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FightLines: Lightweights

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Gomi = Aurelio
Stout = Fisher
Melendez > Guida > Thomson > Melendez
Hansen > Boku > Mitsuoka > Hansen

Divide and rule, a sound motto. Unite and lead, a better one.

-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

If you go back to the heavyweight graph (in all its monochrome glory), I discussed the divide between UFC and non-UFC/Pride fighters.  The lightweight graph looks even more striking than that.  Cut out the top right quadrant and you have, with only a couple exceptions, almost all of the UFC representatives in the system.

With the demise of Pride, we have an additional divide in Japan's lightweight talent.  Most of the former Bushido stars fight for the love child of FEG and DSE, Dream, while Japan's controversial number one lightweight is tied to upstart World Victory Road's Sengoku show.

Meanwhile, on the Island of Hawai'i, B.J. Penn has a hold of the UFC Lightweight Title.  Penn adds complexity to the situation with renewed aspirations of moving up to 170 pounds to fight welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre.  If he were to abandon the division, it would leave the UFC's 155 class in a very scattered state.

Unfortunately, there's nothing on the horizon that suggests we'll be seeing cross-Pacific fights any time soon.  Takanori Gomi personally may never fight another relevant opponent again.

Yet the sheer amount of global talent means we will be enjoying interesting and compelling fights for years to come.  Dream's lightweight grand prix has brought us four unique stories together for July 21st.  The UFC seems to have unlimited supplies of young talent - Roger Huerta, Tyson Griffin, Nate Diaz - and that doesn't include young veterans like Joe Stevenson and Kenny Florian.  And we still haven't talked about Americans like Gilbert Melendez and Josh Thomson, legitimate talents outside of the UFC's grasp.

Notes after the break.

-New and improved colors!  I think the paler colors make the graph more readable, especially so with the thumbnail version.

-FightLines criteria omits two guys I expect to end up on the graph next month - the aforementioned Tyson Griffin and EliteXC champ K.J. Noons. 

-With the impending death of the IFL looming, it will be interesting to see how fighters like Chris Horodecki, Ryan Schultz, Bart Palaszewski, and Deividas Taurosevicius stack up and under which promotions they will compete for.

-The results of the Dream tournament this month have some potentially exciting implications.  An Aoki or Alvarez win would solidify their claim to the top of the Dream path.  However, if either Uno or Kawajiri wins their first fight, it creates some interesting loops.  A Kawajiri win over Alavarez, for instance, would cause a large 6 fighter loop that would drastically affect each fighter's position in the path.

-Majority Leaders:

1. Shinya Aoki 85% (22/0)
1. Gesias Cavalcante 85% (21/1)
3. Andre Amade 73% (16/3)
4. Caol Uno 69% (14/4)
4. Mitsuhiro Ishida 69% (12/6)

The largest share for a UFC fighter is B.J. Penn at 53%, 11 spots from the top.

-Interesting FightLines Match-ups:

This one's pretty easy.  Take one fighter from both the left and right side of the graph.  Almost any fight between guys who've had any sort of success on either side of the pond would be a compelling fight.

Realistically, though, there's lots of fun fights.  The Kenny Florian/Roger Huerta fight is just another example of Joe Silva's competentcy as matchmaker.  Clay Guida would be a good test for Gray Maynard.  Joe Stevenson and Sean Sherk could find out who is the better short stocky fighter beaten by B.J. Penn.

Over in Japan, it would be nice to see Gomi fight some of the guys who had been fighting in K-1 HERO'S like "JZ" Cavalcante or "Shaolin" Ribeiro.  As I said earlier, both of the Dream semi-final matches can have drastic effects.  Outside of the tournament, I'd like to see some combination of Joachim Hansen, Vitor Ribeiro, Andre Amade, and Mitsuhiro Ishida.

Jordan Breen coined the phrase "no-miss matchmaking" on his Sherdog radio show for situations in an organization's division where you can pick almost any 2 contenders and you'll end up with a relevant fight.  That's essentially true for the entire 155 division globally.  There's just so much talent and so little mingling of it that there are almost limitless amounts of fresh bouts available.