XENIA — Things in Jamestown native Matt Brown’s life are going pretty well these days.
He’s healthy again. He’s won his last six Ultimate Fighting Championship-sanctioned fights. His success has him gaining consideration as a serious UFC welterweight title contender. And he’s recently been selected to fight Brazilian Erick Silva in UFC Fight Night’s main event, May 10 in Cincinnati.
The May 10 bout will mark kind of a coming home party for the Greeneview High School graduate (Class of 1999), but while it will be nice to see his family and friends, Brown is mostly focused on winning the fight.
“It’s nice. A fight’s a fight no matter where it’s at, but it’s cool because after the fight I won’t have to take a flight home. I can just drive there. (laughs) Some of the smaller things like that are what makes it pretty cool,” Brown said. “And then of course, it’s nice that family and friends can make it to the fight to watch. But once I get to the arena, every fight is the same.”
Brown, 33, lives with his wife and two children in Galloway. He trains at several locations in the Columbus area, including Westside Barbell, The Scraphouse, and Ohio Fitness & Martial Arts in Bellefontaine. He occasionally works out with the Ohio State University wrestling program, too.
Brown said his life hasn’t always been about athletics. He said he got in with the wrong people during his days at Greeneview High.
“I did lots of sports when I was younger. But when I became a freshman, I got out of sports. I just got involved with the wrong crowd, and didn’t really…. I wasn’t really pursuing any sports at that time,” he said. “I just had a lot of problems with drugs and alcohol, and partying too much. Ultimately, … to make a long story short, MMA saved me from that lifestyle and gave me an alternate route.”
That ‘alternate route’ has led Brown to fight all over the country and once, so far, in England. In 2007, Brown won the International Sport Combat Federation welterweight title in Kennesaw, Ga. That success led to his selection as one of 32 fighters to compete on The Ultimate Fighter television show, where he lost to eventual show winner Amir Sadollah in the quarterfinals.
After having to sit out a recent scheduled match with a back injury, Brown says he’s back to 100 percent healthy today. He currently has a 20-11 record in professional mixed martial arts fights and is on a six-match winning streak.
With his recent string of impressive knockout victories, Brown’s name has come up as someone in the welterweight ranks who deserves to have a UFC title shot. Currently ranked eighth among UFC Welterweights, Brown says he’ll take his shot if and whenever it comes.
Right now, upcoming opponent Erick Silva (16-4) is his main concern.
“Erick Silva is a very very good fighter. He’s not ranked in the top-10, but he’s as good if not better than anybody in the top-10. So, you know he’s had some bad luck a couple times. But I think he’ll be one of the toughest fights that I’ve had in the UFC. I have to be 100 percent prepared and ready for whatever he brings,” Brown said.
As for that title shot?
“Well you know, one thing about life is that you don’t always get what you deserve. But you generally get what you earn. I don’t really care about whether I deserve it or not, you know?” he said. “I just go in to fight as hard as I can every time, and I have to believe that when my time comes it’s going to come. And I’m going to take that title and bring it back to Ohio.”
Brown is generally a stand-up fighter, but he said he’s been working on improving his ground fighting prowess. He said he’s working on his grappling and wrestling style to “make those weaknesses my strengths.”
Brown has the nickname of “The Immortal,” but it’s not a moniker he’s particularly proud of having. He acquired the nickname (and tattoo that runs across his abdomen) during his drug days.
“Originally I didn’t want it to be my nickname, but it was tattooed on my stomach. The promoters just started calling me by that name, and it just sort of stuck,” he said.
He was quiet after discussing his past. But when he was asked whether he had a message for teen-aged youth who might be stuck in the same drug-induced partying lifestyle that he quite literally fought his way out of, Brown once again became intense.
“I think the biggest thing is, … I came from the Bowersville and Jamestown area, and I think the biggest thing was that I just realized the world is so much bigger than little Greene County there,” he said. “Getting out of there is not some impossible feat. It’s about getting what you want in life. You can go get it.
“If what you want is to just sit around and party every day, and do drugs and everything, then that’s what your life is going to be. And for someone like that, I could never give any advice to, because that’s what they want. But if they want to get out of there, I hope that they could see what I’ve done, and be inspired and see that it is possible, and realize that some small town kids don’t have to be small town kids their whole life. There’s a great big world out there for everyone, and anybody who has the guts to take it by the horns and take it, anybody that has the guts to take it for themselves, they can do it. It’s just a matter of what you want, and if you want it you can do it.”
The fights will be held at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati. Tickets for the 13-fight May 10 event are available to UFC Fight Club and UFC Newsletter subscribers at 10 a.m. March 19 and 20. The tickets will go on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. March 21.