Matt "The Immortal" Brown will face No. 1-ranked UFC welterweight Robbie Lawler in the main event of UFC on Fox 12 on July 26.
There will be violence. There will be blood.
These are two of the most vicious 170-pound men on the planet, and when Brown steps into the UFC Octagon to take on Lawler, fans can expect a finish one way or another.
In 17 of 19 victories, Brown earned a submission or a knockout. In 11 losses, he's tapped out nine times.
On the other side of the cage, Lawler boasts 20 finishes (19 knockouts) in 23 career wins, and only four of his 10 career losses have come via decision.
When the lights go down and Bruce Buffer introduces the fighters in San Jose, California, Brown will be ready. He knows what he's gotten himself into, and he's approaching his No. 1 contender's bout with Lawler the same as he would any other fight.
"It's just a fight. I've pretty much been staying so busy training and preparing that I really don't have a lot of time to think about it," Brown told Bleacher Report. "I didn't consciously rev it up (my training). I've been doing this for long enough, I think I understand how to train, I think I know how to get my body where it needs to be, so I don't think I need to do anything dramatically different than what I already know to do."
Staying the course seems a solid option for The Immortal. He's on a seven-fight winning streak, with six of those seven wins coming via knockout. He's earned a reputation as an aggressive, ferocious beast once the cage door locks, an attitude stemming from his inherent love of the fight game.
"I train really hard, I believe in myself and it just comes from my natural enjoyment of fighting. It's what I enjoy doing," Brown said. "I don't really enjoy just sitting there, playing around, pitter pattering and jabbing, having a jab battle or whatever. I want to get in there and see who's better and I want to have a fight."
Just a few years ago, this "kill or be killed" mentality worked against him.
From March of 2010 to November of 2011, Brown posted a 1-4 record in the UFC. With a 12-11 career record, Brown was barely a .500 fighter, and he began to wonder if he'd already tasted the sweetest nectar the sport had to offer him.
"After I lost one of the fights—I can't remember which one now—but after I lost one, I was looking around and asking, 'What else am I going to do with myself?' I was looking at other career options," Brown said. "I remember calling my manager and saying, 'If I can't be beating these guys in these fights, what am I even doing here?'"
For a moment, Brown believed he had reached his peak as a mixed martial artist. His manager, however, kept him grounded and boosted his confidence, eventually convincing him to push through the hard times.
His manager is a wise dude.
"Sometimes you have to go too far, to see how far you can go....."— Matt Brown (@IamTheImmortal) July 20, 2014
After his loss to Seth Baczynski in November, Brown began his current winning streak in February of 2012 at UFC 143, defeating Chris Cope via TKO in Round 2. His career was back on track, and the next stop was nowhere in sight.
"I came into the UFC and thought, obviously the first goal is to get there, the next goal is to be the champion. So, I won a few fights, then I lost a few, and I thought, 'Oh, I guess that's where I'm going to be.' I guess my skills or whatever just aren't there to be a top-10 guy," Brown said. "I wasn't going to stop fighting; I was going to pursue, maybe, other careers, but like I said, I never let my spirits get down. I never stopped working hard. I never stopped believing that good things could happen."
Belief turned into reality, and now Brown finds himself locked into the biggest fight of his life against Lawler at UFC on Fox 12. Fortunately, The Immortal has felt the pressure of a UFC main event before at UFC Fight Night: Brown vs. Silva. With this experience behind him, Brown feels more prepared for the chaos that will surround his UFC on Fox 12 scrap.
"Fighting as the main event is definitely a different experience," Brown said. "I fought in the main event on lower fight cards, but when you get up there in the UFC main event, it's a completely different scenario, you know? The entire week is kind of based around you, so it was definitely a good learning experience for sure."
In addition to the experience of dealing with the onslaught of media and fans ahead of his main event at UFC Fight Night: Brown vs. Silva, The Immortal was also forced to dig deep in the fight itself.
In Round 1, his opponent, Erick Silva, found success with a vicious body shot that sent Brown to the canvas, and he followed it with a rear-naked choke attempt. Nine submission defeats in 11 overall losses.
It didn't look good for Brown.
"The first thing I was telling myself, I was just trying to figure out what I had to do to keep the referee from stopping it, letting him know I could continue. Once I realized that I'd gotten past the referee stopping it immediately, I moved my mind onto the next move," Brown said. "And then, when I was finally in a comfortable position in terms of knowing he wasn't going to choke me, I was basically thinking of what I was going to do once I got out of the position.
"I was basically thinking, 'As soon as you let me out of here, I'm going to f-----g kill you.' In my mind, I was just thinking, 'You better get this choke.' I knew he wasn't going to get it, but I was thinking he better get it or else I'm going to come really hard after this."
That's precisely what Brown did after escaping the choke. Moments after popping to his feet, Brown cracked Silva with a series of hard shots which altered the fight for good. He sucked the will out of his opponent, and the finish—which eventually came via third-round TKO—was just a formality.
The impressive comeback catapulted Brown's stock to its current position, and now the Ohio-born fighter turns his attention to Lawler and to UFC gold.
One more win, and the opportunity is his.