I was reading MMAJUNKIE, and I gotta say it is likely my favorite MMA website at the moment. But I was a little confused about their recent poll as to the contenders in the UFC’s lightweight division. What were the parameters here? They named Clay Guida, Melvin Guillard and Ben Henderson as the next group of top contenders.
Ok, let me explain a bit. Gray Maynard and Frankie Edgar square off for the UFC title October 8th at the UFC 136 event, so the question was, who deserves the shot at the winner.
All three are good fights, probably better than Maynard-Edgar, since we have already seen those two stalemate twice. Of the three mentioned in the article, my preference is Guillard. Melvin has come a long way, to the point where they are going to have to change his nickname from ‘Young Assassin’ to the ‘Old Assassin’. Just kidding, as he has been on a big roll and he has been very explosive.
But I can think of a few other fights I’d rather see, and what it would take is for the UFC and the media folks who do polls is to admit there is talent beyond the UFC.
My first choice is Bellator’s Eddie Alvarez. Especially against Edgar, should Edgar win, since they are both from the same area of New Jersey/Philadelphia, it would be a big draw fight with a lot of heat. The UFC really needs to swipe him out of the Bellator B league, and they need to stop hardballing the kid with contract issues. Randy Couture got a unique contract from UFC, and I’m not saying Alvarez needs to be treated like a legend, but they should recognize the kid is still full of potential and upside, and exceptions to rules can always be made.
STRIKEFORCE champ Gilbert Melendez would make a great fight with either Maynard or Edgar. The UFC already swept up his teammate Nick Diaz, so it is unclear to me why Melendez wouldn’t have rated higher in the poll.
My third choice would be Shinya Aoki. Stylistically, when he is on, Aoki is the most different and unique of the 155 lbers, and we all know styles make fights. I feel like both Maynard and Edgar are in a rut in the way they fight, to the point where the ‘boring’ word is gonna start coming up. Aoki would give them a different look.
So this isn’t a knock on Clay Guida, or Ben Henderson or Melvin Guillard, but it is a reminder that the lightweight division is rich in talent and that there are elite fighters in the weight class currently outside the UFC.