Maynard or Edgar?

January 12th, 2010
By

Gray Maynard got the win over Nate Diaz in the main event of UFC Fight Night last night in Fairfax, Va., to remain undefeated in the lightweight division.

But was it impressive enough to earn a title shot against champion BJ Penn?

Maynard and Frank Edgar are the two candidates to fight Penn for the title in Abu Dhabi in April, but 1) are they deserving and 2) do they stand a chance?

Maynard is 7-0 at lightweight in the UFC with one no contest. That no contest was against Rob Emerson in the Ultimate Fighter 5 Finale (where Penn submitted Jens Pulver), when both men were knocked out on a slam attempt. But other than a knockout against relative unknown Joe Veres, Maynard has won each of his last six fights by decision, and the last two were a split.

Edgar, who lost to Maynard in one of those fights by decision, is 6-1 at lightweight, and also has four decision victories. But when you compare the competition, Edgar has beaten former champion Sean Sherk, Hermes Franca, Spencer Fisher and Tyson Griffin. Maynard’s victories include Diaz, Roger Huerta, Rich Clementi, Jim Miller and Dennis Siver.

Neither man has defeated Kenny Florian, who I believe is the clear number two in the lightweight division, Joe Stevenson or Clay Guida, all guys that I would put near the top of the lightweight division.

Which brings us to the problem of what to do for Penn’s next fight. I don’t think either Edgar or Maynard are ready, and fights for them against at least one of the three previously mentioned guys are fights that I think need to happen before they should fight for a title.

So what does that leave Penn? If he’s ready to put on the weight, which I believe he is, then I think it’s time to put him in the cage at 170 against a middle-tier welterweight. Let’s not have him jump right back up to 170 to fight St-Pierre. Let’s make him earn his way to the top with a good 2-3 victories first at that division.

Everyone knows I think Hawaii is the perfect place for the rubber fight between Penn and Matt Hughes, so that’s why for UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi, I think a Penn vs. Josh Koscheck matchup is the way to go. Koscheck is 12-4 in the UFC and coming off wins over Frank Trigg and Anthony Johnson. His last fight was in November, he has no problems with fighting often (four fights in both 2006 and 2009), and his style matches up well with Penn.

It’s a big enough fight where a Penn victory would mean something. Follow that up with a win over Hughes and a win over whoever comes out of the Maynard/Edgar/Florian/Guida/Stevenson group at lightweight at the end of the year, and heading into 2011, the stage would be set for Penn/St-Pierre 3, maybe even as early as Super Bowl weekend, exactly two years after Penn/St-Pierre 2.

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