The UFC welterweight division is full of talented, intriguing and entertaining fighters. Starting with welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre, you have Johny Hendricks, who at this time is riding a six fight winning streak, former interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit, Nick Diaz and GSP’s training partner, Rory MacDonald.
All of those fighters mentioned above could step in and defend that title proudly and become a marketable, successful champion. With that being said there are some other guys further down the ladder that are either just coming into their own or fighting their way back up in to contention. Jake Ellenberger is a perfect example of a guy who was closing in on a title shot, lost a fight, but has since bounced back very nicely.
Matt Brown fits in to the other category, he has been around awhile, but only began hitting his stride last February. After losing four of five fights, Brown defeated Chris Cope at UFC 143 and hasn’t looked back since. Three more wins in a row including a highlight reel knockout over Mike Swick at UFC on Fox 5 has Brown moving rapidly up the welterweight ladder. His record may be a pedestrian 16-11, but if you take the time to look at where he has been, it is easy to see where he is headed.
Dan Hardy is next up for Brown as the two will meet next month in San Jose on the star-studded UFC on Fox 7 card. Headlined by a lightweight title bout between UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson and Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez, this is a perfect opportunity for Brown to show fans all around the world just how much he has improved. Hardy is certainly no slouch and has won his last two fights after suffering through a four fight losing streak himself. Brown is excited for the opportunity and while he’s not looking past Hardy, he’s ready for a top 10 opponent.
“I think it’s a really good match-up, an exciting, interesting match-up,” Brown told Alchemist Radio. “Hardy is a tough guy who hits hard, causes a lot of problems and has definitely beat alot of good guys. I think it’s a good step up for me, he’s been all the way to the top and he’s been where I want to be.”
“First things first I have to beat Hardy, he’s a tough guy and brings a lot to the table. After that I would definitely like a top guy, I want a guy who is going to offer the toughest test and give me the best fight. I want someone who is going to get me closer to a fight with GSP.”
Speaking of GSP he is coming off another successful title defense this past Saturday night over Nick Diaz. Brown offered up his assessment of the fight and whether or not he has what it takes to be the man to wrestle the belt from GSP’s vice like grip.
“Same old GSP, he does the same thing to everybody,” offered Brown. “They all know what he is going to do, but they still can’t stop it. I think I can do what he does better and totally stifle his game. I know that sounds kind of crazy especially considering most of my losses have been by submission and I’m not a big credentialed wrestler. I understand that people will laugh when I say that, but it doesn’t bother me, I train with higher level wrestlers than he trains with. I’m honest with myself and I know where I’m at and I know what I can accomplish. I know that I can get there and I can beat him.”
“For me it’s not just about confidence, I truly know it. I can tell you right now, GSP can’t strike with me. When it comes down to it, he’s going to take you down, maybe punch you a couple of times and keep you down there. When guys like Matt Hughes or Josh Koscheck weren’t able to stop that, then Matt Brown comes along and says he’s going to stop his takedowns, it sounds kind of crazy. It’s just a matter of me performing at the best of my abilities. If I do that I’ll end up beating him.”
Another bout that Brown was very interested in was the co-main event between Hendricks and Condit. Hendricks took home a very close unanimous decision and depending on who you ask, they may tell you that Condit was the winner; Brown is one of those people.
“I was pretty impressed with Condit and I honestly wasn’t that impressed with Hendricks,” said The Immortal. “I thought Carlos won the fight myself, I know Johny got the takedowns, but Carlos pushed the action, he came forward and probably landed more strikes. All I saw with Hendricks was a couple of takedowns and yeah he got a couple of punches here and there, but he reminded me of a guy from Street Fighter. Your opponent pushes the same button over and over again and keeps hitting you with it and you’re like, I can’t believe I got hit with that. That was like a Johny Hendricks fight.”
In a few months Hendricks will finally get a crack at GSP and the UFC welterweight title. Brown said it’s not an easy fight to gauge, but he tried his best to explain how he thought things would go down.
“I don’t know about Hendricks game planning, but if he has the right game plan and trains the right way and comes in the right shape, I think he has a good chance,” Brown concluded. “If he doesn’t train properly or gets overconfident, it’ll probably be the same old GSP. St. Pierre will be prepared properly I believe.
One thing Brown has always maintained is a high level of respect for the sport and his opponents. He prides himself on being a true martial artist, something that Nick Diaz wanted GSP to consider him as. Brown doesn’t agree with how Diaz carries himself, but he readily admits when he sees him on television he just has to watch.
“I’ll admit when there is a Diaz fight or an interview I’ll be one of the first guys to want to see it,” Brown stated. “He is an entertaining son of a bitch, but I am absolutely against some of the antics he pulls. I lost some respect in his last fight, punching after the bell, its one thing outside of the ring to be talking trash, but when you’re in there be a man. If someone was to do that to me, I’d punch them right back. He wants to be recognized as a martial artist, but then wants to act like a 15-year-old street thug. I still find him extremely entertaining and I love his style.”
While a lot of fighters would change camps, coaches or look elsewhere to fix the holes in their game, Brown kept everything pretty much status quo. He decided he would stick with what brought him to the dance and judging by his recent performances he made the right choice.
“Even when I was on a down slope I stayed consistent and I worked hard every day,” said Brown. “I’m not trying to make excuses, but I’ve had some crazy stuff going on in my life while I was losing. There’s always more to it than meets the eye, but I don’t make excuses, it’s a part of life. I’m not saying I went through anything that no one else has gone through, I’m sure other guys go through just as much and win fights. For whatever reason I didn’t handle it properly and couldn’t put it all together, I just keep my focus on my goals regardless of how low everything gets. I am going to keep my eye on the prize.”