Robbie Lawler will get another shot at the title. | Photo: Josh Hedges/Zuffa/UFC/Getty
Robbie Lawler did what so many others could not over the last three years. He made Matt Brown blink.
Lawler utilized counters and powerful punching combinations, kicks to the body and a steely resolve in picking up a unanimous decision over Brown in the UFC on Fox 12 main event on Saturday at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. Scores were 49-46, 49-46 and 48-47, all for the “Ruthless” one, the win allowing Lawler to cement his position as the clear-cut No. 1 contender for the Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight crown.
Even in defeat, Brown’s star continued to shine. “The Immortal” held his own with the notoriously heavy-handed Lawler in the standup -- he wobbled the American Top Team representative with a searing right hand in the first round -- and connected with elbows and knees when he drew the former EliteXC champion into close-quarters exchanges.
In wake of UFC on Fox 12, “Lawler vs. Brown,” here are six matchups that ought to be considered:
Related: By the Numbers: UFC on Fox 12
Robbie Lawler vs. Johny Hendricks: Lawler left no doubt as to the identity of the No. 1 contender at 170 pounds. Since losing a contentious unanimous decision to Hendricks in their battle for the vacant welterweight championship at UFC 171 in March, the 32-year-old San Diego native has recorded consecutive victories over Brown and Jake Ellenberger. Lawler has compiled a stellar 5-1 record since returning to the UFC in February 2013. Hendricks, 30, underwent surgery to repair a torn biceps in March. The Team Takedown export has rattled off seven wins in eight appearances, losing only to Georges St. Pierre.
Anthony Johnson vs. Glover Teixeira: After a violent 44-second thrashing of Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in the co-headliner, Johnson’s stock sits at an all-time high. “Rumble” blitzed the respected Brazilian with a series of right uppercuts, finishing him in less than a minute. Johnson has found a home at 205 pounds after spending much of his career as a supersized welterweight and has become a serious player in a division ruled by champion Jon Jones. Teixeira failed his bid to dethrone Jones at UFC 172 in April, but the unanimous decision defeat was the 34-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt’s first loss in some nine years.
Dennis Bermudez vs. Conor McGregor-Dustin Poirier winner: Bermudez’s once-steady climb on the featherweight ladder has picked up considerable speed. “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 14 finalist ran his winning streak to seven fights, as he submitted Jackson-Wink MMA mainstay Clay Guida with a second-round rear-naked choke. Still only 27 years of age, Bermudez has grown into his considerable talents over the last year and now finds himself on the doorstep to title contention. McGregor and Poirier will collide at UFC 178 on Sept. 27 in Las Vegas.
Bobby Green vs. Donald Cerrone: Filling in for the injured Michael Johnson, Green would have had trouble scripting a better outcome. The surging 27-year-old former King of the Cage champion earned a split decision over the American Kickboxing Academy’s Josh Thomson and announced his presence as a person of interest in the UFC’s lightweight division. King has pieced together an impressive eight-fight winning streak dating back to September 2011, including Octagon victories over Thomson, Pat Healy, James Krause and Jacob Volkmann. Cerrone was ticketed for a bout with the unbeaten Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 178, but a knee injury has shelved the Dagestani standout and left “Cowboy” without a dance partner.
Matt Brown vs. Nick Diaz: Brown proved he belonged in the upper reaches of the welterweight division by going five hard rounds with Lawler. The unanimous decision defeat halted a seven-fight winning streak for “The Immortal,” but it does not figure to slow his momentum or bite into his popularity. A quarterfinalist on Season 7 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series, Brown has become a favorite of hardcore fans and will likely land another high-profile opponent on the rebound. Diaz has not fought since dropping a unanimous decision to St. Pierre at UFC 158, but he recently agreed to a multi-fight contract to return to the UFC and remains one of MMA’s most intriguing figures.
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Dan Henderson: Nogueira had no answer for the speed and power with which he was confronted in his ill-fated pairing with Johnson. In his first appearance in more than a year, the 38-year-old Brazilian was met by a barrage of uppercuts from “Rumble” and melted just 44 seconds into the first round of their short-lived co-headliner. Nogueira submitted Henderson with an armbar under the Pride Fighting Championships banner in 2005, and fans have clamored for a rematch ever since. With both men in the twilight of their respective careers, time could be running out on the idea.