If you watched UFC on Fox 7′s main event between UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson and former Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez, you saw an extremely close fight. In the end, Henderson walked away with a split decision victory that many fans felt should have went to Melendez. While the debate over who won the fight continues to rage on [Author Note: For what it's worth, Fight Metric stats seem to confirm that Henderson won.], the talks of an immediate rematch have already been squashed.
By the end of the post-event press conference, Dana White confirmed that the winner of the upcoming bout between Gray Maynard and TJ Grant at UFC 160 – which takes place on May 25 – is next in line for a shot at the lightweight title. At this time, there is no target date for Henderson’s next title defense. In White’s own words:
“Gray Maynard is ranked number three. TJ Grant is ranked number seven. Those guys are gonna fight at UFC 160 on May 25. The winner of that fight is gonna fight Ben Henderson next.”
So, we’re now pretending that those “official UFC rankings” are influencing how fighters earn title shots? I’m sure Chad Mendes, Ricardo Lamas and Chan Sung Jung will be thrilled by this recent development.
Normally, you could expect a tangent about how the rankings are adorable puppy shit right about now, but I actually have no problems with this. Looking over the rest of the rankings, Donald Cerrone is already booked to fight KJ Noons (unranked), Jim Miller will be welcoming Pat Healy to the major leagues (unranked, but almost fought for the Strikeforce title), Nate Diaz got knocked out last night, and Anthony Pettis is next in line for the featherweight title shot. Maynard vs. Grant is easily the most deserving number-one contendership bout on this list.
As for Melendez? He lost a close fight and won’t be getting an immediate rematch. I’d love to play “Offended guy on the Internet” here, but considering he was offered a title shot in his UFC debut, I have no problem with asking him to win a fight in the promotion before being granted another shot at the title. What do you think?