LIGHTWEIGHT (146 lbs. – 155 lbs.)
- Frankie Edgar (12-1 / UFC Lightweight Champion)
- B.J. Penn (15-6-1 / UFC)
- Gilbert Melendez (18-2 / Strikeforce Lightweight Champion)
- Gray Maynard (9-0, 1 NC / UFC)
- Kenny Florian (13-4 / UFC)
- Benson Henderson (12-1 / WEC Lightweight Champion)
- George Sotiropoulos (14-2 / UFC)
- Sean Sherk (33-4-1 / UFC)
- Eddie Alvarez (20-1 / Bellator Lightweight Champion
- Josh Thomson (17-3 / Strikeforce)
Frankie Edgar and BJ Penn will rematch on August 28th, wrapping up an intriguing summer for title fights. In their first fight, Penn seemed overwhelmed and unable to handle Edgar’s frantic movement and stick and run punches, save for counter-punches that couldn’t put Edgar away. Has Frankie truly eclipsed Penn, or was BJ – who was sporting a wrap on his knee and did seem to move a bit gingerly in the third round – fighting through an injury?
On that same card, Kenny Florian and Gray Maynard will face off in a battle to determine the #1 contender to the UFC Lightweight Title. Maynard’s been dominant with his wrestling, but does he have enough to overwhelm Florian? The answer, and the reason why he didn’t get the title shot against BJ Penn: probably not. He has a win over Edgar, but with the exception of Nate Diaz (overrated in two weight classes), he’s been matched up against strikers with huge holes in their takedown defense and ground game.
Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez’s next logical fight is against Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez, an intriguing fight that neither promotion seems in a rush to produce. More likely he’ll rematch #10 on my list, Josh Thomson.
Still underrated: WEC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson. Sure, it’s the “minor leagues” so to speak, but Benson is one of those rare fighters who doesn’t have a game he sticks to, he shapes his game specifically around his opponents. I think he’d fare a lot better in the UFC than people think.
George Sotiropoulos proved himself a future contender in a fantastic performance against a criminally underrated Kurt Pellegrino. Realistically, he’s one win away from being in consideration for a title shot. If I’m Joe Silva, I’m waiting for August 29th to set him up in a fight with the loser of Maynard/Florian.