For Matt Brown, there is just one man left for him to topple: Johny Hendricks.
Following a seventh consecutive victory at UFC Fight Night 40 Saturday night, Brown was asked during the FOX Sports 1 post-fight show who he wanted next.
“Johny Hendricks,” said Brown, looking directly into the eyes of the interview with blinking.
Brown (19-11) overcame a slow start vs. Silva to delight the Cincinnati crowd with his fifth straight finish. He has stopped six of his seven opponents during his win streak, which started after losing three of four from 2010-11.
This one, though, was more emotional for “The Immortal.” It was his first main event, five-round fight and he was competing in front of friends and family in his native state of Ohio.
“I came out and I was a little cold,” Brown said. “It was my first main event. I warmed up right, but then had to wait for the main event to start. I don’t know how to prepare for that. I was cold.”
Brown showed his humorous side, something he doesn’t normally reveal in interviews, when he said, “I guess I’ll have to ask Jon Jones” about getting preparing for main events. Jones is the reigning UFC light heavyweight champion and has fought in numerous headline fights.
As for a fight with Hendricks, that would have to wait until later in the year. The UFC welterweight champion is recovering from bicep surgery, an injury he suffered in March while defeating Robbie Lawler to win the vacant title.
UFC president Dana White stopped by “UFC Tonight” earlier this week to discuss UFC Fight Night 40. The card takes place this evening, and FightLine will be providing complete coverage of all the action.
In the main event, welterweights Matt Brown and Erick Silva square off. Brown is on a six-fight win streak, while Silva enters the contest as a 2-to-1 favorite in the betting circles.
White thinks both Vegas and the official UFC rankings are crazy.
“Matt is ranked No. 7 and has been looking for respect for forever now,” White said. “The guy has destroyed everybody he’s fought. He feels like he’s been disrespected for so long. He’s done so much and should have an opportunity to fight for the title soon.
“Erick, who’s ranked 14th; I think there’s no way he’s 14th. In Vegas, the odds have Erick as a favorite. It’s driving Matt Brown crazy. He says he’s going to knock him out, like everyone else, and is going to finally get his respect.”
A pair of middleweights will meet in the co-main, as Costas Philippou and Lorenz Larkin try to get back on track after recent losses.
“Larkin is a tough guy. He’s been around a long time and he’s another guy, with a great performance, could earn some respect,” White said. “I think this is going to be an absolute stand-up war and somebody is getting knocked out.”
Michael Bisping, a training partner of Larkin’s, stated much the same during a recent interview with FightLine.
While White believes both the main and co-main will deliver, he’s focusing on another bout on the main card to surprise people.
“I love the (Erik) Koch vs. (Daron) Cruickshank fight,” White said. “Both guys are coming off impressive wins. I think that fight will be an absolute war.”
According to multiple reports, Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez has suffered a concussion in training and will not be cleared to fight Michael Chandler next Saturday at Bellator 120.
Bellator was forced to crown an interim champion after Eduardo Dantas suffered a concussion in training and his return was left up in the air. UFC lightweight contender TJ Grant has been sidelined since early last year after he went down with a concussion while preparing for a world title fight.
Alvarez and Chandler are set for a third meeting in a highly-promoted pay-per-view fight for Bellator. The promotion had to cancel plans for a PPV last year after an injury to Tito Ortiz. They went with Alvarez-Chandler in a rematch and placed the event on Spike TV.
Officials with Bellator have yet to release any information regarding the reports, which also state Will Brooks would be selected to replace Alvarez and meet Chandler. Brooks (13-1) was the season nine lightweight tournament winner.
Set for May 17 from Southaven, Mississippi, the card currently features bouts pitting Quinton “Rampage” Jackson against Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal, Ortiz vs. middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko in a non-title fight and Michael Page vs. Ricky Rainey.
MAIN CARD (PPV/10 p.m. ET)
Bellator Lightweight Championship
Eddie Alvarez (c) vs. Michael Chandler
Bellator Light Heavyweight Tournament Final
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson vs. Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal
Light Heavyweight: Tito Ortiz vs. Alexander Shlemenko
Lightweight: Will Brooks vs. Nate Jolly
Welterweight: Michael Page vs. Rickey Rainey
PRELIMINARY CARD (Spike TV/8 p.m. ET)
Heavyweight: Cheick Kongo vs. Eric Smith
Bellator Heavyweight Tournament Final
Alexander Volkov vs. Blagoi Ivanov
Featherweight: Shahbulat Shamhalaev vs. Fabricio Guerreiro
Featherweight: Mike Richman vs. Goiti Yamauchi
PRELIMINARY CARD (Spike.com/6 p.m. ET)
Featherweight: Austin Lyons vs. Zach Underwood
Heavyweight: Justin Frazier vs. Mike Wessel
Welterweight: Ben Brewer vs. Andy Uhrich
Welterweight: Anthony Lemon vs. Codie Shuffield
Bantamweight: Brian Hall vs. Cortez Phelia
There was no UFC event this past weekend, but the official rankings were still updated.
TJ Grant and Nate Diaz were removed from the lightweight Top-15. And while Grant simply stated he plans to be back ranked as soon as he can, Diaz took a different path.
The Diaz path.
On Instagram, the former title contender posted a screenshot of Anthony Pettis’ recent fights, adding, “UFC Lol this is inactivity.” The picture, which you can see below, shows Pettis fighting Benson Henderson last August, Donald Cerrone last January, Joe Lauzon in early 2012 and Jeremy Stephens late in 2011.
Pettis, the UFC lightweight champion, has went through a handful of injuries over the past three years, keeping him from fighting. Currently, he is rehabbing and preparing to coach on The Ultimate Fighter 20 against Gilbert Melendez.
Just for the sake of comparison, since Pettis fought Stephens in 2011, Diaz has competed five times. He did fight four times total in 2011.
Matt Brown doesn’t believe any of his past six wins were a product of luck. Instead, he says it is his dedication to his craft.
Brown returns to the Octagon Saturday to meet Erick Silva in the main event of UFC Fight Night 40 from Cincinnati. He stopped by “UFC Tonight” earlier this week to talk about his six-fight win streak.
“There ain’t no luck in this sport,” Brown said. “You know how hard I’ve worked to make my right hand work? Plus, I started wrestling these past year. I never did in my life.
“Not only does it help you with your confidence with the takedown, my foundation, my base and my overall strength has improved with working with these wrestlers.”
The welterweight division holds some of the elite wrestlers in all of MMA, as champion Johny Hendricks was a standout collegiate wrestler at Oklahoma State University. Former champ Georges St-Pierre used his takedowns and takedown defense to hold the belt for years, while Robbie Lawler, Tyron Woodley, Jake Ellenberger and Kelvin Gastelum have all shown their prowess on the canvas.
“There’s no secret (to the win streak),” Brown stated. “I stayed on the grind. I kept working hard every day. I stayed in the gum and I didn’t let it get me down. I didn’t let it slow me down.
“I stayed true to who I am. If you work hard enough, the good things are going to happen to you. Whether it’s success in the Octagon or out of it.”