The 'Answer' in 2012 for current UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar was 'weather the storm'. In both his title defenses at UFC 125 and UFC 136 against rival Gray Maynard, a first round almost ended it all.
Edgar, wrestled his way back at UFC125 after losing the first round 10-8 or even 10-7 in some fans eyes. At UFC 136 in the highly anticipated rematch between the two-it followed the script. Maynard smashed Edgar with crisp boxing but once again couldn't finish the deal and in the fourth was a highlight reel notch on the New Jersey native's belt.
UFC 144: 'Japan' features former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) lightweight champion Ben Henderson vs. Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight champion Frankie Edgar. It's a true battle of the WEC's and UFC's lightweights on the ultimate proving ground.
Follow after the jump and see my five most poignant questions in 2012 for the lightweights
Regardless of what Melvin Guillard thinks of his future UFC on FX 1 main event fight with Jim Miller it will not be a number one contender fight.
Two of the divisions toughest fighters will look to claw back up that treacherous the stacked lightweight division. Both suffered devastating losses in the pursuit of gold. Jim Miller was beaten by current number one contender Ben Henderson after giving it his all but the size and wrestling of 'Bendo' was proven too much. Melvin Guillard was pretty cocky heading into his bout with Joe Lauzon and got blasted much like Jens Pulver did in his bout with 'J-Lau'. Not only was Guillard blasted but was also chocked out - ouch.
These two will now do battle against one another and it should be a doozie. Miller is the better grappler and is fairly well-rounded in comparison to Guillard. Guillard has powerful hands and pretty damn good takedown defence but his biggest issue is his mental. He comes into important fights driven by his cockiness or by being too emotional like in his bouts with rival Rich Clementi.
Who gets a W to start 2012?
4. Is Michael Chandler the 'real deal' ?
Bellator Fighting Championships (BFC) was treated to a classic war on the same level of Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio Rua. Former Bellator lightweight champion and top ten lightweight in the world was beaten by undefeated wrestler Michael Chandler.
Alvarez was even argued as the best lightweight in the world by some for his crisp boxing, power and dominant wrestling.
The Philly native got a wake up call when he was choked out in the fourth but he too left some reminders on the face of Chandler but he couldn't outlast the rising star. The question is, Can Chandler become the star he could actually be or will he fall in a possible rematch with Eddie Alvarez.
3. Will Nate Diaz win the title in 2012?
The 209's favorite little brother will be getting a lot of title talk after beating Donald Cerrone and setting a compustrike record by landing over 80% of his strikes.
Nate Diaz dropped from 170 pounds back to his regular weight of 155 pounds and put up two brilliant wins. At UFC 135 he smashed Takanori Gomi with a picture perfect display of his striking and submission game. At UFC 141 he outboxed a somewhat tentative Donald Cerrone.
With Melvin Guillard vs. Jim Miller and Anthony Pettis vs. Joe Lauzonset in stone it appears that after Ben Henderson that Nate maybe the best option for a future number one contender. Clay Guida lost a big chance against Ben Henderson and he holds a win over Nate Diaz. Gray Maynard couldn't overcome Frankie Edgar and as long as Edgar is champion, don't expect a fourth tilt. That and we don't know where in the world Sean Sherk is.
An intriguing match up may be a fight with Kenny Florian who is expected to return to lightweight. The fight may not occur though as it would jeopardize a fresh contender and implement notorious choker Kenny Florian right back in the picture.
Will Nate jump the herd?
2. Will Gilbert Melendez make the jump?
Ask yourself this, "What is left for Melendez in Strikeforce?"
He is 20-2 and hasn't lost since 2008 to a very game Josh Thomson which was his only loss under the Strikeforce banner. He has won on the big stage which included a classic against Tatsuya Kawajiri at Pride Shockwave 2006. He has been a stud and with the last remaining viable threat at lightweight being Caros Fedor it may be a damn good time to get him over to the UFC.
With Frankie Edgar and Ben Henderson settling their differences at UFC 144 there's still a long time for a possible 2012 showdown.
Is this the year?
1. Will Frankie Edgar survive 2012 as champion
Frankie Edgar had to withstand two brutal rounds in 2011 at the unlikely hands of Gray Maynard. It what was suppose to be his stronghold of boxing, it was Maynard who laid powerful shots on him.
Edgar survived round one of UFC 125 and UFC 136 he rose like a phoenix and blasted his most impressive stoppage in quite sometime. In 2012 he starts off the year with a former WEC lightweight champion who is very well rounded. Ben Henderson has been a force since getting 'showtime kicked' and has started a bandwagon around MMAmania.
With possible showdowns should he survive UFC 144 with Nate Diaz and Gilbert Melendez it appears his 2012 will need him to find the 'Answer'.