Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face. At the beginning of 2020, a lot of people had big plans. The hashtag #2020vision blew up on social media, and it was the beginning of an election year. There was just a lot of buzz in the air. Then, the coronavirus (COVID-19) punched everyone in the face.
Pennsylvania MMA fighter Nick “Nyquil” Browne started 2020 with big goals. The former wrestler and All-American boxer was coming off a Legacy Fighting Alliance 76 headliner win in September over Trey Ogden. It was his second first-round submission win in a row, and he was in discussions for an LFA title fight. Then, he got injured.
“I was definitely planning on being more active than I have been,” Browne told Combat Press. “With LFA being a big promotion, there’s a broader horizon of fighters, rather than regional ones. It’s hard to pay them to fly in, and it’s harder to find replacements in the regional ones. I just wanted to stay active, get a win, and get two or three fights in before COVID happened. I want to get in the UFC this year.”
Prior to the COVID-19 shutdown, the LFA was gearing up to have Bryce Logan take on Jacob Rosales for the vacant lightweight title in April. Browne had hoped to get that shot himself, but his injury pushed him back one spot in line. As that event was canceled, some fighters wondered if they would fight at all in 2020.
“It definitely crossed my mind,” Browne said. “But I have a good manager who just pushes and pushes and doesn’t take no for an answer. She’ll get her way. It’s definitely cool to have that hook-up, but it definitely crosses your mind when all this goes down. You’re being offered an LFA title fight, but then you get hurt and have to say no. And then fighting on the undercard of the title fight you were supposed to have? It kind of makes a little blow to the stomach.”
From March into June, most gyms across the country were closed. However, many professional athletes, including Browne, were able to keep training in some capacity. After all, a good fighter is always ready.
“We’ve been getting a good bit of training in,” Browne admitted. “It’s just been isolated. We’ve just been keeping the same training partners at the same times and avoiding the bigger crowds of people. Keeping the same training partners is definitely paying off.”
The UFC was able to get back to business in May, albeit behind closed doors. As the big show set the stage for the other promotions, more events started getting announced. The LFA returned with LFA 84 on July 10. Meanwhile, Browne found out in June that he was going to be back as the LFA 87 co-main event, with Rosales and Logan slated for the main event. He was initially slated to meet Josh Wick, but then Wick pulled out with a rib injury and was replaced by Ben Egli. The two are very different opponents for Browne.
“I knew [Wick] had some submissions, but his main forte was the stand-up,” Browne explained. “So, we were starting to test my current stand-up position. We’ve been working really hard at blocking kicks and firing back.
“[Egli is] a different type of fighter, so we had to adjust accordingly. You know, our wheelhouse is grappling, but this will be a fun example of just how far our striking has come and what we need to work on. We’re just going to stick to the game plan of beating this guy at his own game. If he wants to get knocked out, he’ll get knocked out. If he wants to get submitted, he’ll get submitted. He’s got more jiu-jitsu wins than striking wins. He’s more comfortable on the ground, but so am I.
“He might have a fake illusion that he might be better than me, but whenever the time comes, if he tries to go for a takedown or a submission, he’s going to learn it’s not that type of fight. It’s not going to be easy for him.”
With the way things have been going in the world of combat sports, there is always the possibility that one of the headlining fighters could get yanked. Positive virus tests of fighters and cornermen have caused many fights to be scrapped at a moment’s notice. Should this be the case at LFA 87, Browne will be right there to step in. He has been doing all he can to avoid getting sick.
“We’re definitely trying to keep our distance from large groups of people,” Browne said. “I’ve just been spending time with family. Any time we’re out, I try to wear a mask if I can’t stay six feet away. I’m just taking the normal precautions. It’s definitely scary to lose a fight because of it, but it’s so easy to catch it, and your fight could be off the instant you get it.”
Browne has not been very active in the last couple years. He’s averaged just one outing per year since 2016. The year 2020 was supposed to be a more active one for him, but the universe didn’t cooperate. Now, he’s set for his first fight of 2020 at the end of July. He’s taking the hits as they come, though, and training his tail off.
“I’m constantly growing [and] trying to make the fight more exciting,” Browne said. “I’m trying to get more knockouts and just beat people at their own game. I’m not going to stop until I’m in the UFC, hopefully with the belt there too.”