Fantasy Fights

Intelligent, unique MMA analysis

UFC 133 Preview: Mike Brown vs. Nam Phan

It seems like a long time ago now that Mike Brown was the WEC featherweight champion. He beat Urijah Faber by TKO in the first round, and then showed it wasn’t a fluke by beating Faber again in a five-round war. After losing to Jose Aldo by TKO (which is far from something to be ashamed of), Brown bounced back with a first-round submission win against Anthony Morrison. While Brown may not have been a champion any longer, it seemed that he was still one of the very best featherweights in the world, and at least a man potential contenders would have to go through.

One problem: after beating Morrison, Brown hit the dreaded nine year mark of his career. Just ten days afterwards, Brown lost by KO to Manny Gamburyan of all people. After beating Cole Province in his last fight before the WEC was merged with the UFC, Brown lost two fights in one month, first to Diego Nunes, then to Rani Yahya. All of a sudden, Brown is a fighter searching for a direction, looking to get back on track, not to become a contender, but to keep his UFC career alive.

His opponent will be The Ultimate Fighter season 12 semi-finalist Nam Phan. The thing about Phan on that show is that he wasn’t a prospect, unlike the majority of TUF competitors. In fact, Phan has now been competing for nine years himself, as his controversial split-decision loss to Leonard Garcia was his first fight after hitting the nine-year mark. On one hand, Phan really should have been awarded a victory in that fight. On the other hand, he fought Leonard Garcia and didn’t beat him badly; UFC fighters really should beat Garcia at this point.

So while some may see this as a battle between two quality featherweights, I see it as a fight between two men at a career crossroads. The winner will probably receive a fight against one of the established UFC featherweights, the other will be in danger of falling out of relevance.

Here’s the question about Phan: who has he beaten? Even if you give him the win against Garcia, it’s not a particularly impressive list. In fact, here’s the top five wins Phan has earned, according to Victory Score:

  1. Eben Kaneshiro, 63.89
  2. Saad Awad, 60.63
  3. Patrick Hoang, 59.40
  4. Hideki Kadowaki, 58.47
  5. Ryan Diaz, 55.04

As it turns out, every time Phan has been tested against higher-level competition, he’s fallen short, losing to Rob McCullough, Josh Thomson, Gesias Cavalcante, Billy Evangelista, Michihiro Omigawa, and Isaac DeJesus. The reason Phan is a known name is that he’s been in fights with high-level opponents. He just hasn’t beaten any of them.

That can’t be said about Brown, who has scored victories against Faber as well as respected fighters like Cole Province, Yves Edwards, and Jeff Curran. I’ll fully admit that Brown doesn’t have the world’s deepest resume as far as victories are concerned, but it’s at least a better list than Phan can boast.

SILVA PREDICTION: MIKE BROWN (35.09) OVER NAM PHAN (18.53)

That’s a huge difference in SILVA, and while I don’t think Brown will necessarily dominate the way SILVA would expect, it’s difficult for me to envision Phan being able to stop Brown’s game. Phan has characterized his fighting as like a Honda Civic: that is to say, energy efficient. The problem is that Mike Brown isn’t going to stand and bang with Phan, he’s going to drive for takedowns. In this fight, Brown is likely to land those takedowns, and as good as Phan’s endurance may be, he doesn’t have Rani Yahya’s ground game.

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