UFC 162: How Important Is It to the Featherweight Division?
Four of the UFC's top 145ers will duke it out Saturday night, as former lightweight champ Frankie Edgar takes on submission whiz Charles Oliveira and red-hot WEC vet Cub Swanson takes on striking specialist Dennis Siver.
While this weekend's fights could very well determine the next featherweight title challenger down the road, don't expect any of the victors to get an immediate shot at the belt.
Sure, on paper, these matchups are poised to be exciting scraps and will likely entertain the UFC 162 crowd, but they just don't make much sense when it comes to the 145-pound title picture.
For instance, Swanson, who's ranked No. 5 at featherweight, really has nothing to gain from his bout with Siver, who's listed as No. 6 in the UFC's rankings.
Swanson, a Greg Jackson product, has amassed an impressive four-fight win streak and deserves a shot at a top-five featherweight, especially when you consider that his only losses since 2009 are to Jose Aldo, Chad Mendes and Ricardo Lamas—the top three guys in the division right now.
Should Swanson beat Siver, he'll pretty much keep his spot in the middle of the pack, while a loss will probably send him straight to the back of the line.
If anything, in the wake of Chan Sung-Jung dropping out of his bout with Lamas to replace Anthony Pettis at UFC 163, Swanson should have been given a chance to avenge his loss against "The Bully."
Instead, Lamas is off the UFC 162 card and Swanson is stuck facing an opponent who's lower on the totem pole.
Meanwhile for Edgar, this weekend's scrap with Oliveira is pretty much a give-me fight for the former champ.
"The Answer" may be itching for a win after coming up short in three straight title fights, but a bout with "Do Bronx" doesn't get him any closer to another shot at a belt.
Like Swanson, a win for Edgar is pretty much just another notch on his belt. However, in the former champ's case, a fourth straight loss could be disastrous—although it's highly unlikely to occur.
If Edgar does somehow fall to the Brazilian, his back will definitely be against a wall as a fifth straight defeat usual results in a pink-slip, regardless of a fighter's past credentials.
Now, that's just a doomsday scenario for Edgar, but still, taking on Oliveira doesn't do much for "The Answer" except add another check to his bank account.
What would have been a smart decision by the UFC's matchmakers would have been to pit Edgar against Siver and Swanson against Lamas (sorry Oliveira).
The German hasn't done much to stand out at 145 yet and a battle against a guy like Edgar would have been a great test for Siver. It would have also have been a good bout for the former champ as he would have been taking on a top-10 featherweight instead of someone who's not even on the UFC's rankings yet.
Swanson and Lamas would have been a fantastic matchup as well and could have easily been billed as a top contender elimination bout.
Instead, the UFC is stuck with a logjam of contenders—especially if you throw Pettis into the mix—and it will likely stay that way unless one of this weekend's underdogs pulls out an upset.
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