Matt Brown does not just beat men. He breaks them.
Brown put away former Jungle Fight champion Erick Silva with third-round punches in their unforgettable UFC Fight Night “Brown vs. Silva” main event on Saturday at the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati. Silva, 29, succumbed to an accumulation of violent blows 2:11 into round three and then left the cage on a stretcher as a precautionary measure.
A quarterfinalist on Season 7 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series, Brown was once regarded as little more than an entertaining gatekeeper but has emerged as the unlikeliest of title contenders in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s welterweight division. The 33-year-old Xenia, Ohio, native looks nothing like the man who submitted to Seth Baczynski, Brian Foster, Chris Lytle and Ricardo Almeida in a five-fight span a few short years ago. Brown has posted seven straight wins, defeating Silva, Mike Pyle, Jordan Mein, Mike Swick, Luis Ramos, Stephen Thompson and Chris Cope in succession. Only Thompson managed to go the distance with him.
While Brown openly pined for a showdown with reigning UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks, his resume still lacks a signature victory over one of the division’s elite. A matchup against the winner of the forthcoming UFC 173 battle between Robbie Lawler and Jake Ellenberger would present him with the opportunity to change that fact, all while thrilling the masses.
Silva’s future, immediate and otherwise, is far more difficult to handicap. The judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt was long viewed as a potential superstar, but he now owns a 4-4 record in UFC competition. Of more concern is the amount of damage he absorbed against Brown, who landed 118 of his 166 attempted significant strikes, according to FightMetric figures. If Silva checks out medically and recovers without issues, a date with the loser of the UFC Fight Night “Cerrone vs. Miller” clash between Rick Story and John Howard on July 16 seems appropriate.
In wake of UFC Fight Night “Brown vs. Silva,” here are five other matchups that ought to be considered:
Costas Philippou vs. Nate Marquardt-James Te Huna winner: The brick-fisted Philippou rebounded from back-to-back losses to Francis Carmont and Luke Rockhold in spectacular fashion, as he knocked out Lorenz Larkin with a two-punch combination and re-established himself as a person of interest in the middleweight division. Remember, the 34-year-old Cypriot once rattled off five consecutive victories inside the Octagon. Marquardt, a former middleweight King of Pancrase, will return to familiar haunts at 185 pounds when he faces Te Huna on June 28 in New Zealand.
Daron Cruickshank vs. Jorge Masvidal: Cruickshank scored the most significant victory of his 19-fight career, wiping out highly regarded Roufusport export Erik Koch with a first-round head kick and follow-up punches. “The Detroit Superstar” always had a flair for the dramatic and looks to be positioning himself for more meaningful matchups at 155 pounds, having won nine of his past 11 bouts. Masvidal rolled to a unanimous decision over Pat Healy at UFC on Fox 11 in April, improving to 3-1 since arriving in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Chris Cariaso vs. Justin Scoggins-Dustin Ortiz winner: Often overlooked in the fledgling flyweight division, the ever-consistent Cariaso slowed the rise of Louis Smolka by taking a split decision over the promising Hawaiian prospect. The 32-year-old California-based kickboxer has quietly pieced together a three-fight winning streak since suffering consecutive defeats to John Moraga and Jussier da Silva. The unbeaten Scoggins will collide with Ortiz at “The Ultimate Fighter 19” Finale on July 6.
Kyoji Horiguchi vs. John Lineker-Alptekin Ozkilic winner: Horiguchi’s stock continues to soar. The 23-year-old Japanese import earned his seventh straight win with a unanimous decision over former Tachi Palace Fights champion Darrell Montague. Blending his baffling lateral movement with blinding hand speed and improving overall skills, Horiguchi figures to move quickly in the 125-pound race. The heavy-handed Lineker will toe the line against Ozkilic at UFC Fight Night “Cerrone vs. Miller” on July 16.
Soa Palelei vs. Jared Rosholt: A late bloomer at 36, Palelei has won 11 fights in a row, nine of them first-round finishes. He made Ruan Potts his latest victim, as he knocked the South African newcomer unconscious with first-round ground-and-pound from the mount. Palelei has not tasted defeat since submitting to punches from Daniel Cormier at an Xtreme MMA event in November 2010. The once-beaten Rosholt pushed his current winning streak to six fights at UFC Fight Night “Minotauro vs. Nelson” in April, when he captured a unanimous decision over Daniel Omielanczuk.