UFC 125 Results: Top 10 Challengers To Frankie Edgar's Lightweight Title

Sean SmithAnalyst IJanuary 2, 2011

UFC 125 Results: Top 10 Challengers To Frankie Edgar's Lightweight Title

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    Frankie Edgar overcame a first round beating to hang on for a split draw against Gray Maynard. While it wasn't the performance Edgar would have hoped for, the draw did allow him to retain his title.

    Despite the loss, Maynard did show that he could be a serious threat to claim the belt from Edgar.

    Unfortunately for Anthony Pettis, he will have to wait for another shot at the UFC Lightweight Championship.

    Despite the announcement at the UFC 125 Post-Fight Press Conference that WEC Lightweight Champion Pettis would be the next to challenge Edgar, Dana White has stated that he has changed his mind, and there will be a rematch between Edgar and Maynard.

    There are several other rising fighters waiting for their chance to fight Edgar, including Clay Guida, a winner at UFC 125. So who are the top ten threats to Edgar's belt? Let's take a look.

    Since I'm scheduled to write a lightweight rankings piece later tonight, rather than power ranking the lightweight division, this list is going to consist of the ten fighters most likely to claim the lightweight title from Edgar.

10. Edson Barboza

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    We haven't seen Edson Barboza's takedown defense tested yet. That would be the main concern if Frankie Edgar were able to hold onto the belt long enough for Barboza to work his way up the lightweight ladder.

    If Barboza were able to prevent Edgar from taking him down, he has the ability to beat the champion on his feet. Barboza's nasty leg kicks are the perfect offense to combat Edgar's quickness. If Edgar takes a few of those shots to the thigh, he would be in trouble.

    Edgar on bruised legs means telegraphed takedown attempts, not to mention the champion would lose the quickness on his feet that sets him apart from much of the lightweight division.

9. Kamal Shalorus

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    Expect to see a similar theme with these rankings. Frankie Edgar has good wrestling, quick and technical striking, and improving jiu-jitsu.

    Against top competition, Edgar has used his wrestling and jiu-jitsu as defensive mechanisms for the most part, scoring a takedown on occasion to score points.

    The fighter to dethrone Edgar will have excellent takedown defense and powerful, technical striking. While Kamal Shalorus is far from the most technical striker in the lightweight division, he is an outstanding wrestler. In addition, Shalorus does have to power to finish Edgar with one punch.

    Unfortunately for Shalorus, he is most likely a number of fights away from getting a title shot. Also, Shalorus will make his UFC debut against Jim Miller, who will probably be an overwhelming favorite to beat Shalorus.

8. Nate Diaz

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    Nate Diaz is coming off of a loss at welterweight, and he has left the door open for a return to lightweight.

    Diaz has the striking to stand toe-to-toe with Frankie Edgar, and his reach advantage could give the champion problems.

    If Edgar decides to take him down, Diaz has the ability to end a fight off his back. The problem there is that Edgar has never been submitted.

    While it could be an interesting fight, Diaz would have a lot of ground to make up to earn himself a title shot in the deepening pool of lightweight contenders.

7. B.J. Penn

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    Obviously, B.J. Penn is a more skilled fighter than some of the others that will be listed above him in this article.

    However, Penn has already had two failed chances to beat Frankie Edgar, so the UFC might not ever consider putting together an Edgar vs. Penn III. Even if they did, Edgar has already proven that his style causes problems for Penn.

    Also, Penn could be at welterweight for awhile. With his knockout of Matt Hughes, Penn has already been labeled a contender at 170 pounds.

6. Ben Henderson

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    After losing his WEC Lightweight Championship, a lot of people might be quick to count Ben Henderson out as a contender. However, we have yet to see how the top former WEC lightweights stack up against the top UFC lightweights. Until then, Henderson deserves to be in the conversation.

    Additionally, Henderson has a fighting style that could cause Frankie Edgar problems. Henderson has a solid wrestling base with capable striking.

    Oh yeah, Henderson's two guillotine chokes in championship fights should make Edgar think twice about attempting double-leg takedowns.

5. Clay Guida

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    Clay Guida may be the only other fighter in the world who has more energy than Frankie Edgar. Guida's striking is improving, but it isn't anywhere near where it would need to be to defeat Edgar in a stand-up fight.

    Still, Guida has the quickness to match Edgar and the wrestling to be able to take the fight to the ground. Like Diaz, Guida's problem could be getting the chance to fight Edgar.

    Guida is probably still at least two wins away from a title shot, and most of the other top contenders in the division present tough stylistic match-ups.

4. George Sotiropoulos

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    George Sotiropoulos is another rising contender who could have a meeting with Frankie Edgar in his future. Sotiropoulos has excellent grappling and sufficient enough stand-up to be able to become a champion.

    Though, Sotiropoulos' chances against Edgar may rest on his ability to take the fight to the ground.

    Considering the trouble Gray Maynard had with taking Edgar down, Sotiropoulos might not match up with the current champion quite as well as some of the other fighters on this list.

3. Anthony Pettis

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    It is hard to predict how WEC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis will measure up with the lightweights in the UFC.

    If his performances in the WEC are any sign of how Pettis would perform against Frankie Edgar, then Pettis could be about to represent the WEC well by becoming the UFC Lightweight Championship.

    Pettis' unorthodox, powerful striking could be the answer to defeating "The Answer" Edgar. Pettis also showed decent takedown defense against Ben Henderson, something he would certainly need to duplicate in order to beat Edgar.

    According to Dana White, Pettis will have to wait and watch another fight between Edgar and Maynard to determine who he will fight for the merging of the WEC and UFC Lightweight Championships.

2. Jim Miller

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    Yes, Jim Miller does have a loss to Frankie Edgar on his record. However, that was more than four years ago, and the only other fighter Miller has lost to since then was Gray Maynard.

    Miller will need to improve his striking in order to beat Edgar, but the former NCAA Division I wrestler and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt is more than capable of handling the champion in the grappling department.

    Miller has a fight scheduled for UFC 128 against Kamal Shalorus. If he is able to win that fight in impressive fashion, Miller could be one or two fights away from fighting for the title.

1. Gray Maynard

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    If Gray Maynard had not put all his effort into trying to finish Frankie Edgar early on in the fight, this article may have been about the top ten challengers to Maynard's title.

    Edgar has now had two fights in his career that he has failed to win. Both of those have come against Maynard.

    If that doesn't prove that Maynard is the most well-equipped fighter to dethrone Edgar, I don't know what will.

    On top of that, Dana White has announced that Maynard will receive a rematch with Edgar to determine who the better fighter really is.