Nearly three million people will watch on television tonight. About 20,000 more will pack the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif.
The number Jamestown native Matt Brown is focused on? One.
That’s the status he’ll earn as the No. 1 contender with a hard-fought victory tonight. And there’s only one person standing in his way.
Brown — nicknamed “The Immortal” — bangs with “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler as the headliner at UFC on Fox 12 (preliminary fights start at 6 p.m., main event at 8). Fans and media have touted the bout between two of the division’s most brutal body crushers as the Fight of the Year since it was announced in May.
The winner earns No. 1 contender status and a shot at Johny Hendricks’ welterweight championship.
“He’s a really explosive, really hard-hitting guy. He’s good everywhere,” Brown said of Lawler. “He can knock you out with one punch. Or at least at a minimum hurt you real bad with one punch. That’s about all it comes down to with him.”
That could also serve as the scouting report on Brown (19-11), who has won his last seven fights. His last win was a devastating message to the division: a third-round TKO against Erick Silva on May 10 in Cincinnati.
Lawler (23-10) TKO’d Jake Ellenberger in three rounds on May 24.
The title shot would be Brown’s first. Lawler lost to Hendricks in an unanimous decision March 15. Lawler (5-11, 170 pounds; 32 years old) is the No. 1-ranked contender and Brown (6-0, 170; 33) is No. 5.
With a title shot one punch away, Brown isn’t taking it for granted.
“It’s such a long, grinding process to get where I’m at. I’m always so focused on the moment,” Brown said. “The whole mentality is to be looking to climb up to higher things rather than feel like you’ve already gotten to the top. … It all leads to the next one and the next one is always the biggest one.”
Brown has typically gone about four months between fights. But the two-month turnaround is fine with the 1999 Greeneview High School graduate.
“This is definitely a lot faster than what’s normal. I like it, myself. I don’t like to take more than a week or two off from an event,” he said. “This is my job and it’s also my passion. If I’m sitting on the sidelines I don’t know what to do with myself.”