The State of the UFC Lightweight Division

The UFC's lightweight championship has been on ice for nearly a year due to recurring injuries suffered by champ Anthony Pettis, and it could be another year before anyone not named Gilbert Melendez earns a title shot.

But still, the division chugs along. Today, we take a look at the state of the division as a whole, from the title picture all the way down to two prospects who could make loud noise in 2015 and beyond. 

The Title Picture

Anthony Pettis

Yes, Anthony Pettis is still in the UFC lightweight title picture. He is the champion, after all, though nobody would begrudge you for forgetting that nugget of information. Pettis has only competed in the Octagon five times since coming over to the UFC after the closure of World Extreme Cagefighting, and he has yet to defend his title since winning it from Benson Henderson last August.

In fact, he'll be out of action until December, and that's assuming he doesn't injure himself again. But he's the champion until someone comes along and takes the belt away from him. And given his prodigious talent, that might take awhile.

Gilbert Melendez

Melendez, the man many consider to be the rightful UFC champion after his 2013 performance against then-champion Benson Henderson, will get another crack at the belt in December. First, he'll have to join Pettis in Las Vegas and coach 16 strawweights vying for UFC gold in the next season of The Ultimate Fighter.

Benson Henderson

Henderson, the former champion who scraped by with many decisions during his title reign, begins a new chapter in his UFC career by finishing the ultratough Rustam Khabilov earlier this month. Not one to waste time, Henderson has already agreed to a return to the Octagon; he'll face Rafael dos Anjos in August.

On the Verge

Khabib Nurmagomedov

The Dagestani native might be the future of the lightweight division, though we can't quite be sure; he's never faced anyone in the championship picture. He's won 22 consecutive fights, which is impressive in a combat sport, no matter what level of competition he has faced.

It is true that Nurmagomedov's latest opponent—Rafael dos Anjos, whom he defeated in April—was by far the toughest opponent of his career thus far. But he also handled Dos Anjos in much the same way he has everybody else. He's due for a top-ranked opponent whenever he returns to the Octagon.

Josh Thomson

The former Strikeforce champion was scheduled to get a title shot of his own last December, but a knee injury suffered by Pettis forced the cancellation of the bout. Thomson went on to lose to Henderson in January, and then he hemmed and hawed about retirement.

He ultimately decided to stick around, though, and will face the surging Michael Johnson next month. A win would put him right back in title contention, though he likely will not be on the immediate short list of contenders.

A Long Way to Go

Donald Cerrone

Cerrone is always fun to watch, and he makes frequent trips to the Octagon. His popularity with the fans, along with his willingness to fight whenever and wherever the UFC asks him to, will put him near the top of the division on a perennial basis.

The thing is: Can Cerrone finally break through and beat top contenders when he's paired with them? Thus far, he hasn't been able to do that. Losses to Nate Diaz, Pettis and Dos Anjos have derailed his title hopes. Still, Cerrone keeps plugging away, and it's not inconceivable to think that he might be gunning for the belt in 2015.

Rafael dos Anjos

RDA is a big fight or two away from title contention. In August, he'll get the chance to take the first step when he faces Benson Henderson. If Dos Anjos beats Henderson in impressive fashion, he'll be in the mix to face the winner of Pettis vs. Melendez, though he'll likely need at least one more win before he gets there.

The Prospects

Michael Johnson

After a middling post-TUF career, Johnson has strung together three consecutive wins over Joe Lauzon, Gleison Tibau and Melvin Guillard. He takes a major step up in competition when he faces Josh Thomson next month. A win would give Johnson plenty of wind in his sails as he attempts to move from prospect to title contender.

Myles Jury

Jury is perhaps the UFC's best title prospect at 155 pounds. He's undefeated in his career and has met stiffer challenges with aplomb each time he walks to the Octagon. His March win over Diego Sanchez can't be considered his trademark win due to the decline in Sanchez's abilities. Still, one can easily see Jury continuing his march up the ladder to gold.

view original article >>

Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

UFC Veteran Light Heavyweight Ryan Jimmo Reportedly Dead at 34

  • a day ago
  • 66 views

Seven-fight UFC veteran Ryan Jimmo has died due to injuries suffered from a hit-and-run in a nightclub parking lot in the early morning hours of June 26. read news >>

UFC Fight Night 88 Fighter Salaries: Jeremy Stephens Tops the Payroll

  • 28 days ago
  • 64 views

Cody Garbrandt solidified his spot in the UFC bantamweight division by toppling Thomas Almeida at UFC Fight Night 88, but Jeremy Stephens sat atop the payroll. read news >>

The Rebirth of Dominick Cruz

  • 25 days ago
  • 10 views

UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz has been through the wringer. In the past five years, he's suffered four major injuries. After the first round of issues, he spent three years on the shelf. Th read news >>

Two first-round KOs and a division gets more crowded

  • 22 days ago
  • 0 views

The lightweight division’s Top 10 is loaded – this is known. After UFC 199, the UFC’s best division is a bit more crowded thanks to Beneil Dariush and Dustin Poirier. read news >>

Former Lightweight Champ Anthony Pettis Moving to the Featherweight Division

  • 20 days ago
  • 87 views

After losing three consecutive bouts, former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis plans to make the move down to the featherweight division. read news >>

Chael Sonnen Beyond the Fight: Praises for Michael Bisping, and Luke Rockhold Critique

  • 16 days ago
  • 610 views

Chael Sonnen gives Michael Bisping his due props for winning the UFC middleweight title at UFC 199, and gives former champion Luke Rockhold a lecture. read news >>

Ben Reiter Expecting to ‘Impose His Will’ at Bellator 156

  • 14 days ago
  • 7 views

Though he suffered the first loss of his career last November to Francisco France at Bellator 146, middleweight up-and-comer Ben Reiter doesn’t feel he was beaten in the fight. read news >>

Coming Off Long Layoff, Bellator’s John Salter Set to Show He’s Still High-Level

  • 14 days ago
  • 6 views

Having dealt with numerous injuries over the past few years, UFC veteran John Salter is ready to show that he should be in the Bellator title mix. read news >>

UFC Fight Night Ottawa Video: Donald Cerrone – New Division, Same Cowboy

  • 10 days ago
  • 58 views

Catch up with Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone ahead of his welterweight bout against Patrick Cote at Fight Night: MacDonald vs. Thompson in Ottawa on Saturday. read news >>

Defeated TUF 23 Contestant Gets New Life After Cory Hendricks Withdraws Due to Injury

  • 5 days ago
  • 104 views

Team Claudia's Cory Hendricks finally decided to withdraw from his The Ultimate Fighter 23 semi-finals due to a neck injury that didn't get any better. read news >>