There are plenty of things that could be on Matt Brown's mind right now.
The Ultimate Fighter alum turned welterweight contender has been on one of the hottest streaks in recent memory as he's racked up six consecutive victories over the past two years. During this run "The Immortal" not only knocked off a collection of seasoned veterans, but he accomplished the difficult task of breaking into the elite tier of what is undoubtedly the most competitive division under the UFC banner in the process.
While putting together any type of winning streak at the highest level of the sport is impressive enough, the fashion in which the 33-year-old has pulled his "about face" is what has sent shock waves through the 170-pound weight class.
In late 2011, Brown was sitting in the middle of a tough run where he had dropped four out of five showings, and his position on the roster was very much in jeopardy. Yet, much like the hard-charging grit of his fighting style, the Ohio native snapped back to put together one of the most impressive runs for a welterweight fighter not named Georges St-Pierre.
That streak began when he melted Chris Cope at UFC 143 in February, and it will carry him into his next challenge this Saturday where he will face highly touted Brazilian striker Erick Silva at Fight Night 40 in Cincinnati, Ohio.
In addition to the bout being the main event on the card, it also comes along at a time when the road to a title opportunity in the welterweight fold is wide open. With his current winning streak—and the momentum he's built behind his relentless, blue-collar fighting style—Brown could potentially gain solid ground with a win over the Team Nogueira fighter on Saturday.
That said, there is also a tremendous amount of risk in this situation, where Brown's title hopes are concerned. Silva is a dangerous fighter who presents interesting stylistic challenges, and if Brown were to come up short at Fight Night 40, all the progress he's made over the past 24 months would be dashed.
Nevertheless, Brown isn't one to get too caught up in thinking about anything else than what is directly in front of him.
Speaking to the media in attendance at Thursday's open workouts, Brown said:
The only fight that matters is this one. Anything that has happened before this fight is irrelevant at this point. Come Sunday morning I could be on a seven-fight winning streak or a one-fight losing streak. I'm not looking in the past and what I've already done at all. It means absolutely nothing. I'm coming into this fight 0-0 in my mind and this fight on Saturday is all that matters. I have to win this fight first and I'm not going to think about anything else until that happens.
I have no expectations. I never go into a fight with expectations of how things are going to play out because it is impossible to know what is going to happen. All I know is that I'm going to be the best that I can be. I've had training partners that have emulated him, and I have an idea of what his style is, but I don't have any expectations about the fight. I've lost fights that way in the past. I went in there expecting a certain thing and another thing happened. I don't do that anymore.
Over the past two years, Brown has battled his way from the brink of obscurity to reach elite territory, and he's done so by making the most out of every opportunity that has come his way. The Columbus-based fighter knows he is up against an interesting test in Silva, and he's excited to see if he has the answer to that puzzle.
His aggression doesn't really mean anything to me because the entire fight excites me. Every fight is different and I find them all interesting. They are all intriguing to me and I have to find a way to solve the puzzle that is in front of me. With the style Erick brings to the fight it adds a little bit of excitement to the thought process because it's not the regular conventional approach.
I don't know what this guy is going to do. He's wild as hell. He might throw a double-spinning back flip kick. You just don't know what he is going to do or why he's going to do it. He brings an unpredictability you aren't going to see in a lot of other fighters.
I have my puzzle and he has his. We are going in there on Saturday night to see who can figure the other puzzle out first.
While Brown has blocked out the circumstances hovering around the fight and is treating a main event in his home state like he was fighting "anywhere else," there is one wrinkle in the lead-up to the fight that has found its way through. Although Brown says he doesn't pay any mind to the buzz surrounding a fight, he has been swamped with questions regarding Silva being a 2-to-1 favorite going into the fight.
The TUF alum has a six-fight winning streak and a top-10 ranking to his credit, while the Brazilian striker has a much lower ranking and has struggled to put more than one win at a time together. Yet, the oddsmakers have Silva favored to get his hand raised at the end of the fight, and Brown addressed the matter on Thursday.
Speaking about being regarded the underdog going into the fight, Brown added:
There is no way I could ignore that because I've been asked questions about it 800 times. It doesn't make any sense to me. Even if I were looking at it from an unbiased perspective—which I'm not—it wouldn't make any sense statistically or odds-wise. Then again, maybe they know something I don't. It doesn't hurt in adding to the chip on my shoulder, but in all reality, I don't need that to get motivated to fight. If you have ever watched Erick Silva fight, and I have a bunch of times, it is plenty motivating to know that guy is going to be standing across the cage trying to kill me.
When asked if he believed the buzz surrounding Silva played into his underdog status, he answered:
If I had to guess I would say yes, but I'm no stranger to fighting a hype-train. I've certainly fought a few of those in my career. Every time I'm the underdog because they have all this hype behind them, but hype doesn't win fights. All it does is put more pressure on them. But I suspect he's had a really hard training camp for this fight.
Assuming he's an intelligent person, he has to realize all this hype isn't good for him and he has to put in the work. If he put in the work, then he's going to be an extremely dangerous guy. I know I put in the work, so if he did the same, it is going to be one hell of a fight.
Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.
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