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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
While lightweight contender Gray Maynard is main eventing Monday's Fight Night 20 event on Spike TV against Nate Diaz, a fighter he defeated 21 months ago may be getting a crack at division Champion B.J. Penn first.
According to a couple of tweets from Sports Illustrated's Josh Gross, Frankie Edgar is in line for a bout with Penn at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi. Penn announced on his main site Wednesday that he was likely to fight on that card, though no opponent had been determined.
While Gross makes mention of the fact that Maynard's performance against Diaz on Monday could ultimately be the determining factor in who becomes the next challenger, he does mention that he is being told the plan is Edgar regardless of what happens.
The Abu Dhabi event is set to take place on April 10th, and is also expected to play host to the Middleweight Title bout between Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort.
Penick's Analysis: Considering Maynard did beat him when the two faced off in April of 2008, it would seem a bit unjust if Edgar still gets the shot if Maynard comes out of Fight Night 20 the victor. If Maynard gets beat by Diaz, however, then Edgar would be the next in line after that so there would be no issue with him getting the Title fight in April. While Edgar did pick up a huge win last May in a systematic decision victory over former Champ Sean Sherk, it may be a stretch to consider him much of a challenge to the Champion with the way Penn has looked in the last few years at 155 lbs. Edgar's boxing may allow him more success on the feet than others have accomplished against B.J., but then he'll have to contend with Penn's much more advanced ground game. He's one of a few fighters left for Penn to clear out of the division to solidify his status as the greatest lightweight the UFC has ever seen, so it's a fight that will happen at some point one way or another, but if Maynard gets out of Monday's fight relatively unscathed and able to turnaround for an April bout then he should get that shot first over Edgar.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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