Matt Brown most recently secured a performance of the night bonus in his highlight reel KO of Dhiego Lima, the brother of Douglas Lima who Brown also beat fourteen years ago. While he is in the latter years of his fight career, Brown has been able to bring the brutal style he is known for every step of the way and will look to make it two straight victories by finishing Bryan Barberena.
Barberena, known for his ability to stand, trade, and punish, first broke into the front of everyone’s mind when he became the first man to finish Sage Northcutt in the UFC. That was half a decade ago, and since then he has raised his stock by picking off names like Warlley Alves and Jake Ellenberger along the way. He has accumulated even more notoriety with his wars against top-ranked Vincente Luque and Jason Witt, which attributes to his role as the fighter every fan wants to watch win or lose.
Currently, oddsmakers have the fight at a dead even 50/50 split with both men coming in at -110 odds.
- Brown: -110
- Barberena: -110
Matt Brown has been around the UFC for a long time, and so fans have gotten a sense of what he is known for but also how he has developed those things over time. Early on he became famous for his pace and ferocious striking, being able to take punishment early and rally back. However nowadays, at this point in his career, after 41 fights, a combination of age plus wear and tear has forced him to change some things. He still utilizes a basic Muay Thai approach, likes to push forward, favors the lead hand, and likes to leg kick and elbow his way to victory.
Years ago, it was his pace that won him fights, but in his last few we have seen him begin to slow at points he hadn’t before, and in his most recent fight against Dhiego Lima, he made the adjustment to slow down his pace and pick his shots more methodically. Typically Brown throws constantly at about 60% power, digging in single power shots at the end of his combinations. He still does this but lowers the half-power combinations and puts more emphasis on making his individual power strikes count.
Often he will slip inside his opponent’s jab if they are orthodox and land the whipping leg kick off of it. He uses the lead hand to parry and control his opponent’s lead and looks for either the rear straight or rear step-in elbow, as he is particularly good at putting an immense amount of torque behind the right arm.
On the mat, Brown is most dangerous due to his elbows translating to ground and pound. If he ends up in top position, he doesn’t have much motivation to pass the guard completely because he can comfortably and viciously land his elbows from inside full or half guard. On the bottom, he has more difficulty and looks to create scrambles so that he can look for a single leg back to the feet or other power sweeps but offensively he throws very little and hunts few submissions.
His greatest weakness over his career as a whole is that he is known as a slow starter, often fighters in the past have caught him cold early. This was in part because Brown’s intensity often drives him to reach the center of the octagon right away and engage first but physically he has difficulty going from 0-100 that quickly. In his last couple bouts, he has taken a more measured approach to avoid this period of possible weakness but it may still be present.
Bryan Barberena is one of the few who can say they are as gritty as Brown. He likes to push forward but would prefer to stand at boxing distance with his opponents if they are willing, because not only is comfortable in the fire but his best attribute is his varied angle striking with his hands. He has great leg kicks and can fight anywhere but what makes Barberena dangerous, is if he has an opponent hurt, he will step into boxing range and blast punches, hammer fists, and all sorts of techniques from every angle at the same range making the flurry almost impossible to block fully.
Like brown, Barberena has a relatively basic grappling style, he can scramble and defend takedowns well but he is most dangerous due to his striking prowess translating to ground and pound and he has a decent but text-book bottom game. Most impressively off his back is his ability to bump and hip escape out of positions in order to at least make it taxing and uncomfortable for anyone trying to build any sort of base on top.
While both men will want to strike, I think that Brown will be most likely to shoot and mix it up, Baberena needs to utilize his footwork and be first. When Barberena presses forward he has made it more difficult for wrestlers in the past to find their timing on the takedown, plus Barberena’s ability to crack with the step-through straights is dangerous enough to keep anyone’s attention up high.
Both men represent the doggedness of combat sports but Brown will have to put that in the back pocket for at least the first minute or so of the fight. Barberena should look to capitalize on Brown’s reputation as a cold starter and establish his ability to push Brown into the pocket and trade. For Brown, he has the advantage in kicking with his Thai style arsenal, and the advantage in the clinch with his wicked elbows and knees, but he can’t get too overzealous because as the younger and fresher man, Baberena wants nothing more than to win out in activity and test each other’s chin.
I think that Brown has all the skills to win if he comes in with the proper game plan.
Prediction: Matt Brown via decision