Tonight (May 10, 2014) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweights Matt Brown and Erick Silva will battle for high stakes in the main event of UFC Fight Night 40, airing live at 10 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1 from U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The No. 7-ranked Brown has lived up to his "Immortal" nickname as of late, besting six straight opponents in the Octagon. He was last seen defeating veteran Mike Pyle with a 29-second knockout at UFC Fight Night 26 in August 2013.
The win earned "The Immortal" a UFC on FOX 9 match-up against former interim welterweight champ Carlos Condit, a bout that could have propelled Brown on to a title shot. Unfortunately he suffered a back injury and was painfully forced to watch as the massively stacked UFC 170-pound arena.
Silva has long been regarded as one of the finest up-and-coming prospects in mixed martial arts (MMA).
Problem is, "Indio" is now 29 years old, and has failed to deliver a defining performance against a true top opponent. Despite his inconsistencies, Silva still possesses a very dangerous and well-rounded game that, when coupled with his raw athletic ability, makes him a fighter capable of ending any welterweight's night.
But does he have what it takes to end "The Immortal's" hot run? Let's take a look at the keys to victory for Brown vs. Silva:
Record: 18-11 overall, 11-5 UFC
Key Wins: Mike Pyle (UFC Fight Night 26), Mike Swick (UFC on FOX 5), Jordan Mein (UFC on FOX 7), Stephen Thompson (UFC 145)
Key Losses: Dong Hyun Kim (UFC 88), Ricardo Almeida (UFC 111), Chris Lytle (UFC 116, United Fight League)
Keys to Victory: Brown has been one of the hottest fighters in the game today, a surge that was only halted by his injury prior to facing Condit.
"The Immortal" is flabbergasted that he is roughly a 2-to-1 underdog against Silva. While he acknowledges that "Indio" is no doubt highly talented, Brown believes he hasn't beaten "anybody that good," so the fact he's not the favorite should serve to motivate him in Cincinnati.
To keep his win streak alive, Brown has to continue improving on what got him to this point. His disrupting and aggressive striking will be on display from the outset. Keeping a high volume of long range punches in Silva's face will be paramount to dictating the pace for Brown.
His wrestling has also been improving by leaps and bounds in recent years. He may want to keep Silva guessing by changing levels and going for a few takedowns, but he's got to be careful if and when he secures one.
If Brown has one weakness, it's submission defense. He's tapped out nine times in 11 losses, and Silva has nine submission wins of his own.
That means Brown will be looking to score the knockout early and often, and he'll be doing it with a big chip on his shoulder.
Record: 16-4(1) overall, 3-3 UFC
Key Wins: Takenori Sato (UFC Fight Night 36), Charlie Brenneman (UFC on FX 3), Jason High (UFC on Fuel TV 10)
Key Losses: Dong Hyun Kim (UFC Fight Night 29), Jon Fitch (UFC 153)
Keys to Victory: Silva was once thought to be the next big thing at welterweight, but the ruthless division has passed him by a bit. While his wins have been thoroughly impressive, they've been against mid-level competition.
To shake that negative reputation and score his biggest-ever win, Silva has to fight smart. He got a bit overconfident against Kim last year and paid the ultimate price for it.
Staying aggressive while maintaining a calm focus will be key to victory for Silva. He'll need to keep Brown's power at bay with a torrent of leg kicks and combinations, and he also has to keep his chin protected while doing so.
Silva's striking is solid to be sure, but looking to stand and trade with a known knockout artist like Brown isn't likely to end well.
That means that Silva's best chance to win may be to take this fight to the ground. Although Brown has been improving there as of late, Silva should still hold quite the decided advantage on the mat. His Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and proven grappling record, coupled with Brown's past ineptitude there, are probably the deciding factors in him being the questionably large favorite.
But that adds a lot of pressure to Silva's shoulders. He needs to fight smart in a hostile environment and stay conscious long enough to drag this fight to the canvas.
Bottom Line from Cincinnati: The bottom line for this fight is that it presents two very interesting dynamics.
Brown is obviously knocking on the door of a title shot if he can score another big finish, but defeating Silva isn't likely to get him over the hump. Still, all he can do is win, and he's one of the hungriest fighters in UFC right now.
He can't let his anger at being the underdog get to him; that could lead to a careless mistake. But Brown has shown a great degree of mental toughness, and he truly feels that greatness is at hand.
Silva, on the other hand, needs to prove he deserves his considerable hype. Yes, he's beaten most of the competition set before him, but he's failed miserably against ranked fighters like Fitch and Maia.
The future is bright for Silva, but they've been saying that for years. He needs to win now. If he doesn't, his time to shine in what may be MMA's toughest division will be over before it started.
All that adds up to very interesting main event in Cincinnati. Enjoy the fight.
Matt Brown has been running through competition. Will the talented but inconsistent Erick Silva be next on his list?