It’s the deepest class in the world, so much so that the top of the 155-pound division could be turned on its ear by this time next year. UFC champion Frank Edgar escaped with his title after fighting to a draw against Gray Maynard at UFC 125. Edgar’s a fantastic fighter, but people doubt him because of his size and lack of finishing prowess. With challengers coming at him from all directions, will Edgar still be the No. 1 lightweight in the world in Apr. of 2012?
Maynard, Anthony Pettis, Gilbert Melendez and Jim Miller are probably all two wins away from being the undisputed top dog in the division. With a hot 2011, Sean Sherk, Shinya Aoki, Melvin Guillard, Clay Guida, George Sotiropoulos and Evan Dunham could all force their way into the picture as well. Additional wild cards include Ben Henderson and Eddie Alvarez, if he can escape Bellator. Now that’s depth.
Melendez certainly did his part last weekend against Tatsuya Kawajiri. He wasn’t going to let judges screw up his first fight in front of Zuffa management. The Strikeforce lightweight champ made sure of that by unleashing a fury of elbows, knees and punches at Kawajiri.
Melendez is knocking at the UFC door for a fight against Edgar, Pettis, Maynard and the rest of the elite crew in the larger fight promotion.
Melendez says his camp might be the best in the world. Looking at his competition with the "Skrap Pack," it’s hard to disagree.
"It’s discouraging in camp training with Nick [Diaz], Jake [Shields] and Nate [Diaz]," Melendez told HDNet’s Inside MMA. "You question yourself, ‘am I ready for this fight?’ You know, you have these terrible days. I’m getting smashed by these guys sometimes. And then you doubt yourself. And then you walk in there and you dominate, and then you realize that’s how fantastic your team is. We’re evolving and we always constantly raise the bar against each other."
Yahoo!’s lead MMA writer Kevin Iole joined us to debate the future odds on an Edgar-Melendez fight and how he’d matchup against some of the other elite lightweights.
Here’s my top 10 in Apr. of 2012:
1. Gilbert Melendez
2. Frank Edgar
3. Eddie Alvarez
4. Jim Miller
5. Anthony Pettis
6. Melvin Guillard
7. Gray Maynard
8. George Sotiropoulos
9. Ben Henderson
10. Evan Dunham