UFC Fight Night 40: Matches to Make for the Entire Fight Card
It doesn't matter whether he's a favorite or an underdog. Matt Brown keeps on winning.
At UFC Fight Night 40 on Saturday, "The Immortal" broke down Erick Silva to earn a seventh consecutive win in the welterweight division. Critics can continue to question his technique and athleticism, but it is becoming hard to argue against Brown being one of the top contenders in the 170-pound class.
With so many wins in a row, it almost seems criminal that he isn't lined up for a title shot. However, he does still need to prove himself against a Top 10 welterweight.
Here are the fights that should be next for Brown, Silva and the rest of the UFC Fight Night 40 competitors.
Matchup: None (Released)
Anthony Lapsley reached the Octagon, but simply signing with the UFC might turn out to be the highlight of his MMA career.
In Lapsley's debut with the promotion, Jason High outwrestled him. Then, on Saturday, he suffered a nasty knockout loss to an opponent without a prior UFC win in Albert Tumenov.
Continually backing up and failing on telegraphed takedowns, Lapsley didn't give the UFC brass a reason to retain him. At 0-2 inside the Octagon and now 34 years old, he may not see UFC competition again.
Matchup: Wang Anying
Following a loss to Ildemar Alcantara in his UFC debut, Tumenov likely needed a win at UFC Fight Night 40 to keep his UFC career going.
The Russian did more than return to the win column, though. Absorbing only two strikes along the way, he continually backed Lapsley down and landed his lead left hook regularly. Late in the opening frame, that lead left hook eventually ended Lapsley's evening.
At 22 years old, Tumenov is suddenly looking like a very solid prospect again. A bout with The Ultimate Fighter: China contestant Wang Anying could allow Tumenov to maintain the momentum.
Matchup: None (Released)
Ben Wall continued to struggle inside the Octagon on Saturday.
On the heels of a knockout loss to Alex Garcia in his UFC debut, Wall needed a win over Justin Salas at UFC Fight Night 40. While the Australian had success stuffing Salas' takedowns early, a straight left hand flattened him midway through the opening round.
A 0-2 record usually leads to a fighter being released from the UFC roster. I don't see any exceptions being made in Wall's situation.
Matchup: Joe Proctor
Alternating wins and losses over his first four UFC bouts, Salas was having trouble gaining momentum inside the Octagon. He was given a good opportunity to get back on track against Wall, though.
Wall shut down five of Salas' takedown attempts, so he was forced to open up with his striking. That did not turn out to be a bad thing. Less than three minutes in, he floored Wall with a straight left and took home a knockout win.
A bout with Joe Proctor would give Salas a good chance to earn consecutive victories for the first time in his UFC career.
Matchup: Jimy Hettes
With his UFC 168 loss to Dennis Siver overturned, Manny Gamburyan technically entered UFC Fight Night 40 with back-to-back wins. A win over Nik Lentz on Saturday would have made him a serious contender in the featherweight division.
Unable to shut down Lentz's wrestling, Gamburyan spent five minutes on the bottom. Surrendering five takedowns over three rounds, he didn't have much time to unleash his heavy hands and only briefly threatened Lentz with an armbar on the ground.
Look for Gamburyan to be matched up with Jimy Hettes, who recently suffered a setback against Dennis Bermudez.
Matchup: Winner of Hatsu Hioki vs. Charles Oliveira
Lentz remained a featherweight contender with his win over Gamburyan at UFC Fight Night 40.
"The Carny" is now 4-1 since moving to 145 pounds, with his only loss coming against upcoming title challenger Chad Mendes. While he's going to need to gather some momentum to be under consideration for a shot at the championship, Lentz remains fairly close to the top.
During his lightweight days, he had a fight with Charles Oliveira end in a no-contest due to an illegal knee. Should the Brazilian beat Hatsu Hioki on June 28, Lentz could meet him in a rematch.
Matchup: Loser of Iuri Alcantara vs. Vaughan Lee
A matchup with Johnny Eduardo was supposed to tune up Eddie Wineland for a title run. That didn't happen on Saturday.
Wineland had trouble landing on the Brazilian early, scoring with only 10 percent of the strikes he threw. Then, in the final minute of the first round, Eduardo rocked him with a right hand. He followed up with another right hand and finished Wineland as a massive underdog.
Should Vaughan Lee lose to Iuri Alcantara at UFC Fight Night 41, he would provide Wineland with another intriguing striking matchup.
Matchup: Winner of Francisco Rivera vs. Takeya Mizugaki
Eduardo spent nearly two years away from competition, but he returned with a bang on Saturday.
Not given much chance to beat Wineland, the Brazilian surprised everyone with a stunning knockout win over the recent title challenger. The win suddenly made him a threat to bantamweight champion and Nova Uniao teammate Renan Barao.
The next step for Eduardo could be a bout with the winner of a UFC 173 bout between Francisco Rivera and Takeya Mizugaki. It might be a slight step down from Wineland, but Eduardo will need to prove this huge upset wasn't a fluke before he gets a matchup that could earn him a title shot.
Matchup: Danny Mitchell
Carrying an 11-0 record into UFC Fight Night 40, Yan Cabral was a sizable favorite over Zak Cummings.
Although he's a strong grappler, Cabral could not lock up a submission despite spending more than eight minutes on the canvas. Unable to stop Cummings, Cabral fell short on the scorecards due to positioning, as he spent more than five minutes on bottom.
He could now meet fellow grappler Danny Mitchell, who lost his UFC debut to Igor Araujo in March.
Matchup: Sergio Moraes
Cummings is starting to climb the welterweight ladder.
A win over Cabral won't put him near title contention, but Cummings is progressing and improving his defensive grappling. Cabral is dangerous on the ground, but he only threatened Cummings with submissions a couple of times.
With back-to-back submission wins, Sergio Moraes should be an even tougher test for Cummings.
Matchup: Darren Uyenoyama
Darrell Montague has not gotten off to a good start inside the Octagon.
At UFC Fight Night 40, he was beaten in all areas by Kyoji Horiguchi. Stumbling back to his corner at the end of the second round, Montague was fortunate to take the bout to a decision.
Now 0-2 inside the Octagon, he could be released by the world's top MMA promotion. He is in a flyweight division that needs depth, though, so a bout with Darren Uyenoyama, who has also lost two in a row, is a possibility.
Matchup: Chris Cariaso
At 23 years old, Horiguchi is already blossoming into a serious flyweight contender.
On Saturday, he picked up a fairly dominant win over Montague. Now 2-0 inside the Octagon, he should expect a Top 10 opponent in his next outing.
Also earning a decision win at UFC Fight Night 40, Chris Cariaso would be a good test for Horiguchi, as he is a more technical striker than Montague.
Matchup: Nick Ring
In his prior outing, Rafael Natal had a three-bout winning streak broken by Tim Kennedy. Stepping down in competition to face an unranked Ed Herman, Natal had a good chance to get back into the win column.
The fight was close throughout and came down to the judges in the end. While MMA media were split on the decision, according to MMADecisions.com, all three scorecards that mattered sided with Herman.
Now having lost two in a row, Natal might need to win in his next appearance to remain in the UFC. A bout with another slumping middleweight in Nick Ring seems like a possibility.
Matchup: Winner of Andrew Craig vs. Cezar Ferreira
A contestant on The Ultimate Fighter 3, Herman is quietly putting together one of the longer UFC careers ever. "Short Fuse" has been with the promotion for nearly eight years and doesn't appear to be on his way out anytime soon.
On Saturday, he bested a tough adversary in Natal on the scorecards. Stopping five out of six takedowns proved crucial, as Herman beat the Brazilian up with some dirty boxing in the later rounds.
It won't be enough to earn Herman a fight with a Top 15 middleweight, but this was an important win for the UFC veteran. Look for him to meet the winner of a June 28 bout between Andrew Craig and Cezar Ferreira.
Matchup: Josh Sampo
At 22 years old, Louis Smolka had the look of a future star following a win over Alptekin Ozkilic in his UFC debut. Even after suffering his first MMA loss on Saturday, he still appears to have a bright future.
After he secured only one takedown on 10 attempts and got taken down twice by Chris Cariaso, Smolka's clinch striking wasn't enough to put him ahead on the scorecards. "Da Last Samurai" entered the weekend with no prior losses, but he'll head back to Hawaii looking for reasons he came up empty at UFC Fight Night 40.
Also coming off his first UFC loss, Josh Sampo would be a good next opponent.
Matchup: Kyoji Horiguchi
Since losing back-to-back fights to John Moraga and Jussier Formiga, Cariaso has been on a roll.
On Saturday, he scored a third straight victory, edging Smolka on the scorecards. While it was a strong showing from Cariaso, not every judge agreed he won, and some MMA media members also saw the bout in Smolka's favor, according to MMADecisions.com.
Despite his winning streak, Cariaso's victory over Smolka probably wasn't impressive enough to earn him a fight with a Top 10 flyweight. Instead, he could end up testing a rising Kyoji Horiguchi, who also picked up a win at UFC Fight Night 40.
Matchup: Daniel Omielanczuk
Ruan Potts made his way to the Octagon on Saturday. However, based on his performance at UFC Fight Night 40, his career might not progress much farther than that.
After being taken down by Soa Palelei early, Potts was stopped with ground-and-pound in less than three minutes. It was only his second career loss, but he wasn't able to do much offensively against an opponent who is not ranked in the UFC's shallow heavyweight division.
The South African will likely get one more opportunity to pick up a win inside the Octagon. That could come against Daniel Omielanczuk, who suffered his first UFC loss in April.
Matchup: Jared Rosholt
Palelei continues to get it done inside the Octagon.
With his victory over Potts on Saturday, he now owns a 3-0 UFC record during his current run with the promotion. "The Hulk" also has not lost since a November 2010 bout against light heavyweight contender Daniel Cormier.
As Palelei looks to continue his climb in the heavyweight division, a bout with Jared Rosholt would be a good option.
Matchup: Amir Sadollah
With two wins under the Legacy FC banner, Tim Means earned his way back onto the UFC roster.
His return on Saturday was unsuccessful, though. While he seemed to do more damage over three rounds, Neil Magny recorded four timely takedowns to steal a decision.
Despite the loss, Means is still a solid asset to the UFC welterweight division. If Amir Sadollah decides to come back anytime soon, he'd be an intriguing opponent for Means.
Matchup: Alex Garcia
Following back-to-back losses against Sergio Moraes and Seth Baczynski, Magny appeared to be on his way out of the world's top MMA promotion. Instead, he's now beginning to look like a solid prospect in the 170-pound class.
At UFC Fight Night 40, he picked up a second straight win with some key takedowns against Means. It wasn't a stellar performance, but Magny got the job done and continued in the right direction.
Next up could be Alex Garcia, a fellow welterweight up-and-comer who required a narrow decision to keep momentum going in his latest outing.
Matchup: Sam Stout
A move to the lightweight division did not produce immediate results for Erik Koch.
On Saturday, the former featherweight contender looked to pick up a second straight win since moving to 155 pounds. Instead, he left with a loss to Daron Cruickshank, who finished Koch with a head kick and a series of elbows.
Koch may now have to choose between remaining at lightweight and returning to 145 pounds. Should he stay at 155 pounds, a stand-up bout with Sam Stout could be interesting.
Matchup: Ramsey Nijem
At this point, Cruickshank has sufficiently showed the lightweight division that standing with him probably isn't a good idea.
The Michigan native was an underdog heading into UFC Fight Night 40, but he coaxed Koch into a stand-up bout and took advantage of his opponent's questionable game plan. Cruickshank's knockout win over Koch was his second in two fights.
He will likely need to get some more momentum going before he gets a shot at a Top 15 lightweight, so a bout with fellow The Ultimate Fighter veteran Ramsey Nijem is a possibility right now.
Matchup: Tom Watson
When Lorenz Larkin and Costas Philippou met on Saturday, most believed the man to land the first big shot would probably come away with the win.
Ultimately, Philippou landed that punch and put Larkin away in the first round. With two losses in a row, Larkin may suddenly be in danger of getting released from the UFC roster.
A must-win bout with Tom Watson could be next for "The Monsoon."
Matchup: Winner of Nate Marquardt vs. James Te Huna
Heading into Saturday with back-to-back losses, Philippou needed a win over Larkin.
With a nasty combination, he got that victory and made a big statement in the process. Despite recent losses to fellow middleweight contenders, he remains a couple of big wins away from a shot at the 185-pound championship.
A bout with the winner of a June 28 matchup between Nate Marquardt and James Te Huna would bring more attention to Philippou as he looks to assert himself as a serious title threat once again.
Matchup: John Hathaway
It seems Silva falters every time he is given a chance to break through.
At UFC Fight Night 40, Silva went into Ohio, Matt Brown's home territory, and came away with a loss. The Brazilian had Brown hurt early, but he was unable to capitalize and eventually broke down under his opponent's pressure and volume striking.
With both Silva and John Hathaway having succumbed to Dong Hyun Kim recently, they should pair up in the coming months.
Matchup: Winner of Robbie Lawler vs. Jake Ellenberger
Brown keeps on silencing the doubters. On the verge of being cut by the UFC a few years ago, The Immortal now owns a longer UFC winning streak than any non-champion.
On Saturday, he overcame some early adversity after eating a heavy kick to the body. When he settled in, he began overwhelming Silva in the clinch and eventually finished the Brazilian in the third stanza.
It's about time Brown found himself in a bout to determine a welterweight title challenger. With the winner of a matchup between Rory MacDonald and Tyron Woodley likely to produce Johny Hendricks' next adversary, Brown could meet the winner of a UFC 173 fight between Robbie Lawler and Jake Ellenberger.
Should Brown defeat either of those men, he'd be more than due a shot at UFC gold.