Lima (15-8 MMA, 4-6 UFC) will look to get back to winning ways when he meets Brown in the main card opener at UFC on ESPN 25 on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The card airs on ESPN2 and streams on ESPN+.
Although Brown (22-18 MMA, 15-12 UFC) holds a win over Lima’s brother, former Bellator welterweight champion Douglas Lima, the matchup isn’t about revenge and Lima said he is honored to fight him.
“Matt Brown is a legend of the sport,” Lima told MMA Junkie. “He’s sure to go to the Hall of Fame. He’s a scrapper. He will fight anyone. I’m very happy to face him. And I do know him. When I was in the ‘TUF 25’ show, he was part of Team Dillashaw. We trained together a couple of times. What he does bring is sheer toughness. He’s always training. He trains really hard. He is truly a tough guy. He never makes excuses. He just wants to fight. He’s great in that way. My training camp will be hard because I know how he trains. There’s no way around it – he steps into the cage looking to put on a beating.
“I’ll be ready. It will be fireworks. He’ll bring the heat. But I’m not backing down. I’ll control the center. Matt was the first guy to beat my brother Douglas. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a local fight, here in Atlanta. Douglas got too tired. He was 17 or 18 at the time. He had a hard weight cut. Matt Brown got him tired and TKOd him. Of course, I clearly remember that, but it doesn’t play a role now. To me, he’s a legend of the sport. This is another opportunity for me to get a win over a big name, even if he’s not ranked like Belal (Muhammad). One win over Matt will catapult me toward the top. I have to win this fight.”
Lima took a lot of lessons from his loss to Muhammad, which snapped his three-fight winning streak. Muhammad was able to overwhelm Lima with pressure and the “Ultimate Fighter” finalist vows to not let that happen again.
“My goal is never to back up,” Lima said. “When I fight going forward, I’m a completely different fighter. I can do much more. In my last fight, there were a lot of things I didn’t get to do. My rhythm was way off. If you see my ‘TUF’ fights, you can see me do a little bit of everything, including takedowns.
“Sometimes, in actual UFC bouts, I felt a little frozen. Of course, Matt Brown is tough, but if I let my full game go, I can be successful no matter where the fight goes. My primary goal in this fight is to never back down. I know he’ll be doing the same. We’ll meet in the middle and bang it out. It will be fireworks.”
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