SAN JOSE, Calif. — Not all seven-fight winning streaks are created equal.
Whether it be a controversial decision or a couple of overmatched opponents along the way, runs like that can be artificially padded.
That certainly hasn’t been the case for Matt Brown. He has six finishes during his current run and controlled the one unanimous decision, an April 2012 victory over Stephen Thompson, from start to finish.
He has also been the underdog in four of the seven victories. The oddsmakers expect Brown to lose yet again tonight when he fights Robbie Lawler to determine the top welterweight contender in the main event of UFC on Fox 12 at SAP Center.
Brown, who will enter as a plus-300 underdog, doesn’t know whether he’ll ever get respect at the betting window, and, frankly, he doesn’t care.
“I anticipate being a favorite, maybe, if I’m champion and they put me against some retard or something,” Brown said. “That’s irrelevant in my mind. I don’t care about the odds at all. The only way I know is if you guys tell me.”
Questionable choice of words aside, it’s an attitude that has served Brown well in his career. He considers himself a long shot to win from the moment he enters training camp regardless of the opponent.
“If I was fighting one of you (media) guys who doesn’t even train, I would look at myself as the underdog. That’s how I see it,” he said. “I come into camp with the mindset of ‘I’m weak. I suck. I’m no good. I have a ton of work to do.’ That creates a fear in my mind and that fear creates motivation, which creates drive, which creates energy.
“Now by the time I get to this point the week of the fight, I’m no longer afraid.”
It’s no surprise Brown has no fear when he enters a fight. The 33-year-old Ohioan has faced much worse outside the cage than he ever could inside it. He was a drug addict who barely survived a heroin overdose before he turned his life around and discovered mixed martial arts.
Perhaps that’s one of the reasons he refuses to be finished during competition. He has never been knocked out in a professional fight. Brown was in all sorts of trouble against Erick Silva in May but was able to survive a vicious body shot and a deep choke attempt.
Lawler would like to be the first to knock Brown out, though he hasn’t put much thought into how he plans to do it.
“I’m not too worried about his durability or whatever. I just need to worry about me clicking on all cylinders. I can’t try to be the guy to finish him,” Lawler said. “Those things come with good technique.”
Lawler has been on an impressive streak of his own, winning four of five since returning to the UFC in February 2013. The only loss came to Johny Hendricks by controversial decision in March.
A win tonight would earn him a chance at redemption against the champion.
The matchup with Brown has the potential to be a classic as it pits two fighters who have great chins and a demonstrated willingness to brawl in the cage.
Light heavyweight Anthony Johnson, who will fight Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in the second-to-last fight on the card, said he is looking forward to checking out the main event.
“I don’t want them to cut my gloves off or anything,” he said. “When my fight ends, just sit me in front of a chair and let me watch.”
Lawler and Brown are downplaying that part of the fight to an extent. Brown said he doesn’t even really know what’s going on in the cage until the fight ends and he has a chance to go back and analyze what happened.
Lawler insisted he has no desire to ensure that the bout lives up to the billing as a potential fight of the year.
“I’m not trying to go in there and mess around,” the 32-year-old said. “I’m certainly not looking to go back and forth with this guy, who’s a really good opponent. I’m looking to dictate and dominate this fight.”
That’s something nobody has been able to do against Brown for quite some time. He sat at 12-11 in his career when his winning streak began and now finds himself on the verge of fighting for a UFC title with one more upset victory.
He’s not fazed a bit.
“Just another fight. Nothing more to it. Same old thing,” Brown said. “I’m not concerned about how I’m going to feel after the fight, because who knows how it’s going to go? One task at a time.”
The main card, which airs live at 5 p.m. on Fox, also includes a featherweight bout between Clay Guida and Dennis Bermudez and a lightweight matchup pitting Josh Thomson against Bobby Green.
The four-fight live preliminary card will also air on the network, beginning at 3. The first four fights on the card stream on the organization’s online platform Fight Pass at 1 p.m.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.