Monday night Clay Guida offered the challenge. Tuesday morning Ben Henderson accepted.
As each fighter rests fresh off the biggest win of their career, calls for title shots have begun to echo from both sides. But with the current logjam that is the UFC lightweight division, each would settle for a number one contender match -- provided it is sooner, rather than later.
Conveniently, such a date recently became available. The UFC's inaugural show on Fox has been hastily scheduled for November 12th in Anaheim, and the promotion quickly needs to create one-hour of guaranteed excitement to spearhead it. As fighters known for their blistering pace and breakneck style, both Guida and Henderson would gladly welcome the challenge.
"I can't think of any better way for the UFC to make its FOX debut than for Ben to fight Clay in the evening's main event," Henderson's manager, Malki Kawa, said to MMAjunkie.com. "There's no possible way Ben and Clay won't deliver an absolute thriller."
"We will attract a whole new number of viewers on prime-time TV because we know Clay's style," Guida's manager, John Fosco, agreed. "We know it's high-pace and high-energy. [Guida] is a polarizing guy in a positive way. Ben Henderson is a very tough guy. We have a ton of respect for him, and we feel he brings the same kind of passion and energy."
With the division's other primary contender, Melvin Guillard, locked into a October 8th battle with Joe Lauzon, the cards do seem aligned for the former WEC veterans.
The 29-year-old Guida (29-11) forcefully pushed himself into the lightweight fray with dominating back-to-back wins over former Pride standout Takanori Gomi and former-WEC champion Anthony Pettis. Likewise, the 27-year-old Henderson (14-2) made waves in his first two fights under the UFC banner, thoroughly destroying Mark Bocek and number one contender Jim Miller.
No matchup has been booked for the promotion's primetime debut on network television at this point, but Kawa is sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this one would be just what the UFC is looking for.
"Dana White always gives the fans what they want," he stated. "And I hope he'll grant them this fight."