Matt Brown: ‘Blueprint is there’ how to beat Stephen Thompson, but some fighters refuse to follow

It’s been 11 years since Matt Brown handed Stephen Thompson his first loss in the UFC. He stands by his strategy as the best possible way to beat the multi-time welterweight title challenger.

If Shavkat Rakhmonov wants to beat Thompson in their key matchup at UFC 296, Brown believes Rakhmonov would be wise to follow it.

“We don’t know that he’s going to beat ‘Wonderboy,’” Brown said of Rakhmonov on The Fighter vs. The Writer. “‘Wonderboy’s one of those guys — if you don’t fight him right, he’s going to f****** get you.

Kevin Holland found that out. Kevin could beat ‘Wonderboy’ I think 90 out of a 100 times, but that one time, he’s like, ‘I’m going to stand with you, and not only am I going to stand with you, I’m going to do distance fighting with you. I’m going to give you space to throw your techniques, and I’m going to throw mine too, and we’re going to see who’s better.’ Well, ‘Wonderboy’ is pretty f****** good at it. You don’t want to play that game with him.”

Brown, who’s second all-time for knockouts in UFC history, didn’t finish Thompson back in 2012. Instead, he secured a dominant three-round decision win. While taking Thompson to the ground played a part in his victory, Brown argues that it was another part of his game plan to attack the dazzling striker that really made the difference in the fight.

“I felt like I kind of opened the mystery box of ‘Wonderboy’ when I fought him,” Brown said. “This is how you fight him. You walk forward, you bite down on your mouthpiece, you walk forward, you might take a shot, but don’t stand out here [at distance] where he can spin, where he can blitz. Where he can dance around with his fast feet and long limbs and s***. Go forward, and it doesn’t even have to be a wrestling thing.

“Everybody says I just wrestled him. I took him down — I think three or four of the takedowns were sweeps, more like Muay Thai style. That’s what you’ve got to do. You’ve got to be right in his face.”

With a karate background, Thompson loves throwing strikes from awkward angles, particularly when he has room to work. He often throws his opponents off with a sideways stance that appears difficult to attack. Brown said patience and a willingness to engage in a grueling, grimy battle really makes all the difference.

“I see it all the time — guys with that style do not handle it well and they’ll wear themselves out trying to create distance all the time,” Brown said. “That’s how you fight them. The blueprint is there.

“You fight their style, they’re probably going to win. That’s what fighting is. That’s literally what combat sports is.”

Rakhmonov remains undefeated with a 100 percent finishing rate in his career. Many insiders call him a future champion in the division.

If Rakhmonov plays to Thompson’s strengths, that might be a recipe for disaster.

“Wonderboy’s whole game is, how do I impose my will on you by funneling you to my strength,” Brown said. “A lot of these guys, he doesn’t have to funnel them. They try to play to his strength.

“It’s almost like if someone was fighting Bo Nickal and their entire game plan was to out-wrestle him. Like, what are you doing? I see that all the time when these ‘Wonderboy’ fights.”

Despite the warning, Brown doesn’t expect Rakhmonov to try and prove himself against Thompson.

“I don’t see Shavkat playing that game with him either,” he said. “I think Shavkat’s going to close the distance on him, put a lot of pressure on him, be aggressive and f*** him up pretty good. Moral of the story. I’m favoring Shavkat pretty heavily personally.”

Listen to new episodes of The Fighter vs. The Writer every Tuesday with audio only versions of the podcast available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

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