Mike Thomas Brown has had quite the past year-plus ride in the sport of MMA.
For almost three years, Brown never lost. Along the way, he claimed the World Extreme Cagefighting featherweight championship and defeated Urijah Faber twice.
But, in late 2009, Brown ran into the up-and-coming star we now know as Jose Aldo. Aldo earned a TKO victory in the second round of their title contest, and Brown (24-8) has yet to fully recover.
Since the Aldo defeat, Brown has went 2-3, including back-to-back losses in the UFC to Diego Nunes and Rani Yahya.
This coming Saturday, Brown gets another chance to recover, as he meets Nam Phan at UFC 133: Evans vs. Ortiz II from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Brown has heard it plenty of times in the lead-up to this fight that he is in a do-or-die situation, as three straight losses would more than likely spell the end of his UFC contract.
But, the 35-year-old from Portland, Maine, is not letting that pressure dictate his pre-fight routine.
“I don’t even feel it. It’s like, if it happens, it happens,” said Brown, in an interview with Sherdog Radio Network. “I want to win the fight so bad regardless of that. Every fight, I think nothing else besides winning. I’m crushed every time that I lose no matter what…nothing else matters except getting in there and putting the pedal to the floor and trying to get the guy out of there as quick as you can, try to hurt him before he hurts you.
“Everything else, to me, is just small potatoes. Just background noise.”
Brown has changed up his training camp leading up to the fight against Phan, who was a semifinalist on The Ultimate Fighter. Instead of constantly sparring, he has worked more on his strength and conditioning.
With the added muscle and endurance, Brown has a good idea of what to do against Phan once the cage door closes.
“I have a good understanding of what his game is,” Brown said. “All of his fights seem similar. He doesn’t change a lot. He’s gotten better over the years at what does do, but it looks like always the same game plan. He comes forward a lot. Nice jab, right hand, left hook to the body or the head. Solid jiu-jitsui. Definitely a tough guy, a tough opponent.”
Brown showed his all-around game from the moment he arrived in the WEC, earning a decision over Jeff Curran. He followed that up with a TKO victory against Faber for the title.
Brown defended the WEC gold against Leonard Garcia and Faber again before the Aldo bout.
Right off the bat it looked like Brown was back in rare form, scoring a submission victory over Anthony Morrison less than three months after falling to Aldo. But, a knockout loss to Manvel Gamburyan ended his chance of getting right back in the title hunt.
Brown’s last victory was over Cole Province, by TKO, in September of 2010.
“It was rough,” said Brown, of his struggles since fighting Aldo. “I think it was 14 months where it all came crashing down. I was busy. In 14 months I fought six times, which is a lot at a world-class level. I lost four of them. I had one (loss) in like five years or something. I was doing well and then I hit this patch.”
Phan has won just one fight, outside of his matches inside The Ultimate Fighter house, since 2009. He was defeated by Leonard Garcia late in 2010.
UFC 133: Evans vs. Ortiz takes place this Saturday, August 6 from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Don’t forget to check back on Saturday for FightLine.com’s live coverage of the event.