UFC 150: Top Contenders for Benson Henderson's Lightweight Title

Mike Moraitis@@michaelmoraitisAnalyst IAugust 12, 2012

August 11, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; UFC host Joe Rogan (left) talks with Benson Henderson (right) after he defeated Frankie Edgar (not pictured) during UFC 150 at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

Benson Henderson defeated Frankie Edgar at UFC 150 to retain his lightweight belt, and now that he's beaten the former champ twice, it's time to start looking around for his next fight.

The fight went the distance and was close with Henderson squeaking out a victory by split decision. It was easily one of the more exciting fights this year.

So what's next for the lightweight champ?

Here are some of the top contenders in Henderson's weight class that could give him a run for his money in the Octagon.


Frankie Edgar

With two close fights going to decision, Edgar is clearly a worthy competitor for Henderson, but he won't get another shot this soon.

However, Edgar is still in a special class of fighters in his division, and he has the ability to ascend to the top again.

Look for Edgar to be right back in the title hunt within a year, and as long as Henderson holds on to the belt, look for a third installment of the main event at UFC 150.


Nate Diaz

Diaz is on a hot streak, having won his last three fights all by a pretty convincing margin.

After making quick work of Takanori Gomi by submission in the first round, Diaz moved on to fight Donald Cerrone in a match that went the distance. But it wasn't as close as a decision would dictate, and Diaz picked up the unanimous victory.

His most impressive win came against Jim Miller, as Diaz was the first fighter to stop Miller in his career.

What's more intriguing is that Miller was able to go the distance with Henderson last year while Diaz was able to stop Miller early. From that standpoint alone, Diaz seems like a worthy competitor and most likely will get the first crack at Henderson.


Anthony Pettis

Pettis has already accomplished what no man in the UFC has yet: He beat Henderson. The fight happened in December of 2010 with Pettis grabbing the unanimous decision.

That in itself makes it absolutely necessary that these two square off once again. However, Pettis did have surgery earlier in the year, but he could be ready to go by the end of the summer.

It looks like Pettis might have a match upcoming with Donald Cerrone when he returns, but that's just the type of fight Pettis needs to warm-up for a potential title match sometime down the road.

Regardless, keep an eye on Pettis as he makes the case for a crack at the belt.


Gray Maynard

Maynard had two cracks at the lightweight belt when Edgar was the champ—one result was a draw, the other saw Maynard get stopped in the third round.

But such close contests with the former champ makes it likely that Maynard will be considered for another title shot sometime down the road, if not now.

He recently beat Clay Guida by a split decision and has an impressive 11-1-1 career record with the loss and the draw both coming against a champion.

Maynard has already proven he can hang with the best, and if he was able to go the distance with Edgar, he could very well do the same against Henderson.


Gilbert Melendez

Also considered one of the best lightweights on the planet, Melendez is currently in Strikeforce and doesn't appear to be leaving anytime soon.

So that leaves one option if you want to see Melendez in the Octagon: Kidnap him.

In all seriousness, Melendez and Henderson would be an epic showdown between two undisputed champs, easily making it the fight of the year in many circles.

Melendez has won his last seven fights and it's clear he is the class of his weight division in Strikeforce. With few opponents left to fight, it's time to make Melendez-Henderson a reality.

Wishful thinking, I know.