Only in rare cases would a title loser not make the ladder, but Frankie Edgar is a pretty rare case.
After losing to Ben Henderson for a second time, he was slated to replace featherweight contender Erik Koch against Jose Aldo for the 145-pound belt. But after Aldo also pulled out, that bout was scrapped altogether. Edgar may try the lightweight division again someday, but this lower weight class will provide him a quicker road to a title shot.
Meanwhile, there are more fighters who just missed the ladder than actually on it. I thought long and hard about including Edson Barboza, Jamie Varner, Joe Lauzon, Gray Maynard, T.J. Grant, Gleison Tibau, Matt Wiman, Thiago Tavares, and Clay Guida to name…well, a lot.
Champion: Ben Henderson
He bested Frankie Edgar twice (though some would disagree) and ready to turn his attention towards the rest of 155. As the list above shows, Ben Henderson will have no shortage of fighters looking to take his title. But for now, he has a December tilt with Nate Diaz on the horizon.
Contenders: Nate Diaz, Anthony Pettis, Donald Cerrone
It’s been a long time coming, but a Diaz brother will finally get a crack at a title (interim not included). And it’s not the one we expected at this same time last year. Who knows? Maybe Nate winning the Lightweight Championship could inspire Nick to return to the Octagon.
But should Henderson win we could finally see Henderson-Pettis II, the rematch of that epic WEC finale in late 2010. Keep in mind that Pettis won the first one and was originally the #1 contender for the UFC Lightweight Championship. He’s only 25, too.
Should Pettis need another fight in the mean time, Donald Cerrone would be more than happy to oblige. They traded words in August and something tells me that they still want a piece of one another. Now that’s a fight I’d love to see.
In The Discussion: Jim Miller
May not be the choice that you all were expecting, but keep in mind that he’s 8-2 in his last 10 bouts. His only losses? Ben Henderson and Nate Diaz.
On The Rise: , Khabib Nurmagomedov, Tim Means
“The Eagle” (not trying that last name again) is 2-0 in the UFC, with wins over Gleison Tibau and Kamal Shalorus. He’s also only 24 years of age. Sounds like a fighter on the rise to me.
Likewise, Tim Means is also 2-0 sine joining the organization. A win in December won’t boost his position, but it would re-affirm what we’ve already seen from the American.
Thiago Tavares vs. Dennis Hallman – UFC on FX 5 (October 5)
Paul Sass vs. Matt Wiman – UFC on Fuel TV 5 (September 29)
Ben Henderson vs. Nate Diaz – UFC on Fox 5 (December 8)
Tim Means vs. Abel Trujillo – UFC on Fox 5 (December 8)
Gray Maynard vs. Joe Lauzon – UFC 155 (December 29)