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The UFC should have a lightweight tournament

 By Gary Herman

With a suspension to current UFC lightweight champion Sean Sherk appearing to be inevitable, the best thing the UFC can do is have a tournament to determine the new titleholder.

Forget interim champion, temporary champion, champion on hold or whatever you want to call it. All that will do is confuse the situation. A tournament will crown the most deserving lightweight champ.

Obviously, the fighters that will occupy the spots (especially the bottom few) will certainly cause a lot of debate, but here are the eight fighters that I believe should be in the tournament:

  1. BJ Penn
  2. Joe Stevenson
  3. Frankie Edgar
  4. Kenny Florian
  5. Tyson Griffin
  6. Roger Huerta
  7. Clay Guida
  8. Thiago Tavares

There certainly are many others that would be up for consideration (Spencer Fisher and Din Thomas come to mind). Unfortunately though, due to time considerations (the tournament can’t go on forever), eight fighters is the most reasonable amount. So, much like the BCS rankings in NCAA football, the fighters involved will not be an exact science, but as long as the top four are in and the rest of the list is made up of deserving fighters, I would be ok with whoever is chosen.

Regardless of who the fighters are – if there’s one thing we have learned from watching the recent top lightweight fights, it is that 95% of the time we will witness an excellent match-up. Putting them in one tournament all but guarantees some extremely exciting action.

Also, all the top contenders would have a legitimate shot to win the title, and if Sherk were stripped, wouldn’t that be the fairest way to determine the new champ?

When I spoke with Dana White about this exact subject, he said, “The fans don’t want to see a tournament. They wouldn’t want to see all the fights on one card with guys in the same weight class.”

Well ok, for argument’s sake, let’s assume that is the case and we need to space out the fights. The task would not be very difficult. As an example, all that would be needed for the first round is two fights each on two shows: 12/12 and 12/29. The semi-finals would then take place on the April show, and the five-round final would be in August. Only the last match-up would be five rounds as that is the true championship bout.

Who would benefit from the tournament? In short – everyone.

The fans benefit because of all the potentially compelling match-ups. In addition, interest would be tremendous because all the fights in the competition would have the “big fight” feel to them. Each bout would be do or die.

The fighters benefit because the top guys will each have a true chance to win the championship. No more begging Dana White in post-fight interviews for title fights. Championship matches are few and far between, and the tournament will give eight guys an opportunity to win it.

The UFC benefits because the winner absolutely deserves the title. It will also help to defuse the fans bitterness for the UFC’s champion testing positive for steroids. Finally, by showcasing a fighter that has three wins in three high profile fights, the UFC will have created a new superstar- someone who could be major drawing card in the future.

Obviously, there are some behind-the-scenes issues that would need to be made (contract status, special rules, injury replacements, etc.), but the competition would be a win-win-win for everyone involved.

At the end of the day, we would have great fights, outstanding competition, and a truly deserving UFC lightweight champion.

  • phyteguru says:

    I can’t agree with ya more Sam, I’ve been saying this for a long while now. Better start a petition and hand it over to Dana!

  • Sam Caplan says:

    PG, Gary Herman is the author of the article.

  • jjdnb says:

    why have a tourny when you know who are the 2 best at LW division, not counting Sherk of course?
    Let BJ beat Stevenson and get the title. Then when Sherk comes back, BJ can manhandle him and be the “only” LW champ.

  • Da Twin says:

    Good luck with a lightweight tournament, its a great idea but Dana has said in the past that he hates tournaments!

  • Al says:

    Nice article, but you forget one salient point when you declare that only positives can come out of this – possibly a fighter going through and winning because of injuries to actual bout winners. I think that could do more harm than good – in a championship bout, if someone is injured then it’s just postponed, they don’t forfeit their right for a shot for the most part. Having said that, I would love to see a UFC tournament at any weight and the LW division is prime for one (even more so than LWH).

  • Tommy says:

    This is exactly what the fans want. I’ve been crying this for months now. Even if they couldn’t do it all in one event they could split it into two. Semi’s then the finals.

  • Orlando says:

    Theres one person you forgot to mention….and that i feel should have been metioned over Guida….and thats Melvin Guillard…he lost to stevenson..but thats cause his grappling is garbage…he trains with the gi…he will be the shit..and i also feel he could be champion for sheer strength even though … everyone…hes just wayyy to strong..

  • Orlando says:

    i meant he needs to train with a Gi!!!! sorry i messed up…hhaah but even though a gi wont make you much better…but still im just saying…Clay Guida beat Aurelio but thats it he lost to thomas…and i dont think we will be seeing him for a while unless its between a thick ass piece of Glass….

  • garth says:

    Dear Dana White:
    I am a fan. I want to see a tournament. I will buy the PPV and go to the event.
    I’d love to see something like the pride GP. Its exciting and cool. It can be a different belt if you don’t want to crown your weight classes that way.

  • Dugganl8306 says:

    What about Nate Diaz? He could easily choke out half that list!


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