Bloodied and bruised, Jamestown native Matt Brown threw everything he had — including punches with possibly a broken right hand — at Robbie Lawler in a UFC welterweight fight on Saturday night.
Brown also withstood some punishing blows from Lawler, including a front body kick that rocked him in the third round. After the five-round battle was over about the only thing not hurting for Brown was his standing in the UFC.
Brown, who lost by unanimous decision at the UFC on Fox event in San Jose, Calif., likely moved up in the UFC welterweight rankings. Brown entered as the No. 5 contender. Lawler was No. 1.
“What a fight,” UFC president Dana White told Fox. “I don’t know how he didn’t prove he’s the number two guy in the world right now with that performance. It’s unbelievable. … The fifth round was insane. I honestly didn’t think one or the other would be able to take the shots and they did.”
White predicted the fight would not go the distance given both fighters striking ability. It did, capped with a frenzied fifth round where Brown (21-12) knew his best shot to beat Lawler (24-10) was deliver a knockout. Two judges scored the fight 49-47 and a third 48-47.
The loss snapped Brown’s seven-match winning streak. The winner was guaranteed a shot at welterweight champion Johny Hendricks’ title.
“I said there’s two champions in this ring tonight. He’s a hell of a fighter,” Lawler told Fox in a post-match interview. “We put on a great show (for the fans). He went toe-to-toe with me and not too many people will do that.”
Fox reported Brown — who had multiple cuts on his face and possibly that broken right hand — was transported to a local hospital for observation.
“He’s one of those guys that hits hard, has a great chin, can take unbelievable punishment and pain and just keeps coming forward,” White said. “He’s stalking Robbie Lawler and walking him down. I don’t know if anyone saw that coming.”
Brown landed 89 strikes to Lawler’s 87. Lawler’s big-match experience might have made the different. For Lawler, who lost a narrow unanimous decision to Hendricks in May, it was his 10th bout scheduled for five-rounds. For Brown it was his second.
Both fighters were awarded a $50,000 bonus for the Fight of the Night.
“You could see in that fifth round he came out to fight and came out to win. He came out to beat me up,” Lawler said. “Maybe (he broke his hand) but he was hitting me with it. He was swinging for the fences. … He’s cut up a little bit but I’m sure he’s gonna bounce back. He’s like Wolverine.”