Fighters on the Rise | UFC 302

His most recent win over Salikhov in February felt like a moment long in the making, featuring the kind of finish that highlighted the sharp, technical skills pundits have always acknowledged as a key part of Brown’s arsenal, while also featuring the kind of emotional outburst afterwards that showed how hard the nine-year UFC veteran has been working to achieve that kind of result.

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There are finishes that are going to best it in the Knockout of the Year race, but in terms of technique and just how pretty it was, there have been few better this year, or in recent years, for that matter. Midway through the opening round, Brown put together a lovely one-one-two combination, sliding off to his left just a little with each shot, until the swift right hand found Salikhov’s chin and put the welterweight stalwart on the deck.

Brown is 6-1 over his last seven, with his only loss in that stretch coming in Perth against Jack Della Maddalena, and if he adds another win to his resume on Saturday, he could very well make a case for having a number next to his name. His opponent, dos Santos, is a comparable figure in a comparable position, and if Brown can post another strong outing against another “Second 15” inhabitant in the main card opener this weekend, there will be a few more folks recognizing how good he’s been over these last several years on Sunday morning.

Cesar Almeida

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