The crowded murkiness of the UFC’s Lightweight division was one of their biggest problems heading into the new year. With the recent Zuffa merger the two separate divisions that existed in the UFC and WEC were now suddenly one causing a massive logjam throughout and an especially large and uncomfortable clog right at the top. To settle the title question an unofficial tournament was announced wherein Ben Henderson would defend his WEC crown against Anthony Pettis at that promotions final show (he lost) and Frankie Edgar would put the UFC title on the line against the undefeated Gray Maynard with the two winners meeting sometime later in the year.
It all seemed so simple that they had to go with it even if it meant pushing the likes of George Sotiropoulos and Jim Miller further back in the line than they actually deserved. . .then UFC 125 happened, everything went to pot and now UFC matchmaker Joe Silva is forced back to the drawing board thanks to a dramatic 5 round war between Edgar and Maynard that ended in a split decision draw. Fans of chaos everywhere had much reason to rejoice.
The UFC didn’t help matters either as after the event they trotted out vice president Craig Borsari to announce that Maynard’s rematch would regrettably have to wait and that the unification bout between Edgar and Pettis would be signed ASAP. Then, in the middle of the night, Dana White had a change of heart so we all woke up to read that after listening to the voice of the people he had decided that Edgar/Maynard III would actually be next on the docket. Both matches make perfect sense and can be defended with impeccable logic which is why this decision must have been so trying for those at the top.
Assuming that this time they have made up their mind for real I would expect to see the rematch sometime over the summer, possibly July. Where does that leave Anthony Pettis? Well, he will certainly remain Lightweight champion of the now defunct WEC but will he be forced to defend that phantom title and against whom? Last night Clay Guida beat Takanori Gomi and then made a lot of noise about fighting for a title before the end of the year. Could a newly reconstructed tournament with Guida taking the place of Henderson be the logical next step? I suppose, the problem I have with it is Guida’s lack of experience within the WEC. He fought there once, and won, but it was way back in 2006. If you wanted a bit more continuity you could move a top WEC contender into that slot, say a Kamal Shalorus or a Donald Cerrone, but doing that would move them up the ladder in an artificial way.
If I were playing the role of Joe Silva I would probably have Pettis remain on the bench until this Edgar/Maynard issue was resolved. It’s not ideal but obviously this draw was a stroke of very bad luck for the company and the division. You don’t want to waste Pettis on a useless title eliminator match, especially with him coming off of his jaw dropping springboard kick that secured the title for him at WEC 53. Of course if, per chance, Edgar/Maynard III were to also go to a draw then I would be fresh out of ideas as well.
Tags: Anthony Pettis, clay guida, Donald Cerrone, Frankie Edgar, George Sotiropoulos, Gray Maynard, Jim Miller, Mixed Martial Arts, UFC 125, ufc lightweight division