UFC welterweight Matt Brown (11-7 MMA, 4-1 UFC) quickly turned heads as one scary, aggressive guy on "The Ultimate Fighter 7" and has kept that reputation intact since the show. He's shrugged off a pedestrian record to emerge as a serious threat to the 170-pound division with three TKO wins in five post-"TUF" fights.
Ricardo Almeida (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC), Brown's next opponent at UFC 111, is impressed by the Ohio fighter's run in the UFC, which includes a 4-1 mark and a lone split-decision defeat. But aggression plays right into his hand.
"I always like fighting aggressive guys," Almeida recently told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). "I think it makes it a little bit easier than fighting someone who's going to play a very tactical approach."
Of course, easy is a relative term in the fight game, and for a highly decorated grappler such as Almeida, a well-established play against a fighter such as Brown is to take the fight to the mat.
Almeida, though, said he'll try to avoid the easy path. In other words, he's not simply diving for Brown's shoelaces when the punches start flying.
"I think my game's going through a little bit of an evolution right now," Almeida said. "Before, everyone knew I could finish fights on the ground only, and I think in the past two fights, I've shown improved wrestling and stand-up."
The 33-year-old New York City native came up short on the scorecards against Patrick Cote at UFC 86 and afterward, he rededicated himself to striking to make sure he could hold his own if the fight stayed up.
He isn't there quite yet; in his most recent appearance against Kendall Grove at UFC 101 this past August, Almeida won the day by taking the action down and maintaining top position.
Almeida has enlisted top UFC welterweight contender Frankie Edgar in his quest to become a more well-rounded fighter. He's working takedown defense with the Rutgers University wrestling team, which Edgar assistant coaches, and boxing with trainer Mark Henry.
It's a slow process, but he feels he's becoming a better all-around fighter.
"I don't really prepare for a fighter," Almeida said. "I prepare for techniques. Like, if there are certain techniques I want to use in a fight, I'll focus more on that."
And boxing, it seems, is at the top of Almeida's priorities. Brown is known for his heavy hands and skill in keeping takedown artists at bay. As with many of the welterweight division's best fighters, a wrestling base allows him to keep the action on its feet.
Almeida long ago resigned himself to fighting opponents who want to stand at all costs. He said he's waited for this kind of test against a fighter such as Brown.
"It's going to tell me what I need to do to get to the top of the welterweight division," he said.
If he can weather the storm, he said, he'll be a little better the next time out.
"I'm having a good time with it," Almeida said. "The key is getting that next win so it gives you time to get better and come back stronger."