Had Brent Primus not found jiu-jitsu, the former Bellator lightweight champion believes he would have followed in his father’s footsteps to prison.
He did not get along with his stepdad. And in his early teens, his stepdad kicked him out of the family home. But by the age of 14, he had his own place and a successful business.
However, it wasn’t exactly a stable home or a safe occupation, as he told me at the Bellator Dublin media day.
“I had nobody telling me what to do and I got kicked out of my house when I was really young. I was selling lots and lots of weed and making a lot of money.”
“I’ve had guys break into my house with guns and rob me one time. Dealing drugs is always going to be dangerous at some point, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. It made me who I am today.”
Being held at gunpoint in his own home was a particularly low point in his fledgling drug-dealing career.
“I had a gun pointed to my head. These guys came down from California and they were supposed to be Crips or something like that.”
“There were four of them. One was a big, big dude with a 45 on his waist. Some others had guns and were searching my house trying to find everything. Another guy had a gun to my head.”
What saved Primus on that occasion was a fleet-footed friend. The ‘really fast, little dude’ managed to leap out of the window before all the gunmen entered his home.
That brave move sped the process up rapidly.
“Honestly, I don’t even know (if the window was open). He was so fast it was crazy. We were all talking about it like, ‘how the hell did you get out the window so fast?’ But I think he saved us a lot. Those guys could have taken their time and done whatever they wanted, but they were so scared that he was going to call the cops that they were in a humongous rush.”
“I then ran to my next door neighbor who was selling weed at the same time. He got his little TEC-9 and ran over to my house. I was like, ‘Man, there’s going to be a shootout right now.’ They told me that they were going to come back and rob me again. I was stressed about going home for a while. I would circle my house over and over for months and months. It was crazy, man. It really was.”
Not that all this craziness inspired him to turn his life around. It was not until the long arm of the law intervened that he decided to follow another path.
“Heck no! I got busted by the cops when I was 18 years old. That was kind of the turning point for me.”
Selling weed was not the only illegal income source Primus had. His arms proved to be very lucrative assets in his hometown of Portland, Oregan.
Then, when the situation required it, his fists would protect his investments.
“I live in a college town and I used to go to house parties and arm wrestle for money. A lot of times they would turn into fights. I was getting into fights at least once or twice every weekend. I was knocking out adults.”
His first fist-fight came during a college party after one ‘big guy’ took issue with being beaten by Primus at arm-wrestling. In a huff, the brute grabbed his arm and slammed it on the table.
So Primus offered to settle the matter outside.
“The girl that hosted the party was like, ‘No, no, no! You gotta leave.’ So I was like, ‘Alright’. I left the party, was walking out and when I turned around, there was like 20 guys following me.”
“I turned around and there were three guys running at me. I knocked all three of them out within five seconds. I remember looking at the ground and they were laying down sleeping and I remember looking at my hands like, ‘Oh my God, I cannot believe I did that.’ That’s when I knew I could knock people out.”
Primus did not feel any guilt over rendering those students unconscious.
“At the time I thought it was cool as hell, honestly. They were way older than me and way bigger than me. I was probably 16/17 years old and they were all in college. It happened so fast that I didn’t really know what happened. I wasn’t scared at all because (clicks fingers) boom, it happened.”
As for the possibility of them seeking revenge at a later date?
“No, I think they got the point (laughs).”
Primus was a professional fighter before he found MMA. In the early days, his fights were not sanctioned. And as for the purse, that was poured from a tap.
“When I was 21 years old I was really good friends with a lot of the bouncers around town. They were like, ‘We’ll buy you drinks all night if you go out and handle this dude.’ So I would go outside and mop the floor with some people. (The bouncers) would hide me in the back and get me drunk. It was a crazy time, man. I have a lot of fire in me (laughs).”
Eventually, a good friend convinced Primus that getting paid actual money to fight would be a good idea. He signed him up for an MMA fight and two weeks out from his debut, he decided to test his skills in a jiu-jitsu gym.
He was humbled, obviously. However, he was now driven to do better.
“I thought I was just going to mop the floor with all these guys because I knew I was stronger, I knew I had more in me. But they wrapped me up, submitted me, tapped me out and I was like, ‘Oh my god, there’s technique behind this!’ That’s when I fell in love with it and started training full time. I got my blue belt in three weeks, won pan-Americans, the nationals and the US open and I just caught on so fast.”
“I had no parents to tell me to do my homework or go to school. When I started doing martial arts, I was bowing to my opponents win or lose. It taught me respect and honor. Literally, jiu-jitsu saved me from going to jail.”
On Saturday night, Primus (9-1) takes on Scotland’s Chris Bungard (15-5) in Dublin’s 3Arena.
Image credits: Sathishaa Mohan