Matt Brown will enter the cage on the strength of six straight wins. | Photo: Sherdog.com
Matt Brown wants to be more than a feel-good story.
Once regarded as little more than an entertaining journeyman, Brown will put his six-fight winning streak on the line when he meets Erick Silva in the UFC Fight Night “Brown vs. Silva” main event on Saturday at the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati. Stakes are undeniably high for both men.
Brown has finished his past four opponents, though his rise was slowed by a recent back injury. The 33-year-old last competed at UFC Fight Night “Shogun vs. Sonnen” in August, when he laid waste to Mike Pyle in just 29 seconds at the TD Garden in Boston. A quarterfinalist on Season 7 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Brown has secured 16 of his 18 career victories by knockout, technical knockout or submission.
A black belt in judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Silva has won seven times in his last 10 appearances. The 29-year-old former Jungle Fight champion has not fought since UFC Fight Night “Machida vs. Mousasi” in February, when he obliterated reigning welterweight King of Pancrase Takenori Sato in less than a minute at Arena Jaragua in Jaragua do Sul, Brazil. Silva has not recorded back-to-back wins since he touched down in the Ultimate Fighting Championship nearly three years ago.
The UFC Fight Night “Brown vs. Silva” lineup supplies plenty of water cooler fodder. We discuss some of it here:
Whitman: It has been some time since Brown has been in the cage, and the oddsmakers have him as the underdog against Silva. Do you agree with that assessment of the main event or should Brown get more respect considering his winning streak?
Knapp: I do not agree with making Brown the underdog. Look, there is a lot to like about Silva. He is an explosive athlete with well-rounded skills, but let us not ignore the fact that he has underperformed to a certain extent since arriving in the UFC. Brown, meanwhile, is a classic overachiever who has maximized his abilities. Are there paths to victory in this fight for Silva? Of course. However, Brown has the momentum on his side, along with the Octagon experience and an unquestioned appetite for combat.
Whitman: What are the stakes for Brown in this main event? Will a win thrust him into the welterweight title picture?
Knapp: I think if Brown wins again, especially if he does so in decisive fashion, you certainly have to consider him a contender at 170 pounds. Seven-fight streaks are not the norm in the UFC, and a victory over Silva in an event headliner would put Brown position to at the very least call for a title eliminator against one of the division’s top dogs. It really is too bad the matchup with Carlos Condit did not happen at UFC on Fox 9.
Whitman: Lorenz Larkin and Costas Philippou were surging for a time, but now neither can afford a defeat. Who do you like in this battle of very different strikers?
Knapp: I favor Larkin by a slight margin because of the diversity he brings to the table, particularly his kicks. That is not to discount Philippou’s considerable boxing chops, as he has the ability to change the course of a fight in a blink. However, I expect Larkin to outpoint him on the feet.
Whitman: Erik Koch and Daron Cruickshank are two of the more impressive standup fighters on the UFC roster, albeit lighter ones. I think Cruickshank could be in for a rough night because of Koch’s aggression, technique and speed. Do you agree?
Knapp: You could argue that this is the most intriguing matchup on the card. Free from the weight cut that was giving him fits at 145 pounds, Koch looks like a potential killer in the lightweight division. I think he beats Cruickshank handily, but you can never fully count out “The Detroit Superstar,” who always seems to be a breath away from executing something spectacular.
Whitman: Ruan Potts is a nice heavyweight prospect out of South Africa, but Soa Palelei has been on quite a run himself. Whom are you leaning towards in his matchup of big men?
Knapp: It is always hard to handicap heavyweight fights. When big men throw big fists, it often results in unexpected finishes. They have gone the distance only once in 32 fights between them, so it is safe to assume this one probably ends early. Potts has never fought outside of South Africa, and it might take him some time to get acclimated to the bright lights of the UFC. Give me Palelei by first-round technical knockout.
Whitman: In another worthy flyweight tilt, Kyoji Horiguchi meets Darrell Montague. Following Horiguchi’s beatdown of the much larger Dustin Pague at 135 pounds, I have to favor the Krazy Bee representative over the former Tachi Palace Fights champion. Do you agree?
Knapp: This bout will tell us a lot about Horiguchi, as Montague has been considered a top 10-15 flyweight for some time now. If Horiguchi handles him, and I expect him to, we have a contender on our hands at 125 pounds.