GREENE COUNTY — When Jamestown native Matt “The Immortal” Brown was announced as a co-headliner for the Ultimate Fighting Championship Fight Night 120 on Saturday night Nov. 11 in Norfolk, Va., it was originally billed as Brown’s retirement bout.
Now Brown says he’s not so sure about all that.
“I’m not really thinking about it as my final fight right now. I like to look at my fights as if I’ve never fought before, and as if I’ll never fight again after. So every fight is my final fight,” Brown said, in a phone call from Las Vegas where he was doing promotional work for UFC Fight Night 120.
“Originally, I had said I was going to retire, but then I felt great. I’m in a good place right now. So we’re going to go in there, we’re going to enjoy it, and we’ll talk next week about what’s going to happen after the fight. Until then, I’m feeling great and I’m going to go enjoy this.”
Brown, who has a 13-10 record in UFC bouts and is 20-16 in all his mixed martial arts contests, will take on Albuquerque, N.M. veteran Diego Sanchez (16-10 UFC, 27-10 MMA) in a co-headlining welterweight bout. According to mmajunkie.com, Brown will tie Josh Koscheck for most UFC appearances in the welterweight class with Saturday’s fight with 24.
Sanchez is 3-3 in his last six fights, and last fought on April 22 in a knockout loss to Al Laquinta in Nashville, Tenn.
Brown’s last fight was on Dec. 10, 2016, a third-round knockout loss in Toronto to Donald Cerrone.
“I know a lot about Diego, everybody does. He’s been around a long time. He was in the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter” television series, and he’s been fighting ever since. We all know what Diego does, and we all know what he is capable of. I think I match up with him well. So we’re gonna go in there and put it on him.
“That’s about all there is to it. I’m gonna go in there and do it.”
Brown, now 36, ascended through the UFC rankings during a 2012-2014 run where he won seven straight fights, but he is now 1-5 since that time. His 11 stoppage wins as a welterweight has him tied with Matt Hughes for the most in welterweight history. The 13 career wins in the class are the fifth most, and he tops the UFC welterweight lists with nine knockouts.
But despite his ascension in the UFC rankings, Brown has never forgotten his roots in the Xenia-Greene County area.
“I think back on my times back home every day,” Brown said. “I keep in mind my roots, and where I came from. Where I came from was a town of blue-collar, hard work-ethic, down-to-earth people, and that’s the Jamestown-Xenia area.
“I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I want to remember where I came from and to help inspire those who come from smaller towns like the Xenias and the Jamestowns all over the country. I want to be the guy that they can look up to and say ‘Well, he did it. I can do it.’ I hope I can bring some inspiration and motivation to those people.
“I hope people can look at me and realize I was one of them; and I’m still one of them. I’ll always be one of them. And if they want to do great things in life, they can do it too.”
Brown said he hoped to return to visit family and friends during the Christmas holiday, and said he looks forward to his visits home.
He said two fights in particular stand out for him in his long list of UFC bouts: the third-round TKO of Brazilian Erick Silva in front of thousands of local friends and family May 10, 2004 in Cincinnati; and his loss by unanimous decision to Robbie Lawler, July 26, 2014 in San Jose, Calif.
“One would be against Robbie Lawler, I was close to fighting for the championship and had a great fight. I felt like I won, but it was close and they gave it to him. That would’ve got me a title fight,” Brown said. “And of course, Erick Silva in Cincinnati. Being close to my hometown. My whole family was there, and my kids got to come into the Octagon after the fight and enjoy the victory with me. That was special for me. It’s hard to deny how special that was for my kids and wife to be able to come into the Octagon with me after that fight. I’ll never forget that.”
The other headline bout on Saturday night at Norfolk’s Ted Constant Convocation Center will pit lightweights Dustin Poirier (13-4 UFC, 21-5 MMA) against former UFC champ Anthony Pettis (7-5 UFC, 20-6 MMA).
Thirteen fights are scheduled for UFC Fight Night 120. The main events will be shown on FoxSports1 (FS1) starting at 8 p.m. Eastern, with the early preliminary fights scheduled to be broadcast on UFC Fight Pass at 6:30 p.m. Eastern.
Contact John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.