"This is a very interesting fight, but all fights are interesting." - Matt Brown
When you see Matt Brown sitting backstage with his headphones on before his UFC Fight Night main event against Brazilian Erick Silva on Saturday, don't assume that he’s pumping himself up with hip hop or heavy metal like so many fighters do.
In fact, Brown is likely not even thinking about his fight.
For "The Immortal," the tunes that flow into his head are designed to transport him to a different environment altogether. You could say Brown is searching for a momentary lapse of reason to prepare him for a competition that most mere mortals would find too unreasonable to pursue.
"I listen to Pink Floyd," said Brown. "I like music that takes me out of my head and puts me into an altered state. A different environment. A song like 'Wish You Were Here' speaks to me in a way that, I don't know, it's hard to explain."
While Brown may be at a loss for words when it comes to how Floyd makes him feel, the manner in which he has achieved his moment in the MMA spotlight doesn't need any explanation at all.
He did it the old fashioned way - with his fists - stringing together a six-fight win streak in the process.
"What I love about this sport is that it is the ultimate form of truth," he said. "I'm not afraid to lose, and I think my fight style proves that. I don't mind staying in the pocket and trading with my opponent, no matter who I happen to be fighting. I'm in the zone when I do that."
What UFC fans and fellow welterweights have learned in no uncertain terms, is that a Matt Brown in the zone is a very dangerous man to be locked inside of an eight-sided cage with.
Or ask Jordan Mien. Brown was ruthless in his pursuit of the exhausted young gun and needed just one minute into round two to secure the TKO victory with Muay Thai knees to the head and body followed by elbows before referee John McCarthy had seen enough.
It was much the same for his previous two opponents, Mike Swick and Luis Ramos. But perhaps the most important victory for Brown in this latest run was against kickboxing prodigy Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson in April 2012.
"I knew he had never fought anyone like me in the UFC before, and I knew there was no way I was going to lose that fight. I couldn't wait to go out there and show how he didn't belong in the Octagon with someone like me," said Brown.
At the time, many MMA observers like me were looking to "Wonderboy" as someone who could eventually challenge for the welterweight title.
Matt Brown never believed the hype.
"I understand why Dana (White) and Joe (Silva) do what they do," says Brown. "Thompson was young and he was getting a lot of attention. I wasn't mad that they put me in with him but at the same time I knew he wouldn't pass their test." > Watch: Matt Brown vs. Mike Swick
So what is it that has turned what could have been a respectable UFC journeyman’s career into someone who could win his seventh straight and earn a possible title berth?
"I have inherent power in my hands," he said. "But I am also a strong wrestler, and wrestling has helped my striking because it forced me to lower my center of gravity, and when you do that you generate more power in your punches. But I am getting to the point where I can see things in slow motion while I'm in there. You want to get to a place where, like in a baseball movie where a pitcher throws a fast ball and it comes at the hitter in slow motion and he hits it out of the park. That's where I want to be when I'm sitting in the pocket. I have clarity and I'm present in the movie. I see everything."
Brown says he wasn't always ready for this moment. And while the six-foot tall 33-year-old from Columbus, Ohio doesn't necessarily think that this fight is the most important of his career, he does understand that it could be judged as such depending on the outcome.
"Every fight is the most important fight," he says. "You have to win every fight, but again, I'm not afraid to lose. It's not like I want to lose, make no mistake, I'm going in to win every time I perform. But yeah, this fight's extremely important."
He now faces another tough opponent in Silva, who possesses if not the same, then damn near close to the same kind of inherent punching power Brown has become known for.
"This is a very interesting fight, but all fights are interesting," he said. "Every time you're fighting it's interesting. You're out there against another athlete, and you have to put the time in. I'm not thinking about anything but Erick Silva right now."
"I had a tear in my eye," he said. "Let's just leave it at that."