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A Stacked Deck: The UFC Lightweight Division

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by “The Entity” Tim Stroud

UFC Lightweight Division

Frankie Edgar is on top of a stacked UFC Lightweight Division. The one problem is that Edgar & top contender Gray Maynard are recovering from injuries. Their trilogy bout has yet to be announced, while the rest of the division scrambles to be the next challenger.

Anthony “Showtime” Pettis was granted the next shot when he beat Ben Henderson for the WEC Lightweight Title in December of 2010. However, Edgar vs. Maynard 2 went to a draw and Pettis was on the outside looking in. Pettis then drew Clay “The Carpenter” Guida at The Ultimate Finale this past Saturday on Spike. Guida put on a wrestling clinic and stole Pettis’ opportunity at the UFC title shot.

Who is next?

Does Guida deserve the next shot at the belt after beating Pettis? He has made his case by winning 7 of his last 9 fights. Guida is a ball of energy and always puts on a show, but is that enough?

Jim Miller is another fighter that deserves a shot at the belt. Miller has an impressive 20-2 record with his only losses coming to Edgar and Maynard. Miller is preparing for a tough fight with ex-WEC Champion Ben “Smooth” Henderson in August. Miller might find himself with the next shot, but will Henderson get the nod if he takes down Miller?

It would be intriguing to see a number one contender fight with Guida and the winner of Miller/Henderson. The timing could work out perfectly. Miller/Henderson square off in two months and with Edgar/Maynard not scheduled, the number one contender fight could work for later this year or early 2012. But is that the way to go?

There are several other fighters that are deserving of this opportunity. Strikeforce Lightweight Champion, Gilbert Melendez should be in the discussion. Melendez is 19-2 with 5 straight wins in Strikeforce. There are not a lot of worthy foes for him right now, so a move to the UFC could be next. The problem once again is timing. Melendez fought in April, but is he willing to wait for the winner of Edgar/Maynard? He could take another Strikeforce fight first, or just wait for a champion vs. champion match.

But wait, there’s more. Melvin Guillard has won 7 of 8 fights. He dominated a tough Evan Dunham and has another tough test with Shane Roller in July. Would a win over Roller put Guillard at the top?

Dennis Siver has also won 7 of 8 fights after his impressive victory over George Sotiropoulos in February. But Siver lost to Guillard, so does that put him one step behind? Siver will have to defeat Matt Wiman in July to see how he stacks up in this division.

Don’t forget that ex-UFC Lightweight Champion Sean Sherk is still around. And Dunham, Sotiropoulos, Pettis and Donald Cerrone won’t go away easily.

The list of top contenders in the UFC Lightweight Division is a crowded mess. With each passing fight card, a new contender rises and another falls. The great thing is that the UFC and the fans will have years of classic battles in the Lightweight Division.

Tim Stroud is a Kentucky-based writer. Follow him on Twitter @TheEntityMMA

About Matt Lo Cascio

Matt Lo Cascio is the co-founder and editor of Chicago's MMA. He is the former play-by-play announcer for the XFO and other organizations, and he has been published by ESPN.com, DraftKings, The Comeback, FanSided, and more.

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