During last night's announcement that Frankie Edgar is officially moving down to the featherweight division, the former lightweight champion told us that he wants to fight before the end of the year.
I think Frankie would have to fight somebody at 145 (before getting a shot at the title). We've got all these backed up titles right now. I don't want that backed up, and if I know Frankie, he's going to want to get in there right away.
In need of a victory against a high level opponent, there is no better competition than former contender Chad Mendes.
Mendes is a legitimate threat within the division, and he holds wins over two members of the divisional top 10 in Cub Swanson and current No. 1 contender Erik Koch. The only blemish on his 12-1 record is a failed attempt at dethroning Aldo.
In his last appearance, the Team Alpha Male fighter disposed of Cody McKenzie only 31 seconds into their UFC 148 battle.
Edgar had trouble with Gray Maynard, who, like Mendes, is an elite wrestler with heavy hands. Not only would this bout serve as a title eliminator, but it is a toss up that fans will debate until the bell sounds.
While some may argue that the Korean Zombie might be a better opponent, we've got to consider the role of marketability in determining the participants of a title eliminator.
At this moment, Chan Sung Jung is the most marketable challenger to the featherweight championship based on his series of highlight-reel performances. In fact, Kevin Iole from Yahoo Sports recently named Jung as the most exciting fighter in the UFC.
Assuming that Jose Aldo gets past Erik Koch in October, the Korean Zombie should cash in on his title shot and could compete as early as January. Why risk his marketability by throwing him into a bout with Edgar when fans are ready to watch him fight for the title now?
Mendes, on the other hand, is still a fight or three away from getting another crack at the belt. With all due respect to Cody McKenzie, a win over the "AK Kid" doesn't exactly scream title shot.
If "Money" can somehow defeat a former world champion like Edgar, he will have earned another attempt at wrapping gold around his waist.
Likewise, Edgar coming out victorious gives him a win over the No. 2 featherweight in the world. At that point, there would be no denying that his next bout should be for a championship.
Edgar vs Mendes is the way to go, and hopefully, we will see them square off at UFC on Fox 5.