In the UFC, it's extremely rare to win five bouts in a row and not be anywhere near the title conversation.
However, if you're 32-year-old veteran Matt Brown, that's exactly the predicament he finds himself in leading up to his UFC on FOX Sports 1: #1 bout with Thiago Alves this August.
While the heavy-handed striker wasn't willing to call the fight with "The Pitbull" the biggest of his career, he acknowledged that it's easily the toughest match up he's had to date.
"Every fight is the biggest fight of your career," Brown told Bleacher Report. "This one, I think, with the potential for what can happen after, could make it the biggest one. However, the last fight (before this) was the biggest one. Ya know, if you lose a fight, in the next one you need to get on the winning track. No doubt though, this is my toughest and highest regarded opponent.
Alves, well-known for his Muay Thai skills, has notched 11 knockouts in 19 career victories.
Despite that fact, the former Ultimate Fighter competitor has no reservations about standing and trading with his Brazilian counterpart.
"I don't hesitate to fight anyone in any area. We know where his strength is, but there's holes in that too, just like there's holes in my game," Brown said succinctly.
While Brown wouldn't predict the outcome of his August 17 showdown, he guaranteed the fans an exciting fight.
"I'm going to be at my best, 100% well-prepared, ready to go to war. I expect this to be my toughest fight, but a "Fight of the Night" type of performance (as well)."
Unbeknownst to most fans, the Ohio native actually boasts the third best win streak in the UFC's welterweight division, behind only champion Georges St-Pierre (11 wins) and upcoming title challenger Johny Hendricks (six wins).
Brown indicated that he expects their UFC 167 showdown in November to be a pretty predictable affair, giving Hendricks a fighting chance, but not much more than that.
"I can see Hendricks catching him, giving (GSP) some problems early. But, Hendricks seems pretty linear, simple, straightforward in his approach to fighting...all of his knockouts came from the same punch, the same set ups. Unless he brings something new to the table, I'd say GSP is prepared. It's really hard to imagine Hendricks even being able to outwrestle St-Pierre. GSP by decision ... (he) ain't submitting or TKO-ing anybody."
While he would not go as far as to call out the winner of that fight, Brown made it no secret he has title aspirations before he hangs up the gloves for good.
"Whoever has the title I'd like to fight, but (if I get offered someone) other than that, it doesn't really matter."
In an ideal world, Brown would like to face "Rush" for the welterweight title in the foreseeable future a fight he thinks he can win decisively.
"I would rather beat GSP (as opposed to Hendricks) since he's probably going to be a hall-of-famer, a living legend: I want to beat the legend. GSP would not stand with me and would definitely look to take me down, but my wrestling is on a completely different level from what people have seen from me. I've been training with the Ohio ROTC wrestling team (in Columbus, Ohio) for years now, guys with Olympic aspirations, the best wrestling team in America. I don't think GSP can wrestle as well as any of those guys."
"The Immortal" not only believes he can negate St-Pierre's wrestling, but he also thinks the French-Canadian superstar would be fearful of his aggression and knockout power.
"I think he'd be scared to get close enough to hit me because I'm not going to avoid anything he throws. I'm going to step right in the pocket and throw down. He's not going to have any option but to be on the feet with me. Even if he has the skills to stand, he would not be able to handle my pressure, tenacity and desire to win. I think I'm one of the worst match ups for GSP."
"Everyone thinks I'm delusional and crazy for thinking that, but I know who I am. If I go in there the best I can be, I know I'd destroy GSP. When I come in against GSP, I'm going in to take the belt from him, I'm not going to play around with the world title on the line. I'm 110% confident, if I show up at my best, he does not stand a chance in hell against me. This match up with Thiago is a far tougher match up for me than GSP."
Brown is a perennial underdog, even after his recent career resurgence, which includes a 4-0 mark in 2012.
As far as he's concerned though, that's just as well, joking that some friends got a little richer by betting on him in his most recent fight against Jordan Mein at UFC on FOX 8 in April.
Brown won the fight by round 2 TKO.
"You know, the people that make the betting lines...I just take it for what it is. It's not like they know anything about MMA. A lot of my friends won a lot of money on that fight. I assume I'm the underdog against Alves and that's fine with me."
Surprisingly, he simply attributes turning his career around to "handling his distractions better," and that he was "in a bad place mentally" during his 0-3 campaign in 2011.
Three losses in the UFC more often than not means a fighter is getting cut, so that's fully what Brown expected.
"After that, I really wasn't even keeping up with MMA news since it was Thanksgiving time, so I was spending time with the family," he said regarding various media reports that the UFC had cut ties with him after a loss Brian Foster at UFC 123.
"I just assumed I was cut, reading a news story would've just confirmed what I already thought. I was shocked when my manager called and said 'You've got an early Christmas present, you aren't cut from the UFC.'"
Despite his current hot streak, Brown remains unranked by the UFC, as well as most media outlets that compile top-10 lists of the best fighters in each weight class.
The fan friendly brawler sees it as standard procedure that he's still being overlooked and basically sees rankings, besides the official ones compiled by the UFC, as pointless.
"I'm not surprised I'm still unranked. The people that make the rankings ... they don't know what they're talking about. How many of those guys are former professional fighters, martial arts experts? They're journalists, fans...who can have respected opinions, but unless your actually a fighter, how can you know? I think it's necessary for the fans and it makes sense for the UFC to have their official rankings. Otherwise, media rankings don't mean much (to me).
As is par for the course leading up to UFC 162, it was imperative that Brown gave his opinion on the headlining middleweight title fight between Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman.
While he is rooting for "The All-American," Brown was very clear that his pick is Silva.
"It's hard to bet against Anderson, especially against someone whose only had nine fights. He's definitely never fought anybody like Anderson. At the same time, (Weidman) is probably one of the worst match ups for a guy like Anderson. I'll be rooting for Chris Weidman, I've met him and hung out with him a few times, but to put a guy with nine fights against Anderson...we know what Anderson can do, we don't know what Chris Weidman can do."
"We haven't seen Chris Weidman in those kind of waters before. Anderson Silva has defended his title more times (10) than Weidman has fought. We've never seen Weidman in trouble or even just a really tough three-round fight...just so many things about him we haven't seen. I think it's crazy to pick Weidman over Anderson based on what we know."
Brown also addressed an old internet rumor that his nickname came from a heroin overdose years ago, which he obviously survived. In this case, the rumor is actually true.
"My friends started calling me 'The Immortal' after a heroin overdose in either 2002 and 2003 and I've had other brushes with death besides that," he recalled. "A fight promoter on the regional scene just threw the name out there before a fight one time, and it just stuck. I never actually wanted the nickname, but I started to like it after that."
Finally, while it wasn't on purpose, Brown credits MMA for getting his life moving on the right track.
"I was naive at the time (of the heroin overdose), I didn't understand what I'd done and how big of a deal it actually was. Over time, I started realizing how far I was going in the wrong direction and how much I needed change. I started training MMA because I enjoyed it and eventually I realized I enjoyed that more than partying."
With a victory over a former UFC title challenger in Thiago Alves this August, Brown would have a serious case to get a crack at the welterweight gold sooner than later.
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All quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report unless otherwise noted.