Ask anyone in the world of MMA what Matt Brown’s defining characteristic is, invariably that one word will be your answer. No matter how overused the word is when it comes to combat sports, even the most jaded and cynical among MMA fans and pundits will apply the tag to Brown.
What other word can you use to describe a man who was given the nickname “The Immortal” after surviving a drug overdose? A man who was able to turn his back on his addictions and proceed to the highest level in one of the most difficult sports in the world?
Brown’s story is nothing short of inspirational. After besting his personal demons en route to the Octagon, he made a definitive statement in the UFC, going 4-1 in his first five fights, including three straight wins. But things soured for Brown inside the cage after that, as he dropped his next three consecutive fights and was absolutely sure he would be cut from the organization.
But fate smiled on Brown, as the UFC brass were and are big fans of his fighting style. A constant aggressor who gives no quarter and would never ask for it. Brown re-focused and again is 4-1 in his last five, and is again riding a three fight win streak.
Brown will need all the toughness he can muster Saturday night against Mike Swick, another Zuffa favourite who is finally re-finding his stride after being plagued with health problems the past couple of years. While Brown is quick to point out that he has the utmost respect for Swick and his battles through adversity, “The Immortal’s” confidence is high going into the fight.
I think I have an advantage everywhere in this fight. He has certain things that he does very well, like he’s very quick and very explosive. I think I’m prepared to deal with that and I don’t think it’s going to be an advantage for him.
I think I can knock him out, I think I can submit him. I think I could TKO him on the ground or knock him out on the ground. I see a million different ways I can win this fight.
2012 has been labelled by some as “The Year of the Injury” for the UFC, with fighters seemingly pulling out of fights on a weekly basis due to one injury or another. But Brown shrugs off the idea that injuries are inevitable and maintains that training smart is the key.
I’ve been pretty fortunate in not having had very many injuries. I’ve fought through all of the injuries that I’ve had. I really don’t think about it, so if it happens it happens. I try to train smart and I’m not going to let it affect me. I’m not going to sit there and think about it and not be able to put a full effort into my training.
There are a lot of fights I go into not at 100%. My cardio could be 100%, mentally 100%, physically 100%, muscular 100%, but maybe an injury, so you wouldn’t necessarily be 100%. That is definitely an old school mentality of training. You definitely want to be as close to 100% as possible.
In addition to the physical preparation that goes into training, more and more fighters are also making mental preparation a focal point of their training. Georges St. Pierre has famously consulted with a sports psychologist, along with John Makdessi and other UFC athletes. Brown is among the athletes who are finding value in putting in the mental work along with the physical work.
I’ve worked with a few different sport psychologists. I’ve read tons of books on psychology and I have guided meditation CD’s that I work with and listen to. I don’t have a specific sport psychologist I work with anymore. I do it mainly on my own nowadays.
A well-focused and prepared Brown is a tough order for anyone in the welterweight division. Both he and Swick are known primarily for their striking attack, which many hope will lead to a center of the cage slugfest to open the Fox telecast. If it does result in both men swinging haymakers, the deciding factor may come down to one thing: toughness. That would suit Brown just fine.