Has anybody noticed a bit of a changing in the guard in terms of the UFC's weight division with the deepest pool of talent? Easily the lightweight division has been considered the consensus top division for depth the last few years. Starting with BJ Penn's reign, the division had the luxury of feeding off of welterweights dropping down like Stevenson, Sherk, Sanchez and Florian all while cultivating future contenders like Frankie, Grey, Nate Diaz and Clay Guida etc. Meanwhile, the WEC was building solid contenders in Ben Henderson, Donald Cerrrone and Anthony Pettis which only served to strengthen the UFC's lightweight ranks when they came over. But in the last year I've noticed a shift. When I look at the top ten rankings and beyond, the welterweight division and even the featherweight division really seems to have surpassed the lightweights in the depth pool.
Perhaps with Georges' lay off it would be expected. Interesting match ups right off the hop against Condit and Diaz and while they both failed to defeat Georges they remain tough match ups for anyone in the division. Hendricks the obvious choice for the next shot but beyond that Demian Maia and Jake Ellenberger are making strong cases for the one after that. Kampmann, Koscheck and Robbie Lawler are relevant veteran fighters that I would never hesitate to tune in to watch regardless of opponents. The future looks bright too as Rory MacDonald leads the pack of young prospects like Erick Silva and the Strikeforce trio of Tarec Saffiedine, Tyron Woodley and Jordan Mein. Outside of the top ten it doesn't get much easier with the likes of Rick Story, Mike Pierce and Thiago Alves.
For the first time in a long time, lightweight seems depleted. Frankie, Guida and now Pettis dropping down has really left lightweight in a bit of a void. I truly wonder who the winner of Benson/Melendez will face next? Winner of Maynard/Grant? Miller, Diaz and Cerrone are multiple fights away in my opinion. I'm sure things will come around but it's odd to see the lightweights almost cleaned out.