Following his dynamite win over Erick Silva last weekend at UFC Fight Night 40, UFC welterweight fighter Matt Brown declared his intention and desire for a UFC welterweight title fight with current reigning welterweight champion Johny Hendricks. While Brown is currently only No. 6 for UFC’s official rankings in the division, he still makes a strong case for becoming the next contender to fight Johny Hendricks for the UFC welterweight title.
With the current top five contenders at welterweight, none of the fighters possess a winning streak like that of Matt Brown. Brown currently holds a seven-fight winning streak, from February 2012 to today. The problem with the welterweight division right now is that champion Johny Hendricks is injured, and many fighters in the top 10 of the division believe they have a claim to a title shot.
Tyron Woodley thinks he is the top contender after his recent defeat of Carlos Condit. Hector Lombard believes he should get a title shot after beating one-time UFC title contender Jake Shields, who was recently released from the MMA promotion. Rory MacDonald claimed he was ready for a title shot after beating Demian Maia. MacDonald is set to fight Woodley next month at UFC 174. Robbie Lawler took Johny Hendricks to the limit in their fight for the vacant title but came up short. Later this month, Lawler will fight Jake Ellenberger at UFC 173. Surprisingly, Ellenberger is ranked No. 5 in the division, just above Brown, despite not having fought since July of last year. That fight was a crummy loss to MacDonald. While all of Brown’s wins may not have been against opponents ranked in the top five, such is the case for many of the fighters in the top five at the moment who are no longer on winning streaks.
Well, for one thing, the No. 4-ranked welterweight Carlos Condit is out of action for the time being with a torn ACL injury. He will not be fighting for a while. This essentially makes his ranking position pointless until he is ready to come back and take a fight. Remove Condit from the rankings, and suddenly Matt Brown is solidly in the top five of the division. Also, of all the contenders at welterweight right now, Brown has produced the best results. Of Brown’s last seven consecutive wins, six came by way of knockout finishes. In the year of 2012, Brown was the only UFC fighter to go 4-0 in that year. He finished three of those four fights.
Last March, at a media scrum, reporters asked UFC President Dana White if a fight between Tyron Woodley and Carlos Condit would “guarantee” the winner a title shot. White stated, “There’s no guarantees anywhere, ever, in life. They’re going to have to come out and perform. [The welterweight division] is wide open.” The message was clear. The UFC fighters would have to pull off an impressive victory. A boring, grinding decision, much like former UFC contenders Jon Fitch and Jake Shields were often known for, would prove unsatisfactory.
When trying to find fighters in the division who come out and “perform” in the way White suggests, few fit the bill as well as Brown. After enduring a disappointing stretch of one win and four losses in five fights from 2010 to 2011, Brown changed things up and went on an incredible tear. Few in the UFC have managed to match a streak like this. Matt Brown, based on the results he has produced lately, is just as deserving of a shot at the title as anyone else ranked in the top five.
The unfortunate matter for Brown is that welterweight is now such a stacked, top heavy division. Former divisional king Georges St-Pierre vacating the title and going on sabbatical from the sport opened things up at the top. Now more fighters are eager to make their runs and lay claim to the title shot. However, Brown has shown, through his tenacity and his incredible performances, that he deserves his shot against Johny Hendricks. As Brown stated at the UFC Fight Night 40 post-fight press conference: “But let me make it clear: I’m not going to call it a title shot, I’m going to call it a title fight, because I’m not going to take a shot at it; I’m going to take the title when I go fight for it.” Brown’s dismantling of the competition makes a strong case for his title shot claim.
Commentary by Jeffrey Harris