Morning Matchmaker: Is it time for Matt Brown to get a title shot?
Matt Brown came back to dominate Erick Silva after almost being submitted early in the first round. Costas Philippou snapped his losing streak by knocking out Lorenz Larkin. And Daron Cruickshank added another highlight reel knockout to his resume.
UFC Fight Night in Cincinnati had seven knockouts and was one of the most entertaining events of the year. Here’s what should be next for some of the card’s biggest stars.
Some fans are clamoring for it and obviously Matt Brown thinks he deserves it. But no. Brown should not get a title shot next. As exciting as he is — and pound-for-pound he’s one of the most thrilling fighters in the world — Brown doesn’t have the resume of some of his peers in the welterweight division, despite seven straight wins. And let’s not forget that Erick Silva was ranked below him by a significant amount.
Who’s next: Hector Lombard
We’re witnessing a welterweight renaissance right now. The 170-pound division is the best in the UFC. Johny Hendricks will likely defend his title next against the winner of Tyron Woodley vs. Rory MacDonald. The Robbie Lawler-Jake Ellenberger victor will also be right up there. And then there’s Lombard, who is somewhat of a forgotten man. The UFC wanted him to fight Nick Diaz. That isn’t going to happen. Brown-Lombard is the bout to make and the winner should be the No. 1 contender’s understudy. If someone gets hurt, they slide right in.
We saw two different Erick Silvas on Saturday night. The first one damaged Matt Brown badly to the body and nearly finished him on the ground. The second one got tired awfully quickly and ended up getting hit quite a bit in the head. Brown is one of the elite fighters in the welterweight division and Silva isn’t there yet.
Who’s next: Siyar Bahadurzada
At age 29, with two losses in his last three fights, Silva might have achieved semi-gatekeeper status. His best victory has been against Jason High and his two opportunities against top-10 caliber talent — Brown and Dong Hyun Kim — have ended in knockout. His best bet is to be matched with another exciting fighter. Win or lose, Silva is at least good for entertaining fights.
Was Philippou not motivated against Luke Rockhold or was Lorenz Larkin just an easier opponent? Probably the latter. Larkin was going to stand up and that plays right into Philippou’s strength: power boxing. Philippou is fairly one dimensional, but that dimension is pretty devastating.
Who’s next: Ed Herman
Philippou showed some more Muay Thai than usual in his win over Larkin. He’s still a relative novice at MMA and his boxing is always going to be his biggest asset. It’s fairly technical and obviously he has power in both hands. Of course, Philippou is not a middleweight contender. He’s a guy, like Silva, who you can give the right style matchup and he can produce exciting outcomes. Herman could be that guy. "Short Fuse" likes to wrestle, but he might be baited into a boxing match with Philippou.
Cruickshank is one of the best pure strikers in all of MMA. His stand up can be beautiful in what can be a very ugly sport. Erik Koch didn’t even see the left head kick coming Saturday night. Cruickshank’s combinations are fluid and he’s spectacularly athletic.
Who’s next: Ramsey Nijem
Cruickshank is in a weird place right now. He’s not really a prospect and he isn’t exact;y a contender, either. Coming into UFC Fight Night, he wasn’t close to the top 15. But he can still get there. Nijem is in a similar spot. His prospect days are gone, but he’s made himself into a very useful UFC fighter. Nijem probably wouldn’t be able to get Cruickshank down, which means this would be a fun stand up bout.
Lentz has reached Jon Fitch/Yushin Okami territory. He’s incredibly annoying to fight and you can’t execute your game plan at all against him. That’s basically what happened to Manny Gamburyan. Lentz was on him from the opening bell. Gamburyan was playing defense the entire time.
Who’s next: Ricardo Lamas-Hacran Dias winner
Watching what happens in the future with Lentz will be interesting. Like Fitch, Okami and Jake Shields, he can be boring to watch. Nobody wants to face him and the UFC won’t want to put a top prospect against him, because he’ll just stymie their ascent up the ladder. With Chad Mendes getting the next title shot against Jose Aldo and the Cub Swanson-Jeremy Stephens waiting in the wings, the top part of the featherweight division is in a glut. Lamas has already lost to Aldo and he’s not a prospect. The UFC can give him next to Lentz, if he beats Dias. A prospect won’t be wasted and it makes sense as far as the rankings go.