When Zuffa announced that the WEC would fold into the UFC it was great news for featherweight and bantamweight fighters everywhere. It assured them more exposure, bigger pay days and better sponsors. What many people did not count on was the impact it would have on the lightweight division. The featherweights coming to the UFC have a chance for undersized lightweights to drop down a weight class and still remain in the UFC. Manny Gamburyan, for one, found success in dropping down a weight class. Guys like Gamburyan and Leonard Garcia were undersized in the lightweight division and probably could never win a title. The drop down made that a possibility. Now both are rankled fighters.
It has recently been announced that perennial lightweight contender Kenny Florian will drop down a weight class and compete in the featherweight division. Florian who is a top 5 lightweight will be a serious threat to Aldo’s crown. The UFC featherweight division is already stacked with talent. It is a division that has most of the world’s top talent in that division. It is a division ruled by one of the top pound for pound guys in Jose Aldo. It is a divsiion with names such as number one contender Mark Hominick, Chad Mendes, Michihiro Omigawa, Josh Grispi, Manny Gamburyan, Leonard Gaarcia, Nam Phan, Rapahel Assuncao, Mike Brown, Rani Yahya, Diego Nunes and Dustin Poirer. Florian moves right to the top of that list.
Also, it was announced that lightweight contender Tyson Griffin will move down to the division as well. Griffin has been on a skid as of late, but Griffin is still a top 25 lightweight in the world and has the potential to contend for a title in the featherweight division.
I expect other guys to drop down as well. Frankie Edgar, the UFC champion, could easily drop down in weight. Perhaps a super fight a 145 with Aldo could be in the future. Also, guys like Cole Miller and Joe Stevenson have been mentioned at that weight class. Perhaps there are some surprises as well.
The UFC-WEC merger created a great opportunity for guys to compete at 145 lbs and 135 lbs. Look for the featherweight division to become one of the most competitive divisions in the world.