Matt “The Immortal” Brown (20-14 MMA, 13-8 UFC) will meet Jake “The Juggernaut” Ellenberger (30-11 MMA, 9-7 UFC) in a welterweight showdown at UFC 201 on July 30.
Brown has hit a bit of a rough patch lately, losing three of his past four bouts. Still, look at the fighters he lost to in that span: he dropped unanimous decisions to current welterweight champion Robbie Lawler and former welterweight champ Johny Hendricks, and was submitted in the third round by Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Demian Maia. Mixed in there is a submission win over Tim Means, who is knocking on the door of the top-15 of a stacked welterweight division.
Prior to his recent issues, Brown was on a seven-fight winning streak that included stoppages of Erick Silva, Mike Pyle, Jordan Mein and Mike Swick. He even holds a unanimous decision over No. 1-ranked welterweight Stephen Thompson.
As for Ellenberger, one may wonder how he holds a 9-7 UFC record after beginning his career with the organization at 6-1 (six-fight winning streak after losing his debut to current No. 5-ranked welterweight Carlos Condit via split decision). His streak included victories over Pyle, Diego Sanchez, Jake Shields and John Howard. Well, he’s 1-5 in his last six bouts. He’s lost to some good fighters in that span (Lawler, Thompson, Rory MacDonald, Kelvin Gastelum and Tarec Saffiedine), but was finished in three of those. His lone win during that frame was a submission over Josh Koscheck, who is far down the slope of his own career.
Honestly, this is Brown’s fight to lose. He lands a lot (3.61 significant strikes per minute), finishes fights (59 percent of his victories have come by T/KO and 32 percent via submission for a 91 percent total finishing rate), has a four-inch reach advantage and doesn’t get hit much (only absorbs 2.37 significant strikes per minute).
Ellenberger gets hit more than he lands (deals 2.3 significant strikes per minute and takes 2.44), which is not good considering his chin appears to be fading. Ellenberger converts about 51 percent of his takedown attempts, but Brown has stopped nearly 62 percent of his opponents’ tries, and those include fights against some great grapplers.
Ellenberger still has a puncher’s chance, of course. He has finished 67 percent of his wins by knockout. However, Brown has never been knocked out before. Could it happen here? Yes. Is it likely? No. Brown survived five rounds with Lawler, who is known for his devastating power. He also holds wins over knockout threats like the aforementioned Pyle, Silva and Thompson.
Brown has crushing power, and Ellenberger is not what he once was, unfortunately. The safe pick is on Brown to win via knockout in one of the first two rounds.