UFC Lightweight Championship: Who Is the Top Contender?

Justin FauxCorrespondent IJanuary 3, 2017

The 155 pound division has always been one of the deepest in mixed martial arts and right now is no different.

At the beginning of the year it seemed pretty clear what direction the lightweight division was going—Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard would battle for the prestigious UFC lightweight title with the winner facing WEC's final lightweight champ Anthony Pettis.

As with most things in life, nothing goes according to plan. Fast forward a mere 227 days later and the lightweight title picture is a tangled web of uncertainty.

Last night, the consensus top contender Jim Miller put his seven bout unbeaten streak on the line against former WEC lightweight champ Ben “Smooth” Henderson.

Keyboard warriors and media aficionados considered this to be a tune-up fight for the AMA Fight Club product, but it appears that Henderson didn’t get the memo.

Both men brought the action with a highly competitive opening 10 minutes. On my unofficial score card they tied it with a round a piece heading into the final stanza.

Henderson made sure there were no questions about the winner with his actions in the final-round battering a tired Miller which earned him a 10-8 round on one of the judges’ score cards.

The MMA Lab product is unbeaten since joining the UFC and after dominating the former top contender can make a serious claim to being the top challenger following the Pettis-Maynard rubber match.

However, he is not alone. Both Clay Guida and Melvin Guillard also have the ability to challenge for the throne.

Guida stretched his winning streak to four bouts with the biggest win of his career spoiling the coming out party of the final WEC lightweight champ Anthony Pettis.

Guillard appears to be in the best shape of his career since hooking up with Greg Jackson—collecting five straight victories, three of them by way of stoppage.

“The Young Assassin” wasted no time looking to get back into the octagon following his July stoppage of Shane Roller taking a bout with jiu-jitsu ace Joe Lauzon.

With their impressive credentials and winning streaks, any of them would be fine challengers for the title. It seems we will have to trim the fat to find the real top contender.

Since Guillard has already agreed to a bout with Lauzon it makes sense to match the other contenders up in a title eliminator.

Both combatants have been known to throw caution to the wind and put on thrilling performances inside the cage and this would be the best way to find the true No. 1 contender.