A lot of things should go into booking Benson Henderson’s next fight, beginning with marketability and ending with scruples.
Never mind the merits of Nate Diaz and Jim Miller for the time being. They are set up on a distant horizon, too distant to factor into a demanding public’s want of matchmaking immediacy.
And still, both situations are complicated.
If the UFC eschews Edgar’s request for a rematch, it looks like he’s getting a raw deal for a guy who has been nothing but a model champion for the last two years. Did he complain about having to back up his victory over B.J. Penn? Under his breath, maybe. He also handled the Maynard series with the kind of professionalism that fans could get used to. For all his deeds, how can the UFC simply ignore the case he’s presenting for rematch in a fight that was so close enough as to warrant one?
There are plenty of reasons, and most weigh around 155 pounds.
The fact that Edgar has been involved in consecutive rematches at the top of the lightweight division means it’s been off limits to contenders for going on two years. That’s a long time to hijack a division, fair or not. For one disgruntled former champion, there’s a mob scene going on just below him of people who have their own cases to hear. The perpetual logjam at the top at 155 pounds isn’t Edgar’s fault, or Pettis’s, for that matter. Or Jim Miller’s, or Melvin Guillard’s, or Donald Cerrone’s.
If the UFC books Edgar/Henderson II, all the contenders who have been looking for an opening for that belt will effectively be snubbed yet again. “What’s right?” Edgar asked at the postfight news conference at UFC 144, meaning he’s done right by the UFC, and now it’s time for the UFC to do right by him.
Maybe so, but “what’s right?” in this case is a complicated question.
And of all the wayside contenders to lose out in a new rematch scenario, Pettis would be the one most affronted. He was the one who lost out on the last rematch scenario. Remember, it was the reigning WEC lightweight champ Pettis who came into the UFC as the No. 1 contender to fight the Maynard/Edgar winner to start 2011. When the fight went to a draw, Pettis, who was then 23 years old, didn’t want to sit out and wait and so took a stay-busy fight with Clay Guida. Then he lost, and that set him back a full year. Now he knocks out Joe Lauzon and re-establishes himself as a (less clear-cut) No. 1 contender, and his reward could be to stand aside again.
Or to take a fight and stay busy while this thing sorts out.
That’s not an ideal situation to be in once, much less twice. People fight to make money, but also to earn a chance at a belt. That’s the ultimate goal, and at some point it becomes a goal held in vain when no opening in the title picture can be found.
So what does the UFC do? Does it book the rematch with Henderson and Edgar, and do what’s right by one deserving man? Or does it open the belt up for business, and allow Pettis to finally walk toward the light?
Tricky stuff. But you can see why Dana White is so bent on having Edgar drop down to 145 pounds to challenge Jose Aldo. It’s the only scenario where everybody more or less wins -- and traffic can get moving in both divisions.