The game plan was to "cut Matt loose" around the third or fourth round.
Scott Sheeley, head trainer to UFC welterweight Matt Brown, thought the best time to attack Robbie Lawler on July 26 in San Jose would be late. Give Brown (19-12) enough time and he'll break anyone, Sheeley thought -- plus Lawler tends to fade.
The game plan hit a snag, though, when Brown injured his right hand during the UFC No. 1 contender bout against Lawler (24-10). Brown continued to throw punches despite the injury, but ultimately lost the bout via unanimous decision.
Brown, 33, is scheduled to undergo X-rays on his hand and nasal area today in Columbus, according to Sheeley. He received facial stitches on the night of the fight.
Looking back on the loss, Sheeley says it was Lawler's night and there were plenty of areas Brown could have improved -- but it would have been nice to see what the late rounds would have looked like without the hand injury.
"Matt's strength is cardio and breaking guys down," Sheeley told ESPN.com. "It was hard losing the right hand. That's one of our major weapons against the southpaw.
"I'm not going to disrespect Robbie, though. I knew he had won the fight. Maybe we should have pulled the trigger a little sooner. In that fifth round, you saw Matt was coming forward, trying to break him. Maybe we should have done that sooner.
"It's a learning experience. We make adjustments from this and we move forward."
The California State Athletic Commission medically suspended Brown for up to six months, pending medical clearance on a possible broken nose. Sheeley said Brown was treated for a deep laceration on his nose, but didn't think it was broken.
Regardless of the medical update Brown receives Monday, Sheeley said he'd like to see him take a small break following last week's five-rounder. There was an issue with a knuckle on Brown's right hand going into the fight, which Sheeley would like to see heal.
Immediately after the Lawler fight, UFC president Dana White stated he felt Brown's stock actually went up despite the loss. Sheeley agreed and said he's hopeful Brown will remain highly ranked in the division, which took a long time to achieve.
"He belongs there," Sheeley said. "Hopefully everybody sees that now. That fight and what he's done in past fights -- he's always the underdog. After this fight, I hope he's not much of an underdog anymore.
"He has the ability to beat Robbie. I think he was getting the better of Robbie in the clinch. On the outside, he was a little slow getting off. I thought his wrestling was OK. I think if we got his boxing going a little better, we squeeze that one out."
Sheeley, who is based out of Ohio same as Brown, had no thoughts on whom Brown should fight next. Whoever puts him back into a position similar to the one he was in last week would be fine.
"I think even with the loss he belongs in the top five," Sheeley said. "Matt, he'll step up and fight anybody so it's really whoever the UFC wants him to fight.
"There’s really not a beef or anything with anybody and Matt. Honestly, whoever we need to fight to get us back to the belt the quickest is what we want."