There has been a logjam in the Lightweight Division for quite some time now due to current champion, Frankie Edgar, and current No. 1 contender, Gray Maynard, drawing in their first title fight at UFC 125. Then the re-match was delayed because both Edgar and Maynard suffered injuries that forced them to remove themselves from the fight.
Before that fight at UFC 125 ever happened, Anthony Pettis defeated Ben Henderson for the WEC Lightweight Championship, in the last fight ever before the WEC folded into the UFC. For winning that fight, Anthony Pettis was awarded a title fight versus the UFC Lightweight Champion after Edgar fought Maynard.
Pettis decided to fight and not wait for the re-match to happen, but then lost in his UFC debut. This really opened the door for a number of fighters to jump up to the #1 contender spot.
Here are 5 fighters I believe should be up for consideration to fight for the Lightweight Championship after Edgar and Maynard fight again at UFC 136.
This is my long-shot, but Cerrone is definitely doing everything he can to climb up the ladder in the Lightweight division. He made his octagon debut in February and is already 3-0 in the UFC.
The “Cowboy” recently decided to step in for the injured Sam Stout and will fight another top contender in the division, Dennis Siver at UFC 137. If Cerrone can easily walk through Siver, I would say it’s unlikely for him to get a title fight, but it wouldn’t be out of the question.
To be a little more realistic, I think a win over Siver would put Cerrone one more win away from his first title fight since losing the WEC Lightweight Championship last year. I would love to see him fight the loser of Edgar vs. Maynard to see what he’s really made of.
Dennis Siver has been on a tear the last three years. Before Siver’s first fight in 2009, his career record in the UFC was 1-3. Now, it currently stands at 8-4. Even his only loss in that time was an amazing fight, that he earned Fight of the Night honors for.
Siver’s biggest strength is his ability to win fights so many different ways. In his last seven wins, Siver has won three by decision, two by TKO and two by submission. Both of those knockouts took home Knockout of the Night honors and one of his submission victories won Submission of the Night too.
I think if Siver can get through the rising star, Cerrone, he could earn himself a title shot or at least also be one fight away from his first title shot. The only negative for Siver, is even though he’s defeated everyone in his path the last three years, most of those fights were against lesser quality fighters. With a win over Cerrone, I would also love to see him take on the loser of Edgar vs. Maynard.
I wouldn’t have been able to write this article if Ben Henderson didn’t manhandle Jim Miller a few weeks ago.
Miller was clearly the No. 1 contender in the Lightweight division going into that fight, and would have 100 percent gotten the next title fight if he had beaten Henderson. “Smooth” spoiled those dreams though and now finds himself in legitimate title contention once again.
Henderson has a very impressive 14-2 record for his career. He joined the WEC in 2009 and after only 3 victories, gained the Interim WEC Lightweight Championship. He held that title up until the last fight before the WEC and UFC Lightweight divisions merged together.
Since he lost his belt though, Henderson has been on a mission, easily winning his first two career fights in the octagon. I think he may legitimately have a shot to fight for the title next, but if he doesn’t, he will definitely be fighting in a No. 1 contender fight.
“The Young Assassin” has been putting on extremely impressive fights lately. Since switching to Greg Jackson’s camp after his submission loss to Nate Diaz, Guillard has significantly improved his ground game. He has won his last five fights in the process.
Melvin has knockout power in his hands, and loves to pounce on his opponents with vicious kicks and knees. He has been able to win three of his last four fights by knockout in the first round because of that.
In his next fight versus Joe Lauzon at UFC 136, I expect to see much more of the same from Guillard and predict another first round TKO.
With that win, Guillard will have won nine of his last ten fights, including first round knockouts of both Dennis Siver and Evan Dunham. He would have to be fighting either for the championship or in a No. 1 contender fight next.
Clay Guida is the person I think has the best shot at getting the next title fight.
He is currently on a four-fight win streak and has fought some of the better fighters in the division. In this streak he defeated Rafael Dos Anjos, won all of his last five fights except for the one versus Guida, and Takanori Gomi.
In his last fight, Guida defeated rising star Anthony Pettis. As I stated before, Pettis was coming into the UFC as the reigning WEC Lightweight Champion and was scheduled to fight the UFC Lightweight Champion to unify the belts. When Edgar and Maynard fought to a draw and had to have a re-match, Pettis took a fight with Guida because he didn’t want to sit around and wait.
For this reason, I think it is very likely Guida gets the next title shot.
I don’t necessarily believe he will be the biggest threat to either champion and I think either Edgar or Maynard would defeat Guida. But I think he’s definitely paid his dues and earned his first UFC title fight. After watching Guida put on numerous Fight of the Night and even two Fight of the Year fights, you know a title fight with Clay Guida in it would not disappoint.