Top 5 Lightweights Who Deserve A Title Shot

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5 UFC Lightweights Who Deserve A Title Shot

Pettis
David Banks-USA Today Sports

For the past several years, the UFC lightweight division has been one of the most stacked division in the organization. With countless possibilities for title contenders, it can sometimes be hard for the UFC to pinpoint the right fighter to grant a title shot. When the title shot is granted, sometimes the fight is too close to score if it doesn't end before the final bell rings.

When we look at recent champions, Anthony Pettis and BJ Penn are the only individuals who have defended the title against a new opponent in their next outing after winning the championship. Frankie Edgar was forced to battle Penn a second time after winning the title, and then forced into back-to-back fights against Gray Maynard and Benson Henderson because the fights were so close.

Current champion Pettis was the first individual to win his title fight outright when he submitted Henderson in the first round. It's doubtful, even if he wins his next fight against Josh Thomson, that Henderson will be granted another shot at Pettis. This opens the flood gates in the lightweight title picture.

With Pettis sidelined with an injury until mid-2014 at best, there is enough time for several lightweights to make a case for a title shot. Here are the top-five lightweights who deserve that shot.

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5. Khabib Nurmagomedov

Khabib
Tom Szczerbowski-USA Today Sports

A 21-0 spearheads Khabib Nurmagomedov's efforts at gaining a title shot. The Russian has proven that he can be a force in the lightweight division. Since joining the UFC in January 2012, he has went 5-0 in the organization.

With his signature win coming against Pat Healy, Nurmagomedov has beaten Abel Trujillo, Gleison Tibau, Thiago Tavares and Kamal Shalorus. Out of those five fights, three have been finished by decision (Healy, Trujillo, Tibau). He was able to finish Tavares and Shalorus by KO/TKO and submission, respectively.

A well-rounded fighter, it would be interesting to see how Nurmagomedov would deal with the unorthodox striking of Anthony Pettis. In reality, Nurmagomedov is still at least two fights short of a title shot. He needs more star names on his resume before he lands a fight against the champ.

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4. Nate Diaz

Diaz
Kyle Terada-USA Today Sports

The younger Diaz brother showcased his boxing with a knockout victory over Gray Maynard. Back-to-back losses did little to slow down Nate Diaz's cocky nature leading into the Maynard fight; losses never change the fact that Diaz believes he is one of the best lightweights alive.

It would have appeared that Diaz would have to take the long road back to a potential title shot. It’s funny how one knockout over a decent opponent can change things. The UFC hastened Diaz right back into title talk by racing him up the rankings to N. 5. His slap-box style works against some opponents (Maynard, Donald Cerrone, Takanori Gomi), while others have an easy job solving the puzzle (Josh Thomson, Benson Henderson).

Diaz will need another signature victory before he receives another shot at the title, but the chances of him beating a fighter like Pettis are slim to none.

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3. Gilbert Melendez

Melendez
Andrew Richardson-USA Today Sports

Gilbert Melendez is a terrific fighter and deserves to be mentioned as one of the best lightweights in the world. A loss to Benson Henderson did nothing to hurt his stock in the lightweight title picture. A brutal battle and win against Diego Sanchez did everything to help it.

Many people believe that Melendez defeated Henderson in their five-round war for the title. Nevertheless, Melendez is on the outside looking in because of the loss. He has terrific boxing and take down defense, which is mainly why he was able to fend off Henderson for five rounds. His style makes for exciting fights as well.

An Pettis and Melendez fight would be great for MMA fans, and would have potential to be a fight of the night winner. Melendez is one individual fans wouldn't mind seeing walk right into a title shot against the champ, even if he is just one fight removed for a title shot.

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2. Josh Thomson

Josh
Kyle Terada-USA Today Sports

Considering he was already offered a title fight against Pettis, there is only one fighter who deserves a title shot over Josh Thomson (that individual is ranked No. 1 on the list). If Thomson can make his way past Benson Henderson, he deserves a shot at the title.

Thomson isn’t the biggest name in the UFC. He really isn’t the second best fighter in the lightweight division, but a promise is a promise. It isn’t his fault Pettis is injury prone. Give the man his due if he beats Henderson. If not a title shot then at least put him in a title-eliminator fight.

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1. TJ Grant

Grant
Gary A. Vasquez-USA Today Sports

TJ Grant should have been the man to fight Henderson for the title. An unlucky injury left the lightweight out of the title fight. He had to watch Pettis take his glory away. Now recovering, Grant deserves a title shot over anyone else in the lightweight division.

Even though he had to pull out of two title fights due to injuries, Grant has the skill set to give Pettis a run for his money. Now 5-0 after destroying Maynard, Grant has proven he is a top competitor in the lightweight ranks. The injury to Pettis would allow Grant to nurse his injures and be back to full strength by the time the champ returns. That is when the title fight should be made.

1 of 6

5 UFC Lightweights Who Deserve A Title Shot

Pettis
David Banks-USA Today Sports

For the past several years, the UFC lightweight division has been one of the most stacked division in the organization. With countless possibilities for title contenders, it can sometimes be hard for the UFC to pinpoint the right fighter to grant a title shot. When the title shot is granted, sometimes the fight is too close to score if it doesn't end before the final bell rings.

When we look at recent champions, Anthony Pettis and BJ Penn are the only individuals who have defended the title against a new opponent in their next outing after winning the championship. Frankie Edgar was forced to battle Penn a second time after winning the title, and then forced into back-to-back fights against Gray Maynard and Benson Henderson because the fights were so close.

Current champion Pettis was the first individual to win his title fight outright when he submitted Henderson in the first round. It's doubtful, even if he wins his next fight against Josh Thomson, that Henderson will be granted another shot at Pettis. This opens the flood gates in the lightweight title picture.

With Pettis sidelined with an injury until mid-2014 at best, there is enough time for several lightweights to make a case for a title shot. Here are the top-five lightweights who deserve that shot.

2 of 6

5. Khabib Nurmagomedov

Khabib
Tom Szczerbowski-USA Today Sports

A 21-0 spearheads Khabib Nurmagomedov's efforts at gaining a title shot. The Russian has proven that he can be a force in the lightweight division. Since joining the UFC in January 2012, he has went 5-0 in the organization.

With his signature win coming against Pat Healy, Nurmagomedov has beaten Abel Trujillo, Gleison Tibau, Thiago Tavares and Kamal Shalorus. Out of those five fights, three have been finished by decision (Healy, Trujillo, Tibau). He was able to finish Tavares and Shalorus by KO/TKO and submission, respectively.

A well-rounded fighter, it would be interesting to see how Nurmagomedov would deal with the unorthodox striking of Anthony Pettis. In reality, Nurmagomedov is still at least two fights short of a title shot. He needs more star names on his resume before he lands a fight against the champ.

3 of 6

4. Nate Diaz

Diaz
Kyle Terada-USA Today Sports

The younger Diaz brother showcased his boxing with a knockout victory over Gray Maynard. Back-to-back losses did little to slow down Nate Diaz's cocky nature leading into the Maynard fight; losses never change the fact that Diaz believes he is one of the best lightweights alive.

It would have appeared that Diaz would have to take the long road back to a potential title shot. It’s funny how one knockout over a decent opponent can change things. The UFC hastened Diaz right back into title talk by racing him up the rankings to N. 5. His slap-box style works against some opponents (Maynard, Donald Cerrone, Takanori Gomi), while others have an easy job solving the puzzle (Josh Thomson, Benson Henderson).

Diaz will need another signature victory before he receives another shot at the title, but the chances of him beating a fighter like Pettis are slim to none.

4 of 6

3. Gilbert Melendez

Melendez
Andrew Richardson-USA Today Sports

Gilbert Melendez is a terrific fighter and deserves to be mentioned as one of the best lightweights in the world. A loss to Benson Henderson did nothing to hurt his stock in the lightweight title picture. A brutal battle and win against Diego Sanchez did everything to help it.

Many people believe that Melendez defeated Henderson in their five-round war for the title. Nevertheless, Melendez is on the outside looking in because of the loss. He has terrific boxing and take down defense, which is mainly why he was able to fend off Henderson for five rounds. His style makes for exciting fights as well.

An Pettis and Melendez fight would be great for MMA fans, and would have potential to be a fight of the night winner. Melendez is one individual fans wouldn't mind seeing walk right into a title shot against the champ, even if he is just one fight removed for a title shot.

5 of 6

2. Josh Thomson

Josh
Kyle Terada-USA Today Sports

Considering he was already offered a title fight against Pettis, there is only one fighter who deserves a title shot over Josh Thomson (that individual is ranked No. 1 on the list). If Thomson can make his way past Benson Henderson, he deserves a shot at the title.

Thomson isn’t the biggest name in the UFC. He really isn’t the second best fighter in the lightweight division, but a promise is a promise. It isn’t his fault Pettis is injury prone. Give the man his due if he beats Henderson. If not a title shot then at least put him in a title-eliminator fight.

6 of 6

1. TJ Grant

Grant
Gary A. Vasquez-USA Today Sports

TJ Grant should have been the man to fight Henderson for the title. An unlucky injury left the lightweight out of the title fight. He had to watch Pettis take his glory away. Now recovering, Grant deserves a title shot over anyone else in the lightweight division.

Even though he had to pull out of two title fights due to injuries, Grant has the skill set to give Pettis a run for his money. Now 5-0 after destroying Maynard, Grant has proven he is a top competitor in the lightweight ranks. The injury to Pettis would allow Grant to nurse his injures and be back to full strength by the time the champ returns. That is when the title fight should be made.


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