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Matt Brown noncommittal about fighting future after thunderous KO at UFC Norfolk

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Norfolk-Brown vs Sanchez
Matt Brown knockout out Diego Sanchez in the first round at UFC Norfolk.
Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Will UFC Norfolk be the swan song of Matt Brown?

That was the big question surrounding Brown’s matchup against Diego Sanchez on Saturday night, as Brown first committed to UFC Norfolk serving as his retirement bout, then walked that talk back once fight week began. Brown was equally noncommittal after the fight, saying he would need to take time to make his decision after scoring a devastating, highlight-reel first-round knockout over Sanchez.

“I don’t know, man. To be honest, I’m not even thinking about it right now,” Brown said when asked about his fighting future at Saturday night’s post-fight press conference. “To be honest, it’s not even really a thought in my mind. I’m thinking about enjoying tonight and we’ll talk about it later.”

Brown, 36, snapped a three-fight losing streak in thunderous fashion, flatlining Sanchez with a ferocious standing elbow in UFC Norfolk’s co-main event.

The win marked Brown’s first victory in over two years, and afterward it was evident the veteran’s recent run of bad results had been weighing heavily on his mind.

“With Diego, I was kinda trying to play it slow,” Brown explained. “I didn’t even want to knock him out that fast. I mean, I shouldn’t say that I didn’t want to, but it wasn’t really in the gameplan. Like, I was kinda feeling him out and I was gathering my distance and setting things up for later rounds, and the opportunity just presented itself, just naturally.

“Just ending it feels good, more than anything. I felt like I needed a finish. I don’t know, I just wasn’t getting the job done, so I had to come out here and show that — at least show to myself that I’m better than I’ve been fighting.”

Still, the performance was somewhat bittersweet for Brown. “The Immortal” holds many fond memories of watching Sanchez in the early days of the UFC, and inflicting such grievous damage to one of his favorite fighters was a difficult task for Brown to have to reconcile. He told Sanchez as much after the fight.

“I told him, I said, ‘Man, I’ve got more respect for you than anybody in the game,’ and that’s a fact,” Brown said. “That’s true, man. I actually picked Diego to be champion way back in the day when he was in the UFC. I thought he would beat B.J. Penn when he fought for that title. I’ve been a huge fan of his since then.

“I was watching The Ultimate Fighter 1 with him on it and cheering him on. I think I even had King of Cage (videos) with him before he was even on The Ultimate Fighter, and I was loving the guy. I can’t say enough good things about Diego. There’s nobody else I would less rather do it to.”

Like Sanchez, Brown (21-16) has competed for a long time in the UFC — nearly a decade. Over the course of that run, he has racked up a 14-10 record while firmly establishing himself as one of the most entertaining and fan-friendly fighters in the welterweight division. If his final snapshot in a career filled with ultra-violent displays is his knockout of Sanchez, it would be a fitting sendoff for one of the game’s most formidable brawlers.

But Brown isn’t ready to make that decision just yet.

And once he does, Brown ensured his choice is going to be the right one — a decision that comes from the heart, rather than one influenced by outside pressures.

“I’ve definitely had more people tell me not to retire than to retire, that’s for sure,” Brown said. “But to be honest, nobody other than me and my family really has any bearing on that, and close friends. So I’m not even going to allow anybody else’s opinions to get into my mind like that.”

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