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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Jeff writes: I'm not sure why everyone is against Nate Diaz getting the winner of Edgar-Henderson 2. I know Pettis beat Henderson already but that was a while back. He agreed to fight Clay Guida and lost. Now I know he's won two straight but since when does Joe Lauzon qualify you as the rightful 155 No. 1 contender? Not saying Lauzon is a bad fighter but I think Nate has the better victories at 155. A fight between the two does make sense to determine No. 1 contender status but I believe Nate is right in waiting for his shot. What's your idea?
A: The problem people seem to have with Nate Diaz getting the winner of Edgar-Henderson II is that Diaz has to wait for the fight to even take place. The fact is people are tired of rematches at 155; it's just too good of a division to be managed the way it has been.
In the last two years, only four men have contested the UFC Lightweight Championship: Benson Henderson, Frankie Edgar, Gray Maynard and B.J. Penn.
Frankie Edgar vs. B.J. Penn took up all of 2010, Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard took up all of 2011, and now Frankie Edgar vs. Benson Henderson is poised to take up all of 2012. That's just unacceptable in such a talent rich division. To put things into perspective, from March 2011 to April 2012 we've seen four UFC Light Heavyweight Title fights each feature Jon Jones and a different fighter. Looking at that, it's hard to feel like we're not getting screwed a bit at 155.
Had the Edgar-Henderson rematch never been booked, it would have made perfect sense to do the Pettis-Henderson fight and then set up a Diaz-Edgar number one contender fight.
As far as comparing where Diaz and Pettis stand at 155 right now goes, it isn't really fair to compare the two now that Diaz beat Jim Miller. While Diaz earned his shot last Saturday night, he didn't really deserve a title shot over Anthony Pettis before that. In 2010 Diaz dropped a decision to Gray Maynard at lightweight, and he was coming off two losses at welterweight by the time he dropped back down to beat Takanori Gomi and Donald Cerrone. The Cerrone win was certainly quality, the Gomi win, not so much. So it's really the Jim Miller win in conjunction with other two dominating performances that separates Diaz from the rest of the pack.
But really, I don't see the need to split hairs over who deserves what at 155; to be honest, I think most people are down for any fresh, new combination of talented lightweights competing for the title.
To make sure there are exciting lightweight title contenders in the future, I would avoid booking a Diaz-Pettis fight right now. That kind of fight is exactly what's wrong with granting all of these immediate rematches. We've seen so many marketable contenders at 155 derailed by other marketable contenders just because the title is locked up in some sort of whacky best of seven type series.
While a Diaz-Pettis fight would be exciting and keep both fighters busy, it would really be more trouble than it's worth.
If I were doing the matchmaking at 155 and I was already going ahead with the Henderson-Edgar rematch, I'd let Diaz wait for the winner and do that fight as quickly as possible. In the meantime, I'd give Anthony Pettis the kind of showcase fight the UFC thought Joe Lauzon would be for Melvin Guillard back at UFC 136 in order to keep "Showtime" ready and winning.
Pettis wouldn't have had the hardest road to the title ever, but it would give the rest of the division a chance to breath and put wins together. Really, if Pettis loses before he gets a title shot, the UFC would probably have to hot shot the winner of Gray Maynard-Clay Guida winner back into the title picture after just one victory.
While you could really match up any two lightweights right now and have an exciting fight, now more than ever the UFC needs to make the right fights at the right times in order to prevent the division from becoming stale.
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