Matt Brown is tied for the most knockouts in UFC history, but he rarely escapes any interaction with a large group of MMA fans without at least a few people referencing an infamous moment during his appearance on The Ultimate Fighter 7.
The incident that unfolded 15 years ago involved Jeremy May playing a prank on Brown by putting lemon juice in his dip chewing tobacco, which prompted an angry reaction from the Ohio native. Later in that same episode, Brown’s teammate Dante Rivera scored a win, which allowed head coach Forrest Griffin to pick the next fight.
Like clockwork, Brown was matched up with May.
All in all, it was great reality television. But it turns out that isn’t exactly what happened.
“There was a lot more to that than what they showed on screen,” Brown said on The Fighter vs. The Writer. “They edit the hell out of everything. What they didn’t show was, at first, that was maybe a week and a half into the show. So someone messing with me a week and a half in, I’m like, ‘Bro, I’m not going to be the sheep up with all these f****** wolves.’ I think that was probably the first prank that was done, and Jeremy May was that guy trying to make his name being a prankster, not trying to go in there and be the champion of the show or anything like that. That was his forte. He was trying to get on camera by doing pranks, so he picked me first.
“I’d already had a little bit of interaction with him and he rubbed me the wrong way. So I already tried to avoid him a little bit. Then our team was fighting the day after that happened, and if we win, we get to pick the next one. Me and Forrest had already talked, I was going to pick Jeremy May to fight. So he’s already on my radar.”
The prank aired during the fifth episode and then Brown delivered a vicious head-kick knockout to finish May at the start of the sixth episode.
The story played out perfectly, but Brown says he’d already handpicked May as his first opponent before the prank ever actually happened.
“I’m already confident I’m going to be fighting this guy in four days,” Brown said. “So he’s already on my mindset, and then he played the prank, so he just picked the wrong time.
“There’s always a little bit more behind the scenes than what they show on camera. They just edit it to look like [that], you have no idea what the timeline is there.”
When Brown returned home and the reality show aired on television, he inevitably dealt with the same prank being played on him again and again, except this time he had a laugh about it.
“I got off the show, every one of my friends put lemon juice in my dip,” Brown said. “It didn’t piss me off at all, we’re joking around.
“When your friend does it, it’s one thing. When it’s a guy you’re with at a house and you have to fight in a few days, it’s a completely different thing. He’s just a douchebag anyway. He just rubbed me the wrong way.”
Brown certainly doesn’t hold any grudges against May these days, and the two even had a cordial interaction after running into each other at a UFC event. “The Immortal” still enjoys the outcome of the fight, but it was also exactly what Brown expected to happen, which was part of the reason why he picked May as an opponent in the first place.
“It was definitely satisfying,” Brown said. “I don’t know if I would say it’s my most satisfying, because it wasn’t a tough fight really. I knew he wasn’t that great of a fighter. I knew I was going to do that to him. I knew he didn’t have a great gas tank, so in that sense, it wasn’t as satisfying.
“If I didn’t do that to him, that would be a huge letdown. It was either that or nothing.”
Despite so much time passing since his appearance on the show, Brown revealed that as recently as this past weekend when he attended the Sonic Temple Art and Music Festival in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio, the prank was still a hot topic of discussion.
“There’s people that walked up to me, ‘Hey dude, you got that dip with the lemon juice?’” Brown said. “All the drunk people at this concert festival and it’s like, ‘Yeah, I’ve never heard that one before.’”
The power and the reach of TUF was definitely huge for Brown and other athletes during that era, although the series hasn’t produced nearly as many viral moments in recent years.
Brown admits that even though he hasn’t watched the show since his season, he still usually kept up with TUF’s winners just because the UFC always made such a big deal about it. And while that hasn’t been the case with recent seasons, Brown expects a lot more attention will be paid to TUF 31 with Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler serving as coaches.
“I’ve never even heard the name Juliana Miller before, I guess she won The Ultimate Fighter ,” Brown said with a laugh.
“People don’t watch anymore, it doesn’t bring that same interest. And I know they’re trying to bring it back and bring that interest with Conor McGregor fighting Michael Chandler — I might watch a couple episodes because that might be interesting.”