Hump Day can't get here soon enough for Mike Thomas Brown. Neither can the potential benefits of uprooting WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber on Wednesday.
"This fight can change my life," Brown said. "If I win, it will put me in a whole different situation. I'll [have beaten] the best guy at my weight, also one of the best pound-for-pound fighters. My future paydays will be adjusted greatly with a win like this, and I want this really bad."
Scheduled for five rounds at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla., (Versus, 8 p.m. ET), Brown (19-4), who trains nearby with American Top Team, says he's ready to be more than another "also-ran." To avoid having his name added to a growing list of Faber's fallen challengers, Brown, 33, must be his best against one of the sport's most consistent champions.
One problem: he's never done it when it counts
"Some guys will go out and fight a world-class guy, things will go their way and they'll beat him in a minute," Brown said. "I'll never beat a world-class guy in a minute. When I'm in those fights it's always a long drag-out war."
Though Faber (21-1) is coming off an impressive 25-minute performance against Jens Pulver in June, Brown -- a self-described gym fighter who's seen "bad luck" and "nerves" get in the way before -- spoke confidently of his chances against Faber, the winner of 13 in a row, including five WEC title defenses.
Generally, Brown's success has come by way of physical control. In this sense, the mid-week title fight pits a challenger who's very similar to the champion. Both featherweights are powerful wrestlers who, after thousands of hours in the gym, are very comfortable and capable in other aspects of the game. Having lost four fights -- none since 2005 -- by submission, Brown accepted the necessity for improvement. So he left Maine for Miami, where only Brazilian swimsuit models rival an expanding population of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belts.
Today, Brown counts submissions as strengths.
"I can submit anybody in the world," boasted Brown. "It's just a matter of setting it up and getting to those positions where I can capitalize on that stuff. So I know, given the opportunity, I can tap him."
Brown has focused on "The California Kid" for the past six months. The pair was originally set to fight Sept. 10, but promoters postponed the event when Hurricane Ike threatened southern Florida. Having just wrapped up a training camp with MMA notables, including Marcelo Garcia, JZ Calvancante, RafaelDias and Marcus Aurelio, Brown said the final week was his best of the entire session.
"I'm definitely ready," said the challenger. "I think everything is perfect. The stage is set for me. [Faber] has one of the cleanest records of all the champs. He's good, he's tough, but he makes mistakes and he can be beat. I'm a world-class guy, and if I go in and perform like I can, I'll beat him."
A win for Brown would signify a sizeable upset, but Faber appears to be maturing -- both physically and professionally. His last time out, Faber traded for five rounds with one of the hardest hitting lightweights in the sport in Pulver. Faber showed tremendous improvement on the outside, using a stiff jab to follow up with power shots to the head and body. This is where Brown expects the fight to play out.
"I think he's going to have newfound confidence in his standup," Brown said. "I don't think he had it before as much as he's going to now. I think he was trying to get Pulver down hard the first few minutes of that fight and he realized it wasn't going to be that easy. I'm sure he's going to be excited to trade and go to war on the feet."
"I train really well against wrestlers and I train really well against short guys," Brown continued. "So I do I like this style matchup as far as that goes. I like his body type. What I don't like is a really long, tall lanky guy. I tend to have a little trouble with the long reach. But I think I'm the same height if not a little bit taller than Urijah, so I don't anticipate that being a problem."
Wanting to separate himself from "the other Mike Browns" -- which he first tried to do by emphasizing his middle name -- the featherweight challenger finds his opportunity Wednesday. Assuming all goes according to plan, that is.
"I know I haven't shown what I can do in the ring," Brown said. "I can be very dominant against very high-level guys in all areas. I just have to have a good night. If I'm on, then I can beat anybody and I can impose my game on him, no matter what he does."