fighter. “We knew that I’d be fighting at short notice so I’ve been preparing like I would for a UFC fight. Taking fights at short notice is no issue. For me it’s more mental than physical.

“I’m fighting who I have to in order to get back into the UFC. That’s all I care about. I belong fighting against the best guys in the world. Not fighting at all doesn’t sit well with me. But now I’m getting a second chance so I want to do it right and make the most of it.

“The UFC has got to want somebody like me, who’s not scared to fight anybody. The UFC likes me, I know they do because they’ve told me. I don’t communicate directly with them. That’s done through my trainer, Marc Fiore. But it is what it is now. There’s no pressure, I’m loving the situation I’m in so let’s see how it plays out.

“I love to fight, it’s who I am. It means a lot that Jack Mason has stepped up to take this fight so I’ve got to give him credit. I praise him for that because I thought it would be kind of hard to find an opponent for me.”

Mason believes he can cause an upset at the HMV Forum but according to Foster, that’s wishful thinking on the part of the 29-year-old Chelmsford man. “It’s a losing battle for him. I don’t know him as a person, I don’t know him as anything other than a business opportunity for me, but he’s in trouble.

“He hasn’t fought the calibre of opponents I’ve fought. Our styles differ because I’m far more aggressive. He fears aggression. Anybody who’s beaten him has been really aggressive.

“If he keeps his hands up and his chin down he might make it past the first round. Otherwise it’ll be a very early night for him. I’m a finisher. Once you close that door behind me, I take in all my aggression and all the bad energy I have inside me. It’s a hulk of a situation. Can he handle it? No, he can’t.”

A major influence on Foster’s career as a fighter has been his younger brother, Brandon, who died in 2006 after a 250ft fall during a hiking trip. Brian was with him when it happened.

“I got really angry after my brother died. People started to worry about me and question whether I was going to start getting into more trouble. Then I bumped into a bunch of guys I used to wrestle with and they had been training in mixed martial arts.

“They invited me to join them, I went over there and I never left. My brother’s death was a turning point in my life. I knew I needed to do something so he became my inspiration and also my motivation. I’ve grown from it.”

Ahead of his bout with Jack Mason at Cage Warriors 44, Foster arrived in London on Sunday and has been training at the MMA Clinic in Angel.

“I’ve heard good things from a lot of people about Cage Warriors. It seems to be a fighter’s show and I can feel the good energy about it. It’s my first time in London too and I love it here. It’s a beautiful place. If I ever get an opportunity to move here I think I will. But I’m really happy to have this chance on Cage Warriors. I’m privileged.”

Interview: Paul Dollery (@PaulDollery)

Foster v Mason will co-headline Cage Warriors 44 at the HMV Forum in London on October 1, along with the CWFC lightweight title bout between Joseph Duffy and Ivan Musardo. Get your tickets HERE. Follow Cage Warriors on Twitter and Facebook for the latest news and updates.

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