MMA's Lightweight Division Is Stacked: It's Time to Break It Down for the Future

Jake SauickieCorrespondent IApril 10, 2011

HOLLYWOOD - MARCH 17:  Strikeforce World Lightweight Champion Gilbert 'El Nino' Melendez  (L) and Dream 155-Pound Champion Shinya 'Tobikan Judan' Aoki (R) attend the CBS' Strikeforce MMA Fighters Open Media Workout on March 17, 2010 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images)
Valerie Macon/Getty Images

In mixed martial arts, it seems the weight class with the most talent now is the lightweight division.

From the fight promotions in Japan, Bellator and both Zuffa-owned promotions, Strikeforce and UFC, it looks like there is an endless list of talent.

From Japan, we have the likes of Shinya Aoki, Takanori Gomi and Tatsuya Kawajiri.

Bellator has Eddie Alvarez, who has looked unbeatable in his last few fights.

In Strikeforce, there's Gilbert Melendez, Josh Thomson and Gesias Cavalcante.

Finally, we have the UFC, which had a long list of fighters to begin with, but now the list is even longer due to their merger with the WEC.

The UFC has Frankie Edgar, Gray Maynard, Anthony Pettis, Clay Guida, B.J. Penn, Ben Henderson and many more.

With all of this talent out there, here's how I think the division needs to be broken down because it is becoming overcrowded at the moment.

While the UFC and Strikeforce are under the same promotion brand of Zuffa, they aren't merging for two years due to Strikeforce's contractual obligations with Showtime. So there won't be any title unification fights anytime soon.

Japan has a lot of good fighters in Aoki, Gomi and Kawajiri, but they are being thrown to the wolves against the likes of Melendez, Alvarez and what the UFC has to offer. So they are no threat.

My suggestion is that Gilbert Melendez should face off with Eddie Alvarez and unify their belts.

As for the UFC, the winner of Edgar vs. Maynard 3 fights the winner of Pettis vs. Guida.

The winner of that fight must then face the winner of Alvarez vs. Melendez.

Once that happens, we will then know who the best lightweight MMA fighter is in the world.

My prediction is that this will all be done by spring of 2013 and the top dog will either be Eddie Alvarez or B.J. Penn.