There's a certain place in fan's hearts for the eminently entertaining fighter that's a longshot to get a crack at the title, but always finds a place on the card due to the excitement he brings. And at the moment, Matt Brown is the king of the fan-friendly fight. With a blend of pure balls and aggression, he's the perfect shot-in-the-arm starter for a card, and Saturday night, he reprised his role in grand fashion with a gutty, balls-out second-round technical knockout of the talented Jordan Mein.
That's why, with Chris Lytle's retirement, I'm unofficially crowning him as the New Chris Lytle.
The Indiana product won a record six "Fight of The Night" Awards, along with three "Submission of the Night" prizes and a "Knockout of the Night" as well. Lytle never got a title shot, but had an epic UFC career with nary a dull moment. And even when he lost, such as against wrestling powerhouses like Matt Hughes and Josh Koscheck, he took such a terrific beating without folding that it was a grim entertainment in itself.
For Brown, Mein was the biggest win a career that has been middling at times, limited by a ground game that has left him outmatched on the mat. It didn't come easy, as Brown absorbed some good counters in a rollicking first round, and was crumpled near the end of the stanza with a bodacious left hook to the liver, one that left him in visible agony as he squirmed on the mat, riding out Mein's follow-up.
But in the second, picking up from the breakneck pace he set in the first, he simply kept pressing, forcing exchanges as Mein tired. Finally, a perfect right hand stunned the Canadian, and that's when Brown went Brown, bashing whatever was available as Mein turtled up, even smashing some elbows to the ribs, to elicit the stoppage.
That's what you gotta love about Brown. It doesn't matter what position he's in. He'll get the Muay Thai clinch in close and ram home six-inch elbows. Or from the half-guard on top, he'll bash a guy in the ribs a half-dozen times, or elbow you in the thigh while tied up against the cage. For Brown, all damage is cumulative, and the traditional modes on how to execute that are thrown out the window.
Witness the beatings he put on Pete Sell and James Wilks, and it's as though he's settling a blood feud. Give him something to attack, he will. And with how he decimated Mike Swick in his previous Fox bout, he's secured a place as the ideal guy to kick off a cable television card with.
Now with five straight wins behind him, Brown deserves the kind of judicious matchmaking the UFC reserves for its high-octane attractions. Much as Pat Barry has pretty much been pitted against fellow strikers to generate maximum excitement, who wouldn't want to see Brown tangle with other dangerous bangers like Erick Silva or Robbie Lawler?
Both have fights lined up this summer -- Silva vs. John Hathaway in June, and Lawler against Tarec Saffiedine in July - so in the interim, I'd be perfectly happy to have Brown tangle with Nick Diaz or Martin Kampmann, both of whom are available. It's very rare to have a guy that attacks anyone and everyone he fights, and either of those two would represent serious opportunity for Brown to prove he belongs in the top ten.
His wrestling is always going to be a weakness that elite grapplers will look to exploit, especially as his standup keeps turning opponents into highlight-reel codas.
But when it comes to pure excitement, Brown is number one at the moment.