When Matt Brown talks, you get the sense that he’s allergic to bullshit, that he probably belongs in an era before they invented the treadmill or the heart rate monitor, and that he skipped a few classes in social etiquette during grade school to scrap on the playground.
For him, this #1 contender fight against Robbie Lawler is “just another fight . . . the same old thing.”
He doesn’t feel any pressure to deliver the fight of the year. And if you believe him, at least at this moment, he doesn’t even care if he wins. For him, every fight is about living entirely within each compartmentalized moment that exists throughout the experience.
“My focus has zero to do with outcomes,” he said. “It’s all about the moment.”
For instance, when Matt is waiting in his room before the fight, his only thought is performing the best possible warm up that he can. In fact, he is so focused on each immediate segment of time, that he has “no idea what is going on” during the fight itself, whether he is having a good fight, a bad fight, winning or losing.
His only concern once the action starts is staying one step ahead of his opponent. And that amounts to this: “I punch him before he punches me. That’s about all it really is.”
So why such a live-in-the-second approach? He becomes philosophical for a moment. “You build a beautiful forest by making a bunch of beautiful trees.”
Speaking of trees, a lumberjacking Erick Silva chopped Matt down with a body kick during the early moments of their fight at UFC Fight Night 40. The blow temporarily crippled Brown and Silva nearly finished the fight on the ground. But Matt rallied back, destroyed Silva viciously in the third. How did he do it? By getting punched in the face, of course.
“It had a lot to do with experience. I exposed my face to be punch so that he wouldn’t punch my body.”
If he’d taken one more body shot, “it would have been over,” he speculated.
“So I exposed my neck and my face . . . Head shots are way less painful than body shots.” Body shots “are the worst thing in the world.”
Unfortunately, Lawler is capable of punishing Brown with body shots this weekend. Robbie is a heavy favorite, (-380) to Brown’s (+290) according to Bodog.
Asked what it would feel like to be a favorite in a fight, Brown imagined, “Maybe I’m champion or something. Maybe they put me against some retard or something.” That’s going to bother some people. But I doubt he cares. Because he likes being considered the least likely to succeed, even by himself. It “creates a fear in my mind, and that fear creates motivation, which creates drive, which creates energy.”
So Matt’s established that he’s gritty. Yes, he’s Brown like the mud under a 1960’s era John Deere tractor. For instance, take a look at his preparation for the fight.
He says they abandoned “smart training” altogether and returned to “hard training.” The whole idea of worrying about things like over-training annoyed him. “Fuck that,” he said.
“Let’s go back to being raw, crazy, stupid sons of bitches in our backyard, just wrecking each other every day.”
He actually did that. He trained in his back yard.
“We beat the shit out of each other every day.”
“We were carrying fucking wheelbarrows and sleds, running up mountains, and picking each other up. I throw a man 100 times, it’s better than picking up a weight 50 times, or two thousand hundred times.” That’s a lot of times.
According to Brown, it’s the kind of training that got him to the UFC.
So he’s training like a caveman, and interviewing a little bit like one too. But back to that “staying in the moment” business. Does Matt Brown want to win or not? Even he admits that trying to narrow his focus, detached from that ultimate desire to record a win, is a “conundrum.”
And while we can admire his short-vision brand of sports psychology, let’s not be fooled. He wants to win. In fact, he says he will win the fight even if he has to cut his arm off. A novel approach indeed, unless Lawler is slinging bear traps or ties him to a chair in Round 2. But listen to Brown in this video and you just might believe that it’s something he is capable of doing.