UFC

Brown gets Top 10 opponent

Matt Brown gets his first top-10 opponent in Tarec Saffedine.
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Mike Chiappetta

Mike Chiappetta has documented the fast-growing sport of mixed martial arts since 2006 for news organizations including SB Nation, NBCSports.com, FIGHT! Magazine, AOL and ESPN. He appears regularly as an analyst on countless television shows and radio programs, including CBS Radio and MMA Beat. Follow him on Twitter.

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Matt Brown’s unlikely march towards the top of the UFC’s welterweight division may have a new but welcome roadblock in its path. Brown wanted a top 10 opponent next, and it appears he’ll get one, as FOX Sports has learned that the UFC plans to match him up with No. 8 ranked Tarec Saffiedine in December.

Brown, riding a six-fight win streak, is coming off a 29-second knockout of Mike Pyle in Boston on Aug. 17.

On Thursday, UFC president Dana White confirmed the promotion’s plan to FOX Sports, but said that the pairing is dependent upon Saffiedine’s health. The former Strikeforce welterweight champion was forced out of his expected UFC debut in July due to an undisclosed injury, and is still on the mend, but he recently told mixed martial arts media outlet MMAFighting.com that he hopes to be back in the cage by the end of the year, a timeline which would fit the UFC’s plan.

Brown recently cracked the rankings at No. 10 after his dismantling of the highly regarded veteran Pyle. The win also marked his fourth straight knockout victory, as he continues an extraordinary turnaround from a time where it appeared his UFC run was in jeopardy.

When 2011 ended, Brown (18-11) had lost four of his last five and was barely above .500 for his career, but it was his exciting style that kept him on the roster, and he’s managed to complement his dynamic striking with extreme aggression and finishing instincts to build forward momentum.

After his last fight, he acknowledged his goal was to continue marching towards a date with longtime champion Georges St-Pierre. A win over Saffiedine would add greatly to his cause.

Saffiedine (14-3) excelled during his Strikeforce run, going 7-1 and capturing the championship with a strong unanimous decision victory over former UFC No. 1 middleweight contender Nate Marquardt. Known for a kick-heavy offense, the 26-year-old Belgian is a graceful striker, a sharp contrast to Brown, who prefers to stalk his opponents around the cage and fight from inside.

White was not sure which December show would be the most likely landing spot for the matchup. As of now, there is only one officially announced card for the month, UFC 168 on Dec. 28, but at least two other events are probable.

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