It was quite the run for Matt Brown. While he seemed like he would be a lifelong .500 fighter for the UFC after a 5-5 start, he rattled off an amazing seven-fight winning streak that brought him to the brink of title contention.
Then came Robbie Lawler at UFC on Fox 12. The longtime MMA veteran used his superior technique to avoid danger and peppered Brown with punches and kicks en route to a unanimous-decision win in San Jose on Saturday night.
Now, it's back to the drawing board for the 33-year-old. What is next for him? Who could he fight next?
Let's take a look at a few options.
Carlos Condit is currently nursing an injured knee. Brown is likely nursing an injured hand (and probably a couple of other things, too). If the proverbial stars align just so...we might just see the two of them fight.
Brown vs. Condit is fairly similar to Brown vs. Lawler and would almost certainly be a fast-paced, high-volume scrap that would keep everyone on the edge of their seat. What's more, the fight would also help keep both men in the title picture, given their recent successes.
Again, the only thing standing in the way of this fight would be a quick return for Brown or a drawn-out healing process for Condit. Condit is targeting an early 2015 return, and if he can get back in the cage in January or February, this is a real possibility.
The Loser of Dong-Hyun Kim vs. Tyron Woodley
UFC: Macau 3 has actually been shaping up to be a deceptively good card, and sitting in the co-main event spot is a big welterweight fight between surging Korean Dong-Hyun Kim and hard-punching wrestler Tyron Woodley. The UFC, as you always hear, prefers to match fighters coming off losses against each other, and this fight, in all likelihood, will yield one of those.
Kim is actually hugely popular in South Korea, and the UFC has been actively booking him for fights in East Asia. That has kept him out of the limelight stateside, but make no mistake that he is deceptively close to a title shot at this time. That makes him a viable opponent for Brown, and the fight itself would be a solid main card tilt for a pay-per-view or Fight Night card.
Woodley is already reeling from a lopsided beatdown at the hands of Rory MacDonald. While the UFC bought into him hard when he decapitated Josh Koscheck, it seemed to have realized the error of its ways of late and isn't going to baby him back into contention.
Should Woodley wind up on his first losing streak, the UFC will have no qualms about putting him in against a fellow killer like Brown.
While the UFC generally prefers to match fighters coming off losses against each other, it also really likes to build up stars off the backs of wounded former greats. Well, Kelvin Gastelum may be a star in the making, and Brown is most certainly wounded. That makes this an advantageous fight for the The Ultimate Fighter 17 winner.
Despite his youth, Gastelum is a formidable welterweight, and it's tough to brush him off, even against a high-level fighter like Brown. His striking has radically evolved since TUF, and he has been the bigger threat in the wrestling and grappling departments right along.
That isn't to say Brown isn't the favorite here—merely that this is a fight the UFC can put together if it wants to put Gastelum on a fast track to title contention.