A Look Back at Matt Brown’s MMA Career
While he may not have been the winningest MMA fighter of all time, and while he was not in the true main event of the UFC’s Fight Night event in Norfolk, Virginia, on Saturday night, Matt Brown’s career was celebrated.
The event, which saw Matt Brown defeat Diego Sanchez via first-round knockout, may have marked the end of Brown’s career as a professional MMA fighter.
“I gave it all I got. Thanks for coming out guys, keep supporting UFC!” Brown said after the bout.
Brown’s journey into professional MMA began in his hometown of Jamestown, Ohio. Brown competed in bodybuilding, but his start in MMA came following an addiction to drugs and alcohol. Wanting a way out of the party-boy lifestyle, Brown took up martial arts classes, starting with a Japanese jiu-jitsu class before finding his way into MMA.
When friends learned he had survived an overdose of heroin, Brown was given his nickname of “The Immortal.”
Brown’s MMA career started on Oct. 8, 2005, when he scored his first victory, via neck-crank submission, in just under three minutes. He followed that up with a 39-second knockout win before going the distance in a loss to UFC alumnus Pete Spratt.
Brown’s career then went into periods of ups and downs, something that would remain with him until his final fight. After dropping to 3-3, Brown went on a three-fight win streak, capped off with an ISCF East Coast welterweight title win over current Bellator champion Douglas Lima. But just as a win streak came his way, a losing skid came, too. Brown then lost three of his next four, including a loss to eventual fellow UFC fighter Chris Lytle.
Following the Lytle fight, Brown’s record went to 7-6. Despite his then-recent losing ways, Brown made it onto the seventh season of The Ultimate Fighter. Brown made it to the quarterfinals before losing to Amir Sadollah, who would go on to win the tournament. But at the season finale, Brown competed in his first official UFC bout, defeating Matt Arroyo via second-round TKO.
After dropping a bout to Dong Hyun Kim at UFC 88, Brown won three straight, highlighted by a first-round knockout of Pete Sell at UFC 96, before losing another three straight, including another bout with Lytle — this time at UFC 116.
After splitting his next two bouts, Brown’s career elevated with a big seven-fight win streak, which included victories over Stephen Thompson, Mike Swick, Mike Pyle and Erick Silva. Brown then received his biggest UFC opportunity — but that marked the beginning of the end of highlights.
Brown took on Robbie Lawler in a welterweight title eliminator in July 2014, a fight which Brown lost. To add insult to injury, Brown missed weight by two-and-a-half pounds for that fight. Between that point and the UFC Norfolk event, Brown fought five times, with his only win coming against Tim Means at UFC 189. Brown dropped bouts to Johny Hendricks at UFC 185, Demian Maia at UFC 198, Jake Ellenberger at UFC 201 and Donald Cerrone at UFC 206 (the latest of which many say Brown was winning two rounds to none entering the third round, where Cerrone knocked him out with a head kick).
Following the Ellenberger fight, which Brown lost via first-round TKO, Brown experienced various post-concussion symptoms, and the knockout loss to Cerrone certainly did not help things. In fact, Brown had been questioning his MMA future since the loss to Ellenberger.
But during the broadcast of the Brown vs. Sanchez fight, it was noted that Brown enjoyed the training camp so much, he may have had second thoughts about retirement.
“I’ll talk about it over the holidays, but I had to keep focused on Diego,” Brown said.