The UFC lightweight division is in a state of confusion. Champion Anthony Pettis is recovering from a knee injury, and hopes to return by July. The #1 contender status a muddle:
•Henderson was insufficiently impressive at UFC on FOX 10;
•T.J. Grant is still out as a recovers from a freak concussion suffered during grappling practice;
•Gilbert Melendez lost a title shot last year and has only a single win since, albeit a thrilling one over Diego Sanchez;
•Donald Cerrone was taken out in under three minutes by Pettis last year;
•Khabib Nurmagomedov does not yet have a win over a top 10 opponent; and,
•Nate Diaz is 1-2 his last three fights, with losses to both Thomson and Henderson.
Thinking outside the box, it looks like the next challenger for Pettis' title will be featherweight champion Jose Aldo. Aldo will relinquish his current title in order to move up to lightweight, but if he loses, can get back into the mix and fight his way back to it.
The plan works for Pettis.
“Of course I want that fight,” said Pettis to USA TODAY Sports and MMAjunkie. “Why wouldn’t I?”
“Who else is there?” Pettis said. “Benson Henderson just beat Thomson, who was supposed to be the top contender. Gilbert Melendez already had his title shot. Why not him?”
With Aldo's move up, top contenders Cub Swanson and Chad Mendes may fight for the title.
“Obviously I wanted to be the one to dethrone Aldo,” Swanson said. “It would have been huge for my career and a feeling of redemption. I do think it makes sense for Aldo to move up because as fighters we always want to challenge ourselves.”
“I can’t say what the UFC will do with our division,” Swanson said. “I just hope I’m fighting someone for the title next.”
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