Winner of Gray Maynard vs. T.J. Grant at UFC 160 Gets Next Title Shot
Benson Henderson held onto his UFC lightweight title by the narrowest of margins at UFC on Fox 7 with a split-decision win over Gilbert Melendez.
The champion won't get much time to relax and enjoy his belt, however, because his next challenger will be crowned in about a month from now.
At the close of the UFC on Fox 7 post-fight press conference, UFC President Dana White announced that the next No. 1 contender will be crowned at UFC 160 in a lightweight battle between two top-10 competitors.
"Gray Maynard's ranked No. 3, T.J. Grant is ranked No. 7, these guys are going to fight at UFC 160, May 25," White said. "The winner of that fight will fight Ben Henderson next."
For Maynard this will potentially be his third shot at the UFC gold should he get past Grant next month. The former Ultimate Fighter competitor twice took on former champion Frankie Edgar, but didn't walk out with the title on either occasion.
Maynard fought to a draw with Edgar the first time, and lost by TKO in the rematch later that same year. Now after winning a battle with Clay Guida last June, Maynard will return at UFC 160 with hopes of getting another shot at title glory.
Meanwhile, in what has to be the dark-horse story of 2013, Grant could earn a title shot after only his fifth fight at 155 pounds. Competing most of his life at welterweight, Grant finally dropped to lightweight in 2011 and has turned into a completely dominant fighter ever since.
Grant has dispatched of all five opponents he's faced in the division, including his blistering performance over Matt Wiman at UFC on Fox 6 in January.
Now the soft-spoken Canadian grappler will look to earn his spot atop the UFC lightweight division if he can get past a perennial contender in Maynard come May 25.
The two lightweights will battle it out, with the winner then moving on to face Henderson later this year with the title on the line. Like many situations in the past with No. 1 contender bouts, nothing is 100 percent until the contracts are signed, so it's likely either Maynard or Grant will have to win and do so impressively to secure the spot in the title fight.
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, and all quotes were obtained first hand unless otherwise noted.
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