Not much is different in Matt Brown's fight game despite what the numbers in the record books might say.
Brown, who faces Erick Silva on Saturday in a five-round welterweight main event of a UFC card in Cincinnati, appeared on the verge of losing his job after he was submitted by Seth Baczynski at UFC 139 on Nov. 19, 2011.
It was Brown's fourth loss in his previous five fights and dropped his overall record to 14-11.
But then, Brown's fortunes began to change. He may have saved his job by knocking out Chris Cope at UFC 143, which was the start of a six-fight winning streak that moved him from the brink of unemployment to the brink of a title shot.
Brown, though, can't explain the difference.
"I'm the same guy," he says. "I always believed in myself and I'm doing what I believed I always could do."
After he blew out the very tough Mike Pyle in Boston in August, Brown seemed to be closing in on a shot at the title. He was pitted against Carlos Condit in a fight that might have gotten him a shot at the belt had he prevailed.
The fight, though, never took place. Brown herniated two disks in his back while wrestling and he had to pull out of the fight.
It came at the worst possible time for him, because it robbed him of a match against one of the UFC's biggest names, but it also broke his momentum.
And in his typically blunt manner, Brown didn't blame anyone but himself. He'd been training too long and too hard and pushed himself beyond where he should have.
"The short answer is that I overtrained," Brown said. "I wasn't taking the proper steps to prevent injury. I'd been training hard all week and it was too much. It was just one of those things, you know?"
Anyone who has ever had back pain from a herniated disk understands full well how difficult it is to get up and walk around, let alone go through what a professional fighter must go through in order to compete.
Careers have ended over much less, though Brown said he wasn't concerned.
"I wouldn't say it crossed my mind that it would impact my career or that my career would be over," Brown said. "I didn't even realize I was hurt at first. But the next day, I couldn't walk."
That forced the cancellation of the fight with Condit. Condit went on to lose to Tyron Woodley, and Woodley is now scheduled to face Rory MacDonald in a No. 1 contender's match in which the winner will get the next shot at the belt.
That could have been Brown's position, too, but he's not the type to worry about things he can't control.
He was married in August 2012, but his fight career got in the way of a honeymoon. When he was injured and out of the fight with Condit, he took advantage of the situation by taking his wife, Colleen, on their honeymoon.
"So at least some good came of it," Brown said of his injury.
But now that he's back, he's appeared to drop in status at least a bit. Instead of facing a top-ranked contender like Condit, he's now set to fight Silva, a highly talented welterweight who hasn't fought to his full potential.
Silva is just 3-3 in his last six outings, alternating between wins and losses, and while he's shown promise, he's also been highly disappointing at times.
But he's won four fight night bonuses in his last five fights and is coming off an impressive stoppage of Takenori Sato.
Brown, who is seventh in the current welterweight rankings, wished he'd been pitted against a higher-ranked opponent because a win would have made it easier to get a big fight next time out. Silva is ranked 14th.
Brown is a veteran who has come to learn that two things are expected in the UFC: Put on a good show and win a lot of fights.
He's always been one of the promotion's most exciting fighters, but the difference is that he's coming out on top of those battles now.
"I just pretty much get myself into the best possible shape I can and I fight as hard as I can and as smart as I can, and I figure everything else will take care of itself," Brown said. "If I keep winning, my name has to be called [for a major bout] eventually. So I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing and keep putting on a good show."
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