As you may have heard, former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar will tussle with current featherweight belt holder Jose Aldo at UFC 153. Edgar replaces Erik Koch, who had to step aside after sustaining an injury that, while sad for him, provided fans with some of the happiest UFC news in quite a while.
After the UFC 151 debacle, a spate of major injuries, bad TV ratings and the like, the UFC probably felt it deserved to indulge itself a bit. Frankie Edgar was the evening of pedicures and brownie sundaes that followed the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
For the record, Edgar is a great fighter. This should be a great fight. But. That doesn't change the fact that Edgar has never actually fought at 145 pounds. Allowing Edgar to cut the line—even if it was an injury situation—isn't fair to those who have been patiently waiting. And winning. Even Edgar himself was surprised.
It also makes sense from a business standpoint. But you know what else makes sense? Letting fighters get their title shots the old-fashioned way. Doing good business and being morally consistent are not mutually exclusive.
So, not to aspirate in the punch bowl, but here are three fighters who could have gotten the nod over Edgar. And yes, probably should have, too.
Ricardo Lamas is 3-0 at 145. He was actually tapped to welcome Edgar to the division before Edgar replaced Koch.
Plus, Lamas upset the guy originally pegged for the title shot: Hatsu Hioki. I realize MMAth isn't perfect, but it's not completely illogical either. Lamas is tough as nails and can score in any phase. He's not as skilled as Aldo, but he won't be outworked.
Dennis Siver is 1-0 as a featherweight and 8-2 in his latest tour with the UFC. He may not be the most deserving, but as far as featherweights go, he is more deserving on paper than Edgar.
Plus, his name recognition is solid among serious fans, and he could probably give Aldo a pretty good fight. Siver's a big featherweight and his kickboxing game would promise an exciting engagement with Aldo. In fact, according to FightMetric, Siver has landed more strikes than all of his last 10 opponents except Ross Pearson. It would probably come down to who could control the distance: Aldo likes to swarm, while Siver prefers a wider radius.
"The Korean Zombie" is a natural born fighter. Not only has he never lost in three fights in the UFC, he's never failed to score a bonus; four bonuses in three contests.
Give him an inch, he takes a mile. That goes for striking, submissions, position battling, partridges and pear trees. For my money, he's the best featherweight on the planet not named Aldo, and should have been treated accordingly.
And yes, I realize he recently had surgery. But it seemed the problem was more chronic than acute. I think they could've planned around it, had they wanted to. Regardless, in an absolute value context if nothing else, the Zombie is the most deserving of the next featherweight title shot.