UFC-WEC Merger: Top 5 Lightweights Likely To Drop to Featherweight
This past Thursday, Dana White made a blockbuster announcement: Following December 16th's WEC 53 event, the UFC will adopt its bantamweight and featherweight divisions, as well as merging both lightweight divisions.
This was arguably the biggest news story of the year, and along with it come many questions. One of the biggest questions is whether any of the current UFC lightweight combatants would drop down to featherweight now that the UFC has adopted that division.
Some of the current lightweight fighters have expressed interest in dropping down to 145 pounds in the past, but to do so they would have to move to the WEC, which would result in a big pay-cut as well as a loss of sponsors. Financially, it wasn't the right move.
But now that the door is open I would expect these five guys to make the move down to 145 pounds over the next few years.
5. Jim Miller
Jim Miller is a current UFC lightweight prospect who would benefit greatly from dropping down in weight to 145 pounds because he's significantly shorter than many of the men he has been matched up against. As he works his way up the 155 pound ladder, that height disadvantage could create problems for him.
Miller is an NCAA Division I wrestler out of New Jersey and has competed at both lightweight and featherweight during his career, capturing gold at both weight classes.
The only blemishes on his impressive record are to current UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar and the No. 1 contender for those 10 pounds of gold, Gray Maynard.
During his run in the UFC, he has picked up notable victories over Mac Danzig, Matt Wiman and Gleison Tibau, and is scheduled to face Charles Oliveira in December.
With a loss, it would be likely that Miller would make the drop down to featherweight, but with a victory he could continue his race to the top of the best division in MMA right now.
4. Tyson Griffin
Tyson Griffin entered the UFC four years ago sporting an impressive 7-0 undefeated record, with victories over Duayne Ludwig, Jorge Evangalista and Urijah Faber. He quickly made a name for himself in the UFC by delivering as one of the most exciting competitors in the company.
Since then, Griffin has excited fans worldwide and collected seven bonuses fighting against some of the top 155-pound fighters in the world including Frankie Edgar, Clay Guida, Sean Sherk and Takanori Gomi.
However, 2010 hasn't been the most successful year for Griffin. He hasn't collected a victory this year following tough losses to Evan Dunham and Takanori Gomi.
Griffin is scheduled to face a solid wrestler in Nik Lentz later this month. A loss would be the third straight blemish on his career and likely result in his departure from the MMA giant.
However, with a victory, Griffin could make the move downwards in weight to 145 pounds, where he would feel most comfortable, have a size edge on his opponents and continue to deliver exciting action.
3. Sean Sherk
Sean Sherk is a veteran of MMA, having competed in 39 sanctioned bouts and collected a UFC Lightweight Championship, as well as victories over the likes of Tyson Griffin, Kenny Florian, Nick Diaz and Karo Parisyan, just to name a few.
Sherk is most remembered for testing positive for anabolic steroids following his first successful title defense against Hermes Franca in 2007. Sherk protests his innocence to this day, but the Sherk hate wagon is packed with followers due to that incident.
Sherk is currently 37 years-old and nearing the end of his career, but questions have been raised about him making the cut down to 145 pounds in the past, and he has been open to the idea.
Sean Sherk recently picked up a questionable decision over Evan Dunham and currently has no scheduled bouts on the horizon, so 2011 could mark his featherweight debut.
2. Clay Guida
Clay Guida has captivated a cult-like following during his run in the UFC. Fans love him for his high-energy, exciting, fast-paced action and his incredible hard work.
Guida made his UFC debut with a less-than-spectacular 21-6 record and no real notable victories to his name. He continued to be a mediocre addition to the roster in the beginning. But it turns out losing a split decision to Tyson Griffin was the best thing for his career because it got his foot in the door.
Guida began getting big crowd reactions win, lose or draw, and has since gone on to defeat UFC lightweights such as Mac Danzig, Marcus Aurelio and Nate Diaz, collecting "Fight of the Night" three times.
In interviews, Guida has expressed interest in dropping down to 145 pounds, and with the UFC-WEC merger this gate has completely opened up for him.
Guida is scheduled to face the former No. 1 lightweight in the world, Takanori Gomi, on January 1st, 2011. With a victory, he would be getting closer to a lightweight title shot, but he could choose to drop down to featherweight for 2011.
1. Frankie Edgar
Current UFC Lightweight kingpin Frankie Edgar is a prime candidate to make the drop to featherweight because he is a natural 145-pound combatant.
Frankie Edgar made his UFC debut with a "Fight of the Night" performance against Tyson Griffin back in 2007 and has continued to collect victories over some of the top names at lightweight including Sean Sherk and back-to-back victories over B.J. Penn.
Edgar is currently scheduled to defend his UFC Lightweight Championship against Gray Maynard, the one man to defeat him in his career.
With a victory, Edgar will go on to defend his UFC Lightweight Championship against the winner of the WEC Lightweight Championship bout between Ben Henderson and Anthony Pettis in December.
However, a loss would leave Edgar out of title contention in the 155-pound division for at least a year, so a drop down to featherweight could be in his future.