Brown was born and raised in Jamestown, Ohio, graduating from Greeneview High School, and having competed in bodybuilding. Before Brown began training for a career in mixed martial arts, he was addicted to drugs and alcohol. Brown realized that he needed a hobby, to keep him away from the party lifestyle. His nickname "The Immortal" was given to him by his friends after he had survived an overdose from heroin. Brown initially began training in Japanese jiu-jitsu and later transitioned to a Jorge Gurgel affiliate, which led him to MMA.
On February 9, 2007 in Kennesaw, Georgia, Matt Brown won the ISCF (International Sport Combat Federation) East Coast Welterweight Championship over Douglas Lima by referee stoppage due to strikes at 2:50 of the second round.
After Brown thought his career was over due to money problems, The Ultimate Fighter tryouts came along and Brown made the show. Brown then began splitting time training with Matt Hume in Seattle, Washington and at Throwdown Training Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Brown was chosen as one of the thirty-two fighters to get a chance at a six-figure UFC contract in The Ultimate Fighter: Team Rampage vs. Team Forrest. Brown officially entered the show after defeating Josh Hall by TKO in the preliminary round. Brown moved on to the quarter finals by defeating Jeremy May in the first round via head kick KO. Brown faced eventual winner Amir Sadollah in the quarter-finals but lost by triangle choke in the second round.
Brown won his UFC debut at The Ultimate Finale 7 by defeating Matt Arroyo, a season six contestant, via second round TKO. The fight was a rematch from their 2007 fight, which Brown also won via TKO.
Brown lost his second fight in the organization by split decision to Korean Dong Hyun Kim at UFC 88. Kim threatened Brown with a rear-naked choke from back control in the first round, but became exhausted in the second round. In the third, Kim used some effective ground-and-pound and cut Brown with an elbow. All three judges scored the bout 29–28, two of them in Kim's favor. The decision was contested by the partisan American crowd in attendance with noticeable booing. Commentator Joe Rogan announced during the post-fight interviews that he believed Brown had won the fight.
After Matthew Riddle sustained a knee injury during training, Brown replaced him at UFC 91 and fought Ryan Thomas. Brown won by armbar in the second round.
Brown next fought at UFC 96 on March 7, 2009, where he fought Pete Sell. Brown defeated Sell in a somewhat controversial fight, winning via TKO in the first round.
Brown was scheduled to fight on the TUF 9 Finale card against Anthony Johnson. However, Johnson pulled out of the fight after injuring his knee during practice. The UFC set out to find a replacement for Johnson but Brown pulled out as well, to heal up some nagging injuries.
Brown faced James Wilks at UFC 105, defeating him via TKO in the third round. Brown landed a flying knee during the second round which knocked Wilks to the canvas and in the third round, Brown escaped a near fight ending submission attempt by Wilks to take top position. After obtaining full mount, Brown landed multiple unanswered strikes, causing the referee to stop the fight awarding Brown his third straight UFC win, bumping his overall UFC record to 4–1.
During a radio interview held by MMAWeekly, Brown stated he would like to fight Renzo Gracie for his next fight. Instead, Brown faced Ricardo Almeida on March 27, 2010 at UFC 111. Brown lost the fight by rear-naked choke in the second round.
Brown had a rematch with Chris Lytle on July 3, 2010 at UFC 116. He lost the fight via submission in the second round.
Brown was expected to face Canadian Rory MacDonald on November 20, 2010 at UFC 123. However, MacDonald was forced from the card with an injury and replaced by Brian Foster, who defeated Brown by submission (guillotine choke) in the second round of their bout. After his third consecutive loss, it was announced on ESPN's "MMA Live" that Brown had been released from the promotion. However, Ariel Helwani announced that Brown had in fact not been released from the UFC, citing his source as the UFC itself.
Brown was expected to face Mark Scanlon on March 3, 2011 at UFC Live: Sanchez vs. Kampmann. However, Scanlon was forced off the card and replaced by Matthew Riddle. Not long after the Riddle-Brown announcement was made, it was announced that Riddle had been pulled from the fight.
Brown was expected to face Rich Attonito on June 26, 2011 at UFC on Versus 4. However, main card participant Martin Kampmann was forced out of his bout with John Howard with an injury and Brown was chosen as his replacement, while Attonito faced Daniel Roberts. Brown won the fight against Howard via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
Brown was expected to face British fighter John Hathaway on November 5, 2011 at UFC 138, replacing an injured Pascal Krauss. However, John Hathaway was forced to pull out of the bout due to an undisclosed injury and Brown was pulled from the event. Instead Brown faced Seth Baczynski on November 19, 2011 at UFC 139. He lost the fight via submission in the second round.
Brown fought Chris Cope on February 4, 2012 at UFC 143. Brown won the fight via TKO in the second round.
Brown fought prospect Stephen Thompson on April 21, 2012 at UFC 145. Brown handed Thompson his first professional loss via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-27, 30-27).
Brown faced Luis Ramos on June 22, 2012 at UFC on FX: Maynard vs. Guida, replacing an injured Matthew Riddle. Brown earned his third straight victory with a second-round TKO over Ramos.
Brown next faced Mike Swick on December 8, 2012 at UFC on Fox 5. Despite being a slight underdog, Brown dominated on the ground in the first round, threatening with D'arce and triangle chokes. He eventually won the fight via knockout in the second round, capping a 4-0 year for Brown in 2012.
Brown was expected to face Dan Hardy on April 20, 2013 at UFC on Fox 7. However, Hardy was forced out of the bout with an injury and replaced by Jordan Mein. Brown won via TKO due to punches and elbows to the body in the second round, the win also earned him his first Fight of the Night bonus award.
Brown was expected to face Thiago Alves on August 17, 2013 at UFC Fight Night 26. However, Alves pulled out of the bout citing an injury and was replaced by Mike Pyle. Brown won via knockout due to punches in twenty nine seconds of round one. The win also earned Brown his first Knockout of the Night bonus award.
Brown was expected to face former WEC Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit on December 14, 2013 at UFC on Fox 9. However, in the week leading up to the event, Brown pulled out of the bout citing a back injury. As a result, Condit was removed form the card as well.
Brown faced Brazilian Erick Silva in his main-event debut at UFC Fight Night 40. After surviving a gruelling start of the first round, in which Silva dropped him with a body kick and almost caught him in a rear-naked choke, Brown came to win the fight via TKO due to punches in the third round. The win also earned Brown an extra $100,000 as he received both a Fight of the Night and a Performance of the Night bonus award.
Brown faced Robbie Lawler in a 5-round Welterweight title eliminator bout on July 26, 2014 at UFC on Fox 12. He lost the bout via unanimous decision. Brown received a bonus award for Fight of the Night.
A bout with Tarec Saffiedine was expected to take place on February 14, 2015 at UFC Fight Night 60. However, it was announced on January 1, 2015 that Saffiedine had pulled out of the bout, citing a groin injury. Subsequently, Brown was pulled from the event altogether.
Brown was then rescheduled to face Johny Hendricks on March 14, 2015 at UFC 185. Hendricks won the one sided fight via unanimous decision.
Brown was briefly linked to a bout with Nate Diaz on July 11, 2015 at UFC 189. However, in mid-April, Brown announced that the pairing had been scrapped. Brown instead faced Tim Means on the card. He won the fight via submission in the first round.
Brown was expected to face Kelvin Gastelum on November 21, 2015 at The Ultimate Fighter Latin America 2 Finale. However, Brown withdrew from the fight in early November citing an ankle injury. He was replaced by Neil Magny.
Brown next faced Demian Maia on May 14, 2016 at UFC 198. He lost the fight via submission in the third round.
Brown next faced Jake Ellenberger on July 30, 2016 at UFC 201. He lost the fight via TKO early in the first round.
A pairing with Tarec Saffiedine was rescheduled and was expected to take place on 30 December 2016 at UFC 207. However, Brown was pulled from the fight on November 11 in favor of a matchup with Donald Cerrone three weeks earlier at UFC 206. He lost the fight via knockout in the third round.
Brown will face Diego Sanchez on November 11, 2017 at UFC Fight Night 120 and is expected to be his retirement fight.
Matt and his wife had twin boys on October 8, 2010. Before fighting professionally, Brown was a personal trainer.
Matt is an avid heavy metal fan, and was in the crowd when former Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell was murdered on stage while performing with his band Damageplan on December 8, 2004. Matt approached heavy metal vocalist Jamey Jasta of the band Hatebreed to write his UFC entrance theme song. The song titled "The Immortal" was released on iTunes on March 10, 2015. Matt also appears on The Great MMA Debate podcast alongside Mark Coleman, Damon Martin, and Jeremy Loper.
On the morning of May 15, 2016 in Curitiba, Brazil, Matt Brown was attacked in public by his former jiu-jitsu coach Rodrigo Botti. The assault began in the hotel lobby where Brown was staying and it escalated outside where it was witnessed by a number of bystanders. The attack was captured on video and Botti was detained by another man until the police arrived at the scene.
After his fight with Jake Ellenberger, Matt recalled having serious post-concussion symptoms, often slurring speech and having trouble with short-term memory. His wife, Colleen Brown, has also stated that Matt's memory is "not as sharp as it once was". He stated he has doubts continuing to fight due to his concussion. Months later he was knocked out by Donald Cerrone via headkick. Ultimate Fighting Championship
Fight of the Night (Three times)
Knockout of the Night (One time)
Performance of the Night (One time)
Tied most finishes in UFC Welterweight division (11)
International Sport Combat Federation
ISCF East Coast Welterweight Championship (One time)
2014 May Fight of the Month vs. Erick Silva
2012 All-Violence First Team
2013 All-Violence First Team