How tough is it to get a title shot in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight division?
Johny Hendricks had to win six in a row, which included three finishes AND victories over three former number one contenders. Jake Shields went unbeaten for nearly six years before he could cross over and get a crack at the crown, previously held by Georges St. Pierre.
Robbie Lawler won three straight, then had a little help from "Rush," who abandoned ship to get his head together.
That's why asking Matt Brown to keep on chuggin' is not the aberration it appears to be. In the wake of last night's epic display of violence (watch it) at UFC Fight Night 40, which saw Erick Silva leave the U.S. Bank Arena on a stretcher, the answer to every mixed martial arts (MMA) question has been MATT-FUCKING-BROWN.
It's a good day to be "Immortal."
But as the euphoria of Saturday night's (May 10, 2014) shootout in Cincinnati slowly begins to dissipate, the powers-that-promote will get back to the business of peddling fights, where Joe Silva will tinker with his 170-pound abacus in an effort to map out a fan-friendly future that also generates big business at the box office.
Easier said than done.
Reigning welterweight champion Johny Hendricks is riding the pine with a bum bicep and won't see action until November. In his absence, top-five contenders Rory MacDonald (No. 2) and Tyron Woodley (No. 3) will slug it out for the right to face "Bigg Rigg" in the bearded brawler's return.
Brown's record, mathematically, is more impressive.
But what he lacks are names like Demian Maia, Jake Ellenberger, Josh Koscheck, and Carlos Condit, something both "Ares" and "The Chosen One" have, that Brown doesn't. In fact, "The Immortal" has never beaten a top-10 opponent, though amusingly enough, he did knockout the Bellator welterweight champ back in 2007.
UFC could make him the next title contender if it really wanted to. Nick Diaz walked off a loss to "The Natural Born Killer" -- and a nine-month drug suspension -- straight into the UFC 158 main event, just because he "bothered" St. Pierre on a personal level.
Also known as the wolf-ticket principle.
Then we have Hector Lombard. "Lightning" has been very Brown-ish in his UFC career, in that he's treating the welterweight division like Jason Voorhees treats teen campers. But then you look at a couple of earlier fights and think, "How the heck did he lose THAT one?"
He's frightening, he's dominant, and he needs another big win before he gets a shot at the title.
That's why Lombard is the perfect opponent for Brown. The Olympian is the better grappler, but if given a choice, he likes to swing for the fences and put dudes out, which is why more than half of his 34 wins have ended by way of knockout or technical knockout.
I would rather see those two maniacs go for broke than ask Brown to fight the winner of Robbie Lawler vs. Jake Ellenberger, who collide at the UFC 173 pay-per-view (PPV) event later this month in Las Vegas, Nevada. Then again, that may depend on the winner.
Since getting stopped by Martin Kampmann in 2012, "The Juggernaut" has scored back-to-back wins over Jay Hieron and Nate Marquardt. A nice feather in his cap, but neither "The Thoroughbred" nor "The Great" are ranked in the top 15, and he followed those wins with a loss to MacDonald.
Still not sure how he's ranked No. 5.
But if Lawler prevails, facing Brown would make a nice "winner gets a title shot" match up, since "Ruthless" was one takedown away from beating Hendricks for the title at UFC 171 back in March. That could leave Lombard to face someone like Dong Hyun Kim, who is 19-2 and the winner of three straight.
Unless you have a better idea?