Fighting in the Shade – Matt ‘the Immortal’ Brown

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Ever since his appearance on the Ultimate Fighter season 7, Matt Brown has been a fan favourite with fans who appreciate a competitor who comes to fight, who leaves it in the cage, who goes out on his shield and insert further sound bytes.

Another thing that endears Brown to us is his no nonsense attitude, his straight talking confidence, the fact that he doesn’t employ cunning smack talk, and just radiates a calm assurance in himself and willingness to go in and get the job done.

Brown’s early UFC career was very successful with a 4-1 record marred only by a split decision loss to then unbeaten Dong Hyun Kim and more than made up for by his fun fights and stoppage victories.

However, it all went a bit wrong in 2010 and 2011 as Brown suffered a 1-4 streak with only a decision win over the ever-game John Howard breaking up a series of humbling submission defeats.

It’s been suggested that personal issues led to a lack of focus in training, but I don’t know what caused it. It’s not my place to comment.

However, it is an acknowledged side effect of a willingness to go to war, to take a punch to give two, to eat your opponent’s best shot and smile at them that sometimes, it doesn’t work and that level of aggressiveness can lead to mistakes which will be capitalised upon at this level.

Kept in a job by his tendency to be in fun fights and with a record hovering just above even at 12-11, Brown was at a crossroads. How did he respond?

He rolled up his sleeves and got back to work.

A TKO victory over the outmatched Chris Cope was followed by Brown spoiling the momentum of young wunderkind Stephen Thompson, handing him his first defeat.

On a winning streak for the first time in three years, Brown stayed on his bike and racked up a other exciting TKO win over Luis Ramos.

The upswing in his form earned him a shot on the main card of UFC on FOX 5 against one of the UFC’s most beloved sons, Mike ‘Quick’ Swick.

With Swick having once been on the edge of a title shot, before injury left him on the bench for almost two years and fresh off an impressive win over Damarques Johnsonn, Brown was very much the underdog coming in to the fight.

Shows how much the bookies know.

Brown looked a step quicker and meaner than Swick from the start and kept the pressure up into the second round, earning a KO win for the biggest scalp of his career.

That in itself led to another shot on a FOX broadcast, against British star Dan Hardy who shared a similar renaissance story having been very close to his pink slip.

Unfortunately, Hardy was sidelined from the bout with a previously un diagnosed heart defect and was replaced by surging young gun, Jordan Mein.

Sound familiar?

Brown was once again the underdog as Mein had a very fashionable reputation as the next big thing at Welterweight, and for a moment in the first round he looked all that as a brutal body shot folded Brown up like a cheap suit.

Mein failed to capitalise and Brown rallied, coming close with a triangle choke and was the more aggressive fighter towards the end of the round.

In the second round, it was all Brown as he battered Mein into submission, showing his experience by resisting the urge to knee the crumpling Canadian as he placed his hands on the mat.

Big John McCarthy stepped in and all of a sudden, Matt Brown was on a 5-0 win streak, with four of them by stoppage and at least three of them very much against the predictions of the bookies.

In the post fight press conference, Brown asserted that he’s very much interested in a title shot – after all, it’s why you lace up in the first place, isn’t it?

A great many MMA journalists scoffed, with terms like journeyman and brawler being dismissively tossed around but it’s not only a future I’d like to see, it’s one that I think is more than possible.

You see, I feel that Brown is not only a grossly underrated fighter – he has cardio to burn, very dangerous submission and striking games, as hard a chin as you’re going to find at 170lbs and despite his reputation as a brawler, he’s a canny ring general – but he has CHARACTER.

Of course, anyone who fights at the top level has character, but few have endured such a roller coaster career as Brown, especially in such steadfast ‘I’m not changing’ fashion.

Never once has Matt Brown played safe, never once has Matt Brown stopped to crying about referee calls, opponents being on drugs or that he had been concealing an injury.

He comes to fight, and doesn’t make excuses when he loses.

Some fighters enjoy the unrelenting praise of the mainstream MMA media, and others like Brown end up in the shade – as evidenced by the fact that he STILL hasn’t cracked the media-voted UFC top ten rankings.

That doesn’t bother Matt overmuch, because he’s looked into himself and sees more than they do.

Of course, he’s going to need a win over a top five fighter to get that call – Carlos Condit isn’t booked and I’d LOVE to see that fight.

I’m not saying I think Matt WILL be the champion, I’m just saying that he could well do it.

The measure of immortality is not necessarily in the manner of your victory, but in the way you face defeat with bravery, the way you stand up to a seemingly hopeless task. Against such odds are made legends which echo in eternity.

By that reckoning, Matt Brown more than lives up to his nickname of ‘the Immortal’. That’s more than you can say for most fighters…

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