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TUF: 'China' results recap: What's next for Dong Hyun Kim?

In the main event of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "China" Finale at Venetian CotaiArena in Macau, Dong Hyun Kim lived up to his moniker as "Stun Gun" by knocking out John Hathaway in devastating fashion. We analyze the best suitable options for Kim, and try to shed some light on who could be his next opponent inside the Octagon.

Suhaimi Abdullah

You live by the gun, you die by the gun.

Dong Hyun Kim knocked out John Hathaway in spectacular fashion in Macau this weekend (Sat., March 1, 2014) at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "China" Finale, and the mixed martial arts (MMA) world was buzzing long before you were able to make breakfast. Some are calling his spinning back elbow an early candidate for "Knockout of the Year."

"Stun Gun" has been looking rejuvenated and reignited to be a force at 170 pounds, and it's time to assess his next move.

Fortunately, there are plenty of options in the welterweight division.

With Georges St. Pierre thoroughly enjoying signing autographs in his time away from the sport, there isn't a clear challenger that could face the winner of Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler, who scrap for the strap at UFC 171. There are a lot of great fighters in the division, but nobody has an advantage over the other at the moment.

This works in Kim's favor.

It's not like "Stun Gun" has done enough to earn a title fight. His record of 19-2-1 (1) is very impressive, and despite embarking on a four-fight winning streak, his inclusion in a title fight over a number of other fighters who compete at 170 pounds would be ludicrous.

What he does have going for him is there are a number of fantastic match ups at welterweight which could give us a little more clarity of how things could go, and Kim will be watching a series of upcoming contests with a close eye.

There is Carlos Condit, Tyron Woodley, Hector Lombard, Jake Shields, Jake Ellenberger, and Tarec Saffiedine in a class above the rest, and three out of those six competitors will taste victory in the next two months, since they all face each other.

You also have Rory MacDonald, who is eager to fight for the title, but chances are he's going to face one of those aforementioned contenders.

Kim could also challenge one of those winners, but realistically, it makes more sense for the Korean to compete against someone who is at his level. That's not a knock on Kim; however, the top welterweights may be just one more victory away from a title fight.

Mike Pyle was victorious last weekend at UFC 170, and since he obliterated T.J. Waldburger with devastating ground-and-pound, a fight between "Quicksand" and Kim could be on the horizon, since their wins are one week apart from each other.

That could be a lot of fun.

And don't forget, Matt Brown is looking for a fight for UFC's return to Cincinnati, and a different-looking rematch between both welterweights is possible. There's also a great welterweight scrap set for UFC Fight Night 37 next week in London, England, pitting rising prospect Gunnar Nelson against deadly finisher Omari Akhmedov on the main card.

The UFC 171 "Prelims" features Kelvin Gastelum trying to continue his winning streak against UFC veteran Rick Story, and at UFC Fight Night 38 in April, John Howard faces Ryan LaFlare on the main card, as well.

If we can exhaust you with one more, Patrick Cote faces Kyle Noke at TUF: "Nations" Finale in Quebec City on April 16, and slotting Kim against either of those sluggers isn't a bad idea, either.

Clearly, there are plenty of options for "Stun Gun" to consider while he and his lady friend sitting cage side enjoy several piña coladas, wherever he decides to take her with his bonus money.

The problem with analyzing what's next for a fighter after a big win such as Kim's, is we focus too much on title aspirations, and we need to be more precise on what could be next in the simplest of terms.

And that's another fight.

Yes, Kim's last two knockouts (over Hathaway and Erick Silva) were spectacular, yet he's not going to fight for a title anytime soon. He does insert his name into the mix, though there's still a lot of yard work left to do in order for his path to be clear.

If "Stun Gun" is healthy enough to compete at UFC Fight Night 40 in Cincinnati, a second fight with Brown would be intense. That fight card desperately needs a main and co-main event -- so if he's good to go, let them fight.

Realistically, Macau's main event winner could fight anyone who needs an opponent, and the goal stays the same for him. He can't afford to lose, though, since that would kill his momentum and force him to the back of the line. He really can't afford to slip.

We all remember what happened when the Korean met Carlos Condit at UFC 132. He's on a roll, and good for him. But, it's important as ever to keep those wheels rolling.

Any of those names doing anything for you?

For complete TUF: "China" Finale results, including blow-by-blow coverage of the entire "Fight Pass" card, click here.

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