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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Though the UFC Lightweight Championship rematch between Ben Henderson and Frankie Edgar had been reported as a possibility for the UFC 150 event in Denver, Colo. this August, it came out over the weekend that the bout may be pushed back to September.
That comes due to Edgar, who is still on the mend from some injuries suffered around the first fight between the two in February. With Nate Diaz defeating Jim Miller on Saturday night at UFC on Fox 3, the delay in the rematch holds up the belt even further, while also leaving Anthony Pettis without a clear opponent for his return in September.
Because it's an injury that's delaying things on Edgar's front, perhaps the UFC should consider going a different route, one suggested by former Sherdog.com writer-turned-professional-gambler Luca Fury, as well as MMATorch Columnist Jason Amadi, on Twitter: give Nate Diaz the title shot now.
Instead of making Diaz sit out for an eight month period due to the title fight getting moved back, book him against a currently healthy Henderson this August. Sure, the UFC promised Edgar a rematch following a close fight, but the immediacy of the rematch was a key factor in it being booked in the first place. The fight was really close, and because there wouldn't be another clear challenger set for a couple of months, giving Edgar the rematch worked.
However, if it's issues on his end causing the delay in that fight, the rematch no longer makes the most sense for the UFC because it does hold things up an unnecessary amount of time. Diaz is on a massive hot streak, and has never looked better in his entire career than he did on Saturday night against Jim Miller.
He's healthy and ready to go; Ben Henderson's healthy and ready to go. You could put that fight on the next Fox card on August 4 in Los Angeles, or keep Henderson on as the headliner in Denver as they initially planned for the Edgar rematch. Either way, that fight works as a reasonable title fight right now.
As for Edgar, if he's not ready to return until September at the earliest, you have a couple of options for him. You can keep him on the sidelines to wait for the winner of Henderson-Diaz to be ready, or you give him a fight with Anthony Pettis, also planning to return in September.
If Edgar sits out and waits for the title shot instead of getting back to action, Pettis is in the same situation he currently is with Diaz sitting out. He'll need to fight once or twice before a title shot comes his way. If he gets the fight with Edgar, he can make a clear case that he deserves the next title shot by notching what would be his second massive career win.
With Edgar on the sidelines right now, it makes more sense to put him in the position they've currently got for Diaz. Have him wait out the title fight while two healthy fighters compete for the belt, or give him that fight with Pettis when they're both ready to return. That's the route the UFC should consider taking, and it would be beneficial to the UFC and the lightweight division as a whole if they choose to do just that.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
STAFF COLUMNISTS: Shawn Ennis - Jason Amadi
Frank Hyden - Rich Hansen
Chris Park - Matt Pelkey
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