Champions, legends, and rising stars are the usual suspects when making a list of candidates for the cover of the magazine. After all, names like Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre represent the pinnacle of the sport. They provide the fans an image of superhuman invincibility that every kid, at some point in their lives, has imagined themselves to be. But there are other fighters as well—lesser known names grinding out the battles under the same bright lights but with fewer eyes in the crowd to watch. Sometimes those fighters have a story to tell that we find compelling enough to pass on. This month, that fighter is UFC welterweight Matt Brown.
That Matt Brown is even in the UFC to begin with is practically a miracle, so it’s easy to overlook the fact that he’s already 12 fights deep since his time on The Ultimate Fighter. Brown will be the first to admit that it’s unlikely he’ll be headlining a pay-per-view any time soon, but, for many of us, he is a guy who always adds that one extra fight to the card that we want to see. At first glance, there are few external indicators that would point to Brown being an individual who could compete in the most elite arena MMA has to offer, yet he is there, not only competing with, but often besting some of the toughest fighters on the planet. He’s a blue collar roughneck from a small town in Ohio with a checkered past and an unassuming appearance, and it’s precisely these qualities—not his legendary status—that allows us to see a bit of ourselves in the cage when he fights. On page 50, join us as we take a journey into Matt Brown’s darker days, his unlikely arrival in the present moment, and his very moral outlook on an ever brightening future.