MMA fans who religiously followed the WEC during it’s time under the ZUFFA banner will remember the talk from fans that the WEC Lightweight fighters couldn’t hang with any of the top-level UFC fighters. Fast forward to UFC 144 and all that talk was put to rest as Ben Henderson took down Frankie Edgar in a battle for the ages, winning the UFC Lightweight Championship in the process.
So much for that school of thought.
Ben Henderson took home the unanimous decision victory, 49–46 x2, and 48-47, in a hard-fought, back and forth battle in the UFC’s first time back to Japan since 2000 at UFC 29. The only question now is who stands at the front of the line for the new champion.
While a rematch with both Frankie Edgar and Anthony Pettis, the man who last defeated Ben Henderson in the WEC’s final event, have been tossed around by fans, Nate Diaz and Jim Miller both sit waiting on their fight in May to see where they stand when it comes to the pecking order in the UFC’s ultra deep Lightweight division.
Ben Henderson, while hinting at the UC 145 post fight press conference that he could defend his newly won title against Pettis, also knows there is a line when it comes to who gets first crack.
“I think there’s a line,” Henderson said during an interview with ESPNUK. “I don’t think he(Pettis) is first in line. I’m going to handle my business, you know, defend the belt a couple of times. He’s going to handle his business.”
While the UFC hasn’t come out with a decision as of yet, one could possibly rule out the winner of Miller/Diaz as the next possible contender. While both fighters could make claims to the next shot at the champion, and are considered near the top of the division, the heavily anticipated fight between two of the more exciting fighters in the division will not be happening until May, leaving Ben Henderson on the shelf for over 5 months.
That leaves Pettis, who is coming off an impressive head kick KO of Joe Lauzon on the same UFC 145 card, and Edgar, the man who had only dropped one fight inside the UFC prior to Saturday’s loss.
Whomever the UFC decides should get the next fight, judging by the fights from both fighters involved, the fans will surely get their monies worth on that night.