Number One Contender: Frank Edgar
Other Contenders: By resume the next contender is Gray Maynard, but his problem is he cannot finish fights. He will either take another fight or wait on a title shot. He will most likely be involved in the next number one contender bout and he needs to look good in it. I guess the next in line could be the winner of the Takanori Gomi vs. Kenny Florian fight. Perhaps the winner of that fight will face Maynard for the number one contender spot. Both guys have fought and lost to Penn so they need to earn a re-match. I think right now the only other guys seriously in the conversation are Tyson Griffin and Joe Stevenson. Both guys have looekd impressive lately. Stevenson will face George Sotiropolius is UFC 110 and Griffin will face Evan Dunham at UFC 115 in June. There are a few guys who could be instant contender should they sign with the UFC, but I do not know of any guy on the horizon. The only other guy on the UFC roster currently I can even think of as a contender-ish type guy is Jim Miller who looked great in his last outing. Mark Bocek is next for Miller in March. Of course the Shinya Aok vs. B.J. Penn fight is the fight most people want to see, but he doesn’t appear interested in the UFC. Strikeforce champ Gilbert Melendez has a chance of coming over eventually and I’d like to see him fight Penn, but right now he is locked in with Strikeforce.
Other Guys To Watch: I think one of the guys to watch is Evan Dunham. He looked great against Efrain Escudero and will have a great opportunity against Tyson Griffin in June. He has been impressive. Kurt Pellegrino has looked really good too and could move up in rankings with a win over Fabricio Camoes in March. I still think Efrain Escudero will eventually be a top level fighter. Sam Stout turned a lot of heads with his win over Joe Lauzon and could be a serious threat. Sean Sherk appears at the tail end of his career, but anking wise he is still solid. Melvin Guillard could be a force if he remains focused and disciplined…and he is still young. I really liked what I saw from Ross Pearson against Aaron Riley and think he could be a serious contender sooner than later. Also, keep an eye on ATT’s Gleison Tibau and English fighter Terry Etim. By the way, don’t ever forget Clay Guida. He is tough as nail and entertaining as they come. Also, I was impressed with Ronnys Torres. Even though he lost he looked tough. The other possibility is that some welterweight contender drops down in weight. Josh Koscheck has threatened it. Renzo Gracie could do it and so could Matt Serra, but don’t count on that.
The lightweight division is crazy. Inside the top 20 youhave tons of world class fighters. I really believe that my #22 ranked fighter – Ross Pearson could really challenge any of the top 10 guys in the world right now. That shows how deep this division is.