MATT BROWN IS A FIGHTER THAT HASN’T ALWAYS BEEN SUCCESSFUL. As of 9 May 2014, his record stands at an unimpressive 18-11. He is currently riding a six fight win streak and will face the young phenom in Erik Silva. But what makes Matt Brown a true fighter, is not his experience in the cage or his training in the gym. Matt Brown is a fighter because of the demons he has had to defeat to get to where he is today.
Bitterness, misery, disappointment, emptiness, loss. These are demons we face and fight on a daily basis. Some more than others. Over time, we slowly get used to these demons. They wear on some people more than others. To professional fighters who make a living and support their families in the cage. To professional fighters who are mercilessly judged based on their last fight. Losing can be devastating to their careers and their livelihood. Actually, this doesn’t sound too unlike you and me.
They say that you don’t know what winning truly is until you’ve lost. They say you don’t know what happiness truly is until you’ve experienced tragedy. And that you aren’t able to fully appreciate life until you’ve come close to death. Most of us will never get the opportunity to see attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion or c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. But what we can do is learn from our mistakes, learn from our losses, and become a better person, a better fighter.
Matt Brown was born in Xenia, Ohio. His father owned a machine shop where Matt brown worked. He went to the local Greeneview High School where he did well in sports and academics with minimal motivation and minimal effort. Life was simple, life was plain, life was slipping away, quietly, passively. As a naïve youngster in a placid environment, Matt Brown inevitably turned to crime for income and excitement. He sold acid and heroin. He became addicted to drugs and alcohol. At the age of 23, Matt Brown overdosed on heroin and was clinically dead for almost a minute. But Matt Brown was too far gone in this lifestyle. When he was released from the hospital, he was still floating in his Plainville life, no next step to jump to. The overdose didn’t help him realize the gravity of his situation and he continued to deal drugs. It wasn’t until his friend Bear, Bear’s brother, and Bear’s mom all died of OxyContin overdose within the span of three months did he finally see the deep pit he had fallen into.
In each of us, underneath everything, there is an emptiness. The feeling that we are nothing and that we are all alone. Maybe Matt Brown drank and did drugs because he felt this emptiness and needed something to fill it. He didn’t have many good options or ideas and turned to what was easy and available. In 2004, Matt Brown finally faced the demon of emptiness. After watching his friends die, he realized he needed to change his life. It was by accident that he caught a Wanderlei Silva fight that inspired him to pursue MMA. In 2004, I’d like to think it was the exciting fight against Rampage Jackson that inspired me to follow MMA too.
In 2005, Matt Brown turned pro. Unlike many UFC fighters that boast undefeated records going into the promotion, Matt Brown lost his third fight against Pete Spratt, a former UFC fighter. He won his fourth fight, but lost his fifth and his sixth. Matt Brown might have turned to MMA as his saving grace, but there were entirely new demons that Matt had to face. Losing and disappointment. Going into 2008, Matt Brown had a record of 7-6. He was an exciting fighter that finished all his fights except one. This record includes a win over Matt Arroyo and Douglas Lima as well as a loss to Chris Lytle.
In 2008 Matt Brown was given a chance on Season 7 of The Ultimate Fighter: Rampage Jackson vs Forrest Griffin. It could be very well that Matt Brown caught a lucky break. It’s difficult to imagine how a fighter with a record of 7-6 would make it against such incredible competition. This is the show that featured phenomenal fighters like CB Dolloway, Matt Riddle, Gerald Harris, Tim Credeur, Jesse Taylor, and season winner Amir Sadollah.
Entering the UFC is an outstanding opportunity that not many fighters get. But this is only the beginning of Matt Brown’s volatile career. On The Ultimate Fighter, Matt Brown was submitted by Amir Sadollah in the quarter-finals. A disappointment. During the season finale show, he fought and won against Matt Arroyo. A win. Then three months later lost a split decision to Dong Hyun Kim. More disappointment. Then three straight wins, and three straight losses. It’s hard to build a promotion around someone that doesn’t consistently win. Especially when during this period of time, the focus on the welterweight division was entirely on George St-Pierre and who could beat the most dominant UFC Welterweight Champion ever. But Matt Brown is tough and continues to fight. He’s proven that inside and outside of the cage.
Matt Brown is currently riding a six fight win streak. But the people he’s beat in the welterweight division aren’t exactly the top contenders. He’s beat tough fighters in Mike Pyle, Jordan Mein, Mike Swick, John Howard, and even James Wilks. But he hasn’t tested himself against the likes of Jake Ellenberger, Hector Lombard, Rory MacDonald or Jake Shields. The Carlos Condit fight never happened. The Demian Maia fight never happened. He hasn’t proven himself against a welterweight star yet.
That’s why a lot of fight fans are so excited for his next fight against Erik Silva. Erik Silva being the welterweight prospect brimming with potentially. The young and dynamic fighter that has finished most of his UFC fights within the first round. Is Matt Brown going to pass this test? Is he going to continue his win streak and potentially fight a top five contender and eventually for the Welterweight Championship? Or is Erik Silva going to pass his test and provide the UFC with the young exciting star they need to re-invigorate the welterweight division.
The emptiness, the disappointment, the frustration, the losses that pile up. These demons exist somewhere deep down in all of us. Each day, we find the strength, the courage, and the inspiration to motivate ourselves in achieving what we must achieve and doing what we must do. Sometimes our demons get the better of us. But funny how if it weren’t for our demons, we may never see the attack ships, the c-beams, the things that others will never believe. The great master Renzo Gracie once said “Everyone is fighting something”. Most of us don’t have a six fight win streak. But like Matt Brown, we’ve all had our battles, and there is plenty more fighting to do.