7 Fighters Who Could Be Next Two-Division UFC Champ

Dan HiergesellFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2014

7 Fighters Who Could Be Next Two-Division UFC Champ

0 of 7

    David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

    Hundreds of fighters have strapped on the leather and stepped inside the Octagon, but only two men have won titles in multiple weight classes.

    That's why former champions Randy Couture and BJ Penn are not only UFC legends, but mixed martial arts trailblazers.

    However, as prolific and memorable as their respective runs were, they will not be the last men to ever accomplish this staggering feat.

    As of today, MMA's evolution has developed a key pool of athletes capable of stringing together perennial success.

    Do these athletes have what it takes to capture divisional titles at two separate levels?

    Here are seven fighters who could eventually keep Couture and Penn company in one of the most illustrious clubs around. 

Demetrious Johnson

1 of 7

    USA TODAY Sports

    As good as Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson is at flyweight, he's almost just as good at bantamweight.

    His skill set is built for the smaller weight class, but with his speed and elevated striking pedigree, he has what it takes to destruct any opponent close to his size.

    What's going to help Johnson further down the line, as far as capturing a title at 135 pounds is concerned, is if current titleholder TJ Dillashaw remains the division's king.

    It's difficult to be sure of that, though. The new champ is scheduled to defend his belt in a rematch with Brazilian sensation Renan Barao in August. However, if he can maintain his excellence, a superfight with Johnson could be in the making.

    If that happens, Johnson's size and power won't be diminished as much against Dillashaw as it would be opposite a bigger bantamweight.

    It's probably the most readily available option for Johnson to capture his second UFC title. 

Anthony Pettis

2 of 7

    USA TODAY Sports

    As one of the most offensively charged fighters in the world today, not to mention his knack for avoiding damage, UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis is one dangerous dude.

    He's the type of fighter capable of staying undefeated for years on end, assuming he can finally stay healthy and defend his belt on cue.

    In any case, Pettis is on the brink of something special. With one of the very best athletic pallets in the sport, he would have no trouble dropping down to featherweight and testing his skills on a different level.

    Divisional kingpin Jose Aldo would be the first man in his cross hairs.

    Pettis would more than likely have the edge on paper because of his reach and overall defensive capabilities, but you can never doubt the leg kicks of Aldo. 

Jose Aldo

3 of 7

    USA TODAY Sports

    Speaking of Jose Aldo, he may be the closest fighter on this list to actually challenging this historic feat.

    The young featherweight is presumably only a few fights away, if not one, from finally making his move up to 155 pounds.

    As a pound-for-pound specialist who hasn't lost since 2005, Aldo wouldn't have to do much of anything in order to be granted an instant shot at the lightweight title.

    Whether that title is draped around the waist of Anthony Pettis or Gilbert Melendez has yet to be determined.

    Aldo will obviously drop some size and power with a move up in weight, but with his speed and blistering technique, the 27-year-old would give any lightweight on the planet a run for his money. 

Chris Weidman

4 of 7

    John Locher/Associated Press

    Whatever Chris Weidman is doing, it's working.

    Now the owner of title defenses over Brazilian greats Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida, the UFC middleweight champ doesn't have much more to prove.

    His natural strength is obvious, his budding skill set is prevalent and his knack for winning has been unflappable.

    That said, Weidman would have to journey to the center of one of the most top-heavy divisions to capture his second UFC title.

    If that division is still run by pound-for-pound great Jon "Bones" Jones, Weidman may want to stay right where he is.

    Only time will tell if Weidman is really that good to make a run at light heavyweight gold, but until he fends off the countless divisional contenders nipping at his heels, the point is moot. 

Georges St-Pierre

5 of 7

    USA TODAY Sports

    If Georges St-Pierre comes back (or should I say when?), would anybody be surprised if he reclaimed his spot atop the welterweight realm?

    That's what I thought.

    So why would it be impossible for GSP to take a monumental return to the Octagon and fuel a highly anticipated move up to middleweight?

    For what it's worth, St-Pierre would encounter immediate trouble opposite a strong and imposing wrestler like Chris Weidman, so he'd probably be better off taking on a different middleweight champion.

    The only problem is that Weidman looks poised to remain champion for a fairly long time, so the Canadian may have to bite his mouthpiece and sling some spinning back kicks.

    At the end of the day, let's just hope one of the best fighters of all time decides to grace us with his presence one last time. 

Benson Henderson

6 of 7

    USA TODAY Sports

    Former lightweight titleholder Benson Henderson may be the obvious last choice on this list to pull off the impossible, but people tend to forget how dominant he truly was as champion.

    Sure, he battled Frankie Edgar and Gilbert Melendez tooth and nail en route to capturing razor-thin decisions, but he was really good at what he did.

    What's more, he still is.

    With that being said, his future within the lightweight division remains uncertain. He has now lost to champion Anthony Pettis on two separate occasions, so it would make sense for him to make a move to 170 pounds.

    Henderson certainly has the natural build for it even if his reach takes a hit.

    As a guy in the prime of his career, he should take advantage of his opportunities and start fresh. 

Jon Jones

7 of 7

    USA TODAY Sports

    Jon Jones should already be considered among the top fighters in MMA history.

    At 26 years old, having rarely taken damage throughout his career, Jones' journey is shockingly just getting started.

    In order for him to transform himself from the greatest in the world today to the best of all time, he'll not only have to defend his light heavyweight throne a few more times, but he'll most likely have to win a title at heavyweight.

    As an athletic specimen capable of making a move up in weight class, there's really nothing in Jones' way that should prevent him from making such a career change.

    However, that doesn't mean he'll have what it takes to defeat the likes of Cain Velasquez.

    Nevertheless, if there was one fighter in the sport today who would surprise you the least by becoming a two-division champion, it would be this man.

     

    For more UFC news and coverage,