After coming up short in an excellent opportunity against Quinton Jackson, Matt Hamill now has to go back to the drawing board to try to break into the exclusive club that is the UFC's light heavyweight contenders.
The loss ended a five-fight winning streak for Hamill, but that included his disqualification win over Jon Jones.
Despite his wrestling background, Hamill came nowhere near being able to take Jackson down with his double leg.
Hamill may be subjected to the title of gatekeeper from now on, but here are some opponents that he could have the chance to get back on track against in his next fight.
This matchup might be a little more of a step down in competition than necessary for Hamill, but it would test his wrestling to see if that part of Hamill's game was really as strong as we thought.
Despite being knocked out by Vladimir Matyushenko in his last fight, Brilz still has to be considered a tough fight for most in the light heavyweight division.
A win over Brilz would put Hamill right back in the same position he had been before the fight with Quinton Jackson, but a loss would be troubling.
Thiago Silva is on suspension until January 2012, but that would give Hamill some time to get back into the gym and re-invent himself as a fighter. Not to mention, it is doubtful that the UFC would throw Silva to the elite fighters in the division after a year-long absence.
In a way, a fight with Silva would be very similar to the fight with Quinton Jackson. The bout would be another win-win situation for Hamill in that a loss would be unsurprising, but a win would catapult Hamill into contender status.
Scheduled to meet at UFC 133 in August, Alexander Gustafsson and Vladimir Matyushenko are looking to break into the next echelon of UFC light heavyweights.
The winner of that fight could very well get the opportunity to do so against Matt Hamill.
While Hamill would be expected to win against either fighter, both possess plenty of threats and could produce an upset. If Hamill were to lose to one of these fighters, he could be on the verge of being released with another loss.
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira will be fighting Rich Franklin at UFC 133 in August. Win or lose, Nogueira could be an ideal opponent for Hamill.
Despite three disappointing performances in a row, a win over Nogueira is still something to be proud of.
Judging from his last fight against Phil Davis, Nogueira would provide an excellent test to see if Hamill can improve his takedowns. If not, Hamill won't be seeing another fight against someone like Quinton Jackson anytime soon.
Ryan Bader currently is scheduled to meet Tito Ortiz at UFC 132 in July. No matter what happens in that fight, Bader could be the next most most likely opponent for Hamill.
Bader is another strong wrestler who will test Hamill's takedowns, which is essential for Hamill to show that he is ready for another shot against a contender.
A loss to Bader would be only slightly damaging for Hamill, while a win could have "The Hammer" right back in a scheduled fight with a premier light heavyweight.
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