Yes, we all know it’s true: the days of the eight-man, one-night tournaments are long gone, at least in the UFC. They were great in their own way, but the sport seems to have evolved beyond that, for good or bad.
Winning a tournament has always seemed more about equal measures of luck and endurance rather than a true telling of who the best really is: Steve Jennum won UFC 3 as an alternate, stepping into the final fight.
But still, there is something about a tournament that just seems...fitting for MMA. Maybe it’s all in one night or maybe a string of events that see a winner crowned over a series of cards, but tournaments are really special events; the people at Pride FC knew this well, and they put on some of the best megaevents based on big tournaments the sport has ever seen.
So, in keeping with the idea of tournaments, one begins to wonder who would emerge victorious in the lightweight division, especially if it was a 16-man tournament; that seems fair given how deep the division is.
For the sake of argument, I have written a list that I think would make a dandy of a lightweight tournament. You will notice that the current reigning champion, Benson Henderson, is not included.
He would be sitting this one out, waiting for the time when he, as UFC lightweight champion, could face the winner of the UFC lightweight tournament (which would have its own special belt, of course) and they would fight for the title, which is as it should be.
Also, you will notice the alternates listed first. All of those chosen on the list were based in part due to their records and current standing in addition to their styles and of course past performances that cast some doubt over how they would fare: Clay Guida is one example, based on his last fight with Gray Maynard.
Of course, no list can ever be fully complete: someone is always left off, but still, I think those included would make for one hell of a tournament.