Lightweight Players

Lightweight Players

–Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and Anthony “Showtime” Pettis are up for a title eliminator on UFC on FOX 6 (January 26, 2013). We last saw Cerrone surviving a tough one minute with Melvin Guillard at UFC 150 (August 11, 2012) before coming back with a glancing head kick and a running punch to KO Guillard. So Cerrone is riding a 2 fight win streak (his other win being over Jeremy Stephens in May 2012) since losing a memorable fight to Nathan Diaz. Pettis, just like Cerrone, bounced back from a loss (to Clay Guida in June 2011) by defeating Jeremy Stephens via decision (October 2011). Pettis next had one of the great finishes of the year, as he headkicked Joe Lauzon to finish him off at UFC 144 (February 26, 2012). There was some debate at the time that Pettis might get a title shot, but Zuffa decided to have Henderson vs Edgar II instead. Cerrone vs Pettis was scheduled to happen at the end of 2012, but due to various ailments that Pettis suffered, it was pushed back. But it’s finally happening, and the winner of this contest may face the winner of Benson Henderson vs Nathan Diaz for the gold.

–Frankie Edgar, who many felt defeated Benson Henderson this past August, has now dropped down to 145 lbs. His last official win at lightweight was against Gray Maynard at UFC 136 in October 2011. He is now scheduled to fight Jose Aldo for the featherweight crown on Super Bowl weekend.

–Strikeforce lightweight titlist Gilbert Melendez fought and defeated Josh Thomson to complete a memorable trilogy in May of this year. It was a close, fight of the year candidate that reminded us that styles make fights. Since then, he was scheduled to fight Pat Healy in September 2012 and January 2013, but injuries forced Melendez out of defending his crown. With Strikeforce folding, we’ll finally see the top lightweight outside the UFC join their ranks. However, if Nathan Diaz is the UFC lightweight champion, Melendez will not fight him. We might see Melendez drop down instead or fight other top contenders in the division. But if Benson Henderson is the champion, a showdown with Gilbert Melendez should definitely take place.

–Eddie Alvarez most recently is waiting to get an offer from the UFC, so a decision will be made to whether he’ll stay with Bellator or move over to the UFC. If he stays with Bellator, a rematch with company champion Michael Chandler is a must. Their first fight was a bona fide “Fight of the Year” candidate. If he goes to the UFC, he has a lot of new interesting challengers. Alvarez’s most recent wins include great KO’s of Shinya Aoki and Patricky “Pitbull” Freire.

–Michael Chandler is the best lightweight that people rarely talk about. Defeating and finishing Eddie Alvarez in November 2011 was a big statement. Since then, he destroyed Akihiro Gono in an easy fight. He is tentatively scheduled to fight Olympic judoka Rick Hawn in the upcoming season of Bellator.

–Gray Maynard failed on two occasions to get the title in memorable clashes with Frankie Edgar. He then faced and defeated Clay Guida (June 2012) in one of the most frustrating fights of 2012. Maynard was scheduled to face Joe Lauzon at the end of 2012, but he had to pull out due to a knee injury. The aforementioned Guida, is now dropping down to 145 lbs to face top featherweight Hatsu Hioki.

–Jim Miller is one of the most liked fighters in MMA. But with recent one sided losses to elite fighters like Nathan Diaz (May 2012) and Benson Henderson (August 2011), it’ll be a while before he gets close to fighting for a title again. Miller did beat Melvin Guillard in January 2012 via rear naked choke after initially being hurt by Guillard. To start building up another win streak, he must defeat Joe Lauzon at the last UFC PPV of 2012.

–Former top contender Melvin Guillard is set to face off with former WEC champion Jamier Varner. Guillard beat Fabricio Camoes in July 2012 before losing to Cerrone the following month. Varner had a huge upset over Edson Barboza in his UFC return, then loss a fight of the year candidate to Joe Lauzon via a triangle choke on UFC on FOX 4.

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