In hometown, UFC veteran Brown gets chance to shine

Not only will Matt Brown finally fight in his hometown of Cincinnati tonight, he will headline an Ultimate Fighting Championship card for the first time.

The veteran welterweight is doing everything he can to make his bout against Erick Silva feel like any other fight.

“I’m staying at the UFC hotel like I normally would and my family is staying at home,” Brown said Wednesday as he prepared for the main event of UFC Fight Night 40. “It’s really cool (to have the event in Cincinnati), but to me it feels just like it would being anywhere else, and I like to keep it that way.”

Brown is also getting used to the increased media attention. Main event fighters are typically tasked with handling much of the promotional responsibilities, but that has been particularly true of Brown fighting at home.

“It’s a completely new experience, but a good one,” he said. “I’m having a fun time with it, but it’s all about what happens on Saturday. This other stuff is just white noise. I just try to enjoy it as much as I can, but it’s not really what’s important.”

The experience will be a benefit for Brown, who will be getting a whole lot more attention if he keeps winning. The 33-year-old has won six straight fights after a stretch of four losses in five fights left him with a 12-11 record as a pro and an uncertain future in the UFC.

Brown attributes his run of success to his ability to stay focused on the task at hand through whatever distractions or adversity comes his way.

That may have something to do with his past. Brown earned his nickname, “The Immortal,” after surviving a near-fatal heroin overdose more than a decade ago that left him clinically dead for a minute.

Bouncing back from a tough stretch of losses seems trivial by comparison.

“It’s just a matter of staying with it and working hard every day, you know, just never giving up on it,” Brown said of his career. “Not really thinking about the past and just trying to find a way to focus only on what’s in front of you and how to conquer that next obstacle.

“It’s probably difficult for some people, but not me. I have the mental fortitude that I can just look ahead. I don’t know if it’s who I am or what I’ve been through, but I don’t let those things bother me like some people might.”

Brown’s career surge hit a bit of a snag in late 2013. He was booked for a bout with top contender Carlos Condit with the knowledge a win could put him in immediate title contention.

Then, Brown suffered a back injury and had to withdraw from the fight.

Now, fully healthy, Brown draws an extremely talented up-and-comer with less name recognition than Condit. A win would still be huge for his progress in the division, but won’t carry the same cachet as a win over Condit. A loss would be crippling to Brown’s assault on the title.

He will enter the cage as nearly a 2-1 underdog, but Brown remains unfazed, citing the constantly looking ahead mentality that has led to his winning streak.

At least, Brown has the hometown advantage. He doesn’t foresee any added pressure with so many friends and family expected to be cheering him on.

“I try to remain pretty indifferent to it all,” he said. “No matter where you’re fighting, everyone is watching anyway. They just happen to be watching from the stands instead of on TV. It’s no different.”

The main card, which also includes a middleweight bout between Lorenz Larkin and Costa Philippou, airs live on Fox Sports 1 (Cable 329) at 7 p.m.

Four fights from the preliminary card air on Fox Sports 2 (Cable 319) at 5 p.m. The remaining three fights will stream on the UFC’s online Fight Pass platform, starting at 3:30 p.m.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.

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