LAS VEGAS – Mike Brown would have been perfect for one of those old credit card commercials that used to ask, "Do you know me?" Because despite being ranked sixth in the Yahoo! Sports pound-for-pound ratings, despite holding the World Extreme Cagefighting featherweight title, despite two victories over the high-profile Urijah Faber and despite a 22-4 record that includes 10 wins in a row, Brown is still struggling for mainstream recognition as a mixed martial artist.
He clearly didn't major in self-promotion while he was at Norwich University in Northfield, Vt.
Brown is one of the finalists, along with Ultimate Fighting Championship champions Brock Lesnar, Lyoto Machida, Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre, for the Fighter's Only Magazine's Fighter of the Year. It's heavy competition, given that Lesnar and St. Pierre are arguably the sport's two biggest draws and Silva and Machida are among the three or four best fighters in the world.
Brown would seem to need all the help he could get to win it, despite a brilliant year that would be made even better on Wednesday with a successful title defense over up-and-coming star Jose Aldo in the main event of a Versus-televised card at the Palms Resort.
Brown, though, is doing little to advance his cause. Asked about his nomination on a conference call with reporters, the Maine native was typically low key.
"I don't know, man," Brown said. "It's tough, man. It's – those guys are pretty amazing. … If I were voting I wouldn't vote for myself."
After winning the title by knocking out Faber a year ago, he's defended it successfully twice in 2009. He submitted Leonard Garcia and then scored a unanimous decision over Faber in a bout that has to be among the leading candidates for Fight of the Year.
In Aldo, he'll face one of the hottest guys in the sport, a fast-rising 23-year-old with a 15-1 record and five consecutive knockouts.
Brown raved about Aldo as the complete package, saying he combines elements of his previous two opponents.
"I mean, he's that caliber," Brown said, comparing Aldo to Faber and Garcia. "I think there are many great fighters that I've fought, so he has his own difficulties in the fight. He presents his own problems. He's a great striker; he's really fast, great knees, probably the best knees or striking of those guys. Maybe Leonard might hit a little harder, but he's not quite as technical. Urijah's probably a better wrestler, but not as a good striker. [Jose] might have the best jiu-jitsu of those guys, but we haven't seen it.
"You know Jeff Curran also has good jiu-jitsu. So I mean they all have their good strengths but everybody has weaknesses and it's my job to try to find a hole in their game."
If Brown beat Aldo, though, someone is going to have to search long and hard to find a serious weakness in his game.
And with that, I'll ask you to follow me on Twitter as we delve into the mailbag and respond to your questions and comments.
UFC to Indianapolis?
I have two questions: First, do you think the UFC will ever make it to Indianapolis? I read awhile back that the boxing commission in Indiana has expanded its reign to include MMA. This would allow the UFC to compete here, but will they? It would be pretty sweet to put Todd Duffee and Chris Lytle on the card. Secondly, what is up with this season of "The Ultimate Fighter?" Except for the Marcus Jones fight, it seems like the winner is the person that is in better shape (which is still pathetic). I have never seen so many fighters get gassed out, and in only two rounds. What's your insight?
I do believe the UFC will host a show eventually in Indianapolis because they really want a strong presence in the Midwest, where the sport is so popular. As for TUF 10, I agree the fights have been pathetic, for the most part. It's hard to say why these guys have had such poor conditioning; Scott Junk, for instance, has fought in the UFC before and he knows what it takes. How he was so poorly conditioned in his fight with Matt Mitrione is a mystery. I've gotten a kick out of the personalities on the series, but this has been the worst season of fighting in a long, long time. It's been worse than awful.
I can't understand all the criticism that Fedor gets. He just goes out and wins [against] the best the organization has. He doesn't moan and complain. Sure I'd like to see him fight the tougher UFC crowd, but that didn't work out. I doubt because he's ducking anyone. He was in PRIDE when the UFC was considered the weaker league, so he doesn't avoid competition.
Sean, Fedor is an outstanding fighter and one of the elite in the world in any weight class. I don't believe Fedor is ducking anyone. He's a fighter and will fight whoever is in front of him. I think his promoter (M-1 Global) wants to control his opponents and they're cautious in who they choose. I'm a big admirer of his, though I wish I could get an interview with him where he opens up and speaks honestly. I'm not sure the interpreter he was using is translating his comments accurately.
Fedor is the best
I cannot believe you don't rank Fedor No. 1 in the pound-for-pound ratings. His record is unbelievable! I can't believe you guys won't give him number once since he didn't sign up for UFC, which is obviously the case. The guy is a machine! The last fight just demonstrated that, even if you mange to hit him, it's still over! Put Fedor as No. 1, seriously. I would love to see Fedor absolutely destroy Brock. It would bring tears of joy to my eyes.
Your theory about why we don't have Fedor ranked No. 1 in our poll is a good one, except for one little thing: It's completely and utterly untrue. You make a statement with no basis of fact. We have reporters from MMA Junkie, MMA Weekly, AOL Fanhouse, Sports Illustrated, the Canadian Press and others voting in our poll. They have the ability to vote for anyone they want. One of the Yahoo! voters on the poll is blogger Steve Cofield, who has voted Fedor No. 1 every month in which he has participated. If you want to see who voted in the most recent poll, click here. Our voters are free to choose whomever they wish and in whatever order they wish. The votes are counted and the poll is administered by our MMA producer, Dave Doyle. The results are the way the votes come out.
When will Overeem defend?
I believe Cung Le did the right thing by vacating his Strikeforce middleweight title due to his inability to properly defend it. Shouldn't Strikeforce require Alistair Overeem to do the same? Having a champion that doesn't defend his title but still fights in other countries can't be good for business.
It's a bizarre situation, John. Overeem won the Strikeforce heavyweight title on Nov. 16, 2007, but hasn't fought for the promotion since. He should be given an ultimatum or stripped of the belt. But Strikeforce doesn't have a deep heavyweight roster and that may be one of the reasons it hasn't stripped Overeem.