UFC 136 featured two very important lightweight match ups with hearty divisional implications.
First, in the third fight between Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard, we finally arrived at a resolution (for now), with the champion now the unquestioned head of the totem pole. Second, in the fight between Melvin Guillard vs. Joe Lauzon, we witnessed a very unexpected positional flip-flop that will certainly impact the standings in the 155-pound contender picture.
And while the showdown between Anthony Pettis vs. Jeremy Stephens may not have been anywhere near as important as the two aforementioned bouts heading into this weekend, it was still very relevant nonetheless, considering that "Showtime" was the next number one contender at the start of 2011.
Let's take a deeper dive into the many implications this card will have on what is perhaps Ultimate Fighting Championship's (UFC) most talented and stacked division:
The rubber match between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard was a decisive one. No stone was left unturned. This means two things, which are both very important: 1.) Maynard is now further from the title picture and will need to fight his way back in, and 2.) Edgar has earned the right to move on and face a new challenger.
Who could that challenger be?
Things just got very real and very exciting for mixed martial arts (MMA) fans. Especially for fans of the "little guys."
After UFC 136 wrapped, company president Dana White voiced his desire to see current featherweight champion Jose Aldo move up to lightweight to fight Frankie Edgar. This makes a lot of sense, primarily because of Aldo's apparent difficulty making the 145-pound weight limit. He's still young and growing into his frame. There'd be no shame in him seeing what he can do against opponents who are a tad larger.
Very few fans have trouble admitting that Strikeforce is currently surviving on a wing and a prayer. Its heavyweight champion, Alistair Overeem, has made the move to the Octagon and will fight Brock Lesnar at UFC 141 on Dec. 30 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Similarly, its light heavyweight champion, Dan Henderson, has also made the move and will headline UFC 139 against "Shogun" Mauricio Rua on Nov. 19 in San Jose, California.
Recently, White and others have hinted that Strikeforce Lightweight Champion, Gilbert Melendez, will also soon follow suit and join the UFC fold sooner, not later, and be granted an immediate title unification bout. All this despite that fact that "El Nino" is expected to defend his strap against top contender Jorge Masvidal some time soon; however, nothing has been made official either way.
We've got an unidsputed champion in Edgar who needs a challenger. We've got a featherweight champion (Aldo) who has been called one of the "pound-for-pound" greatest in the sport possibly moving up to the 155-pound division. We've got a Strikeforce champion (Melendez) who is ranked first or second in nearly every MMA lightweight ranking system on the planet.
But hold on. That's not all.
On Nov. 12, 2011, Clay Guida will collide with Ben Henderson in another lightweight match up of significant proportions at UFC on Fox 1 in Anaheim, California. If "Smooth" wins, it's likely not as big an issue; however, if "The Carpenter" notches the victory, it would be difficult for the promotion to pass over him on a five-fight tear.
Head spinning, really, when all the options are considered.
So where do you Maniacs weigh in on all this? Who truly deserves the next shot at Edgar's strap? Share your constructive feedback in the comments section below. Make your case for the next lightweight number one contender.
It's really hard to go wrong.