No. 7 ranked Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight contender, Matt Brown, looks to extend his winning streak to seven by taking out a fellow knockout artist, Erick Silva, this Saturday night (May 10, 2014) at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio.
See Silva's full breakdown here.
After nearly being cut in 2010 following three straight losses, Brown earned a hard-fought win over John Howard. He put himself back on the chopping block immediately after by getting submitted by Seth Baczynski. With a 1-4 record in his last five fights, few would have been surprised had "The Immortal" been released.
Luckily, Brown turned it around by sawing through his next six opponents, finishing all but one. Brown has steadily rose through the ranks during this streak, starting on the preliminary portion of events and now headlining his first card in his home city.
But does Brown have the mixed martial arts (MMA) skills necessary to overcome his athletic opponent?
Let's take a closer look.
Brown has referred to himself as a technical brawler, which is as good a description as any. A lanky Muay Thai-style striker, Brown is a hyper-aggressive pressure fighter who excels at damaging his opponent against the fence.
On the outside, Brown looks to land leg kicks and jabs. He doesn't really build off the jab but instead uses it to score points and gauge distance. However, he will double and triple the jab.
Then, Brown will begin to charge his opponent with his boxing. He usually throws combinations of left hooks and right straights, doubling up or going to the body with either strike to mix up his combinations. If Brown notices that his opponent is covering up tight before he throws, "The immortal" will attempt to sneak a right uppercut between his guard. Brown pushes his opponent backwards with these punches, eventually forcing him into the cage. From this position, his foe has to circle laterally, and Brown will attempt to force him to run into a punch.
While moving forward, Brown does a decent job moving his head after he throws his right hand. He also moves his head prior to his charge, refusing to give away easy hits. His aggression makes him fairly hittable, but Brown does not shy away from trading punches. Brown mixes up his head kicks as well, throwing some as question mark kicks and others in a chopping, classic Muay Thai fashion.
In addition to his punches, Brown likes to throw a head kick as his opponent circles into it. Even when blocked, the impact of the kick stops his opponent in place and shakes him a bit, allowing Brown's follow up combination to land more easily.
If his opponent doesn't move laterally and stands his ground, Brown will look to clinch. He sometimes enters the clinch with a high stepping knee but frequently uses elbow strikes to grab a clinch. By extending his arms and grabbing his opponent's hand, Brown can pull his opponent into an elbow strike. After it lands, Brown is close enough to grab at least a single-collar tie.
Once he secures the clinch, Brown is very active with a mix of knees and elbows. Brown angles his knee strikes very well, digging them to the body until a head shot is open. If his opponent is successfully defending against his knees, Brown will shift his attention with a hard elbow to the side of the head and then go back to work. Additionally, it's very rare that Brown's opponent can break away from the clinch without getting hit by something on the exit.
Brown has trained with some seriously talented wrestlers, including the Cuban Olympic team. However, Brown's best takedowns are a blend of Judo and Muay Thai, as his dangerous clinch strikes open up takedown opportunities.
When Brown does shoot, he prefers the single leg. Brown's form is a bit awkward, and his set ups to the shot aren't particularly good, but he's effective if he does get in on his opponent's hips. To finish, he often lifts his opponent's leg to his waist then kicks out the remaining leg.
"The Immortal" is much better with his foot sweeps and trips. Brown is excellent at pushing and pulling in the Muay Thai clinch while landing strikes. His opponent is off-balance and confused by this barrage of strikes and movement, allowing Brown to easily slip a trip into the mix. Brown usually doesn't follow his opponent to the ground after such a stumble, as he instead continues to attack as his opponent looks to recover his stance.
When Brown fought Stephen Thompson, he repeatedly took down the kickboxing specialist. In the third round, Brown landed a couple hard knees to the body, forcing "Wonderboy" to pull away and circle. As he did, Brown threw a leg kick out and cleaved the back of Thompson's legs, knocking him to the mat. Brown's striking to shot transitions may not be anything special, but his ability to blend clinch violence and takedowns is fairly unique.
Brown's takedown defense has not been tested for quite some time. Judging based on what he showed prior to his current streak, Brown's takedown defense is fairly average. He's solid in the clinch and has above average balance, but he's vulnerable to the double leg as he pushes forward.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)
Currently a purple belt in jiu-jitsu, Brown has both shown moments of potential and made silly mistakes while on the mat. Despite a stunning total of nine submission losses, Brown has proven that his offensive game is effective.
Brown's bread and butter is likely the triangle choke. He's very good at controlling one of his opponent's wrists and then quickly threading it through his legs. In his recent fights, Brown nearly finished Mike Swick and Jordan Mein with triangle chokes. In addition, Brown can smoothly transition to the arm bar and omoplata as well.
Another move that Brown has repeatedly attempted is the d'arce choke. Brown admitted to having difficulty controlling his opponent on the mat following the Thompson fight, but the d'arce choke is an effective counter to stand up attempts. As his opponent looks to utilize an underhook to stand, Brown swims his arm deep and then Gable grips his hands. From there, he attempts to compress his opponent's head and neck until he can switch to a rear naked choke grip.
When he fought Thompson, Brown used a number of offensive jiu-jitsu techniques. His stacking pass worked quite well and also did damage. After passing, Brown managed to secured an inverted triangle near the end of the third round. At one point, Brown even went after a calf slicer, but Thompson was able to prevent Brown from putting a lot of pressure on his knee.
Brown has demonstrated a decent sweep game off his back as well. When he fought Baczynski, he used a beautiful scissor sweep to topple the gigantic welterweight. This sweep requires excellent timing, otherwise "The Polish Pistola" would've been able to base out. Brown often uses the knee across half guard to prevent his opponent from passing, but his success with this fairly basic sweep showed that he's quite experienced with it.
Most of Brown's submission losses, at least in the UFC, can be attributed to carelessness or impatience. He doesn't watch his neck when he shoots and is slow to react when his opponent fishes for his neck, even after all of these submission losses. Brown's aggressiveness is a huge asset for him in a lot of ways, but it has gotten him choked more than a few times.
Best chance for success
Brown should get in Silva's face early and often. The worse case scenario for Brown is to end up on his back with the submission-savvy Silva hunting for the tap out on top of him, so he should look to force the Brazilian into a brawl.
"Indio" will likely oblige him.
On the feet, Brown needs to close the distance quickly. At Silva's preferred range, he can fire off vicious kicks and leap into heavy punches. If Brown can get in clinch fighting range, he's at a big advantage. Plus, it would be exhausting for Silva to try to avoid Brown's pressure and remain in the center of the cage. Brown definitely has a conditioning advantage, so a quick pace benefits him.
If Brown does end up on the bottom, he needs to remain calm. Above all, he needs to keep his back on the mat or the fence. Turtling up in an attempt to stand against Silva is foolish, as Silva loves to attack from the back mount. If Brown needs to spend the round on his back until the clock runs out, it's worth it. Brown has five rounds to finish Silva, he can afford to sacrifice one in order to stay safe.
Will Brown take another step towards the strap or can Silva steal his hype?