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WAMMA lightweight title on the line for Alvarez vs. Aoki

The New Year's Eve bout between Eddie Alvarez and Shinya Aoki will determine the first ever WAMMA lightweight champion, WAMMA announced Monday.

Alvarez will fight Aoki at "Dynamite!! 2008" at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan to settle what should have been the finals of the 2008 DREAM Lightweight Grand Prix.

"New Year's Eve is rich in both history and tradition for combat sports in Japan," WAMMA Chief Operating Officer Michael Lynch said. "FEG officials have put together an amazing night of fights and WAMMA is looking forward to recognizing the winner of the Aoki vs. Alvarez fight as our first-ever lightweight champion."

Aoki and Alvarez would have met at DREAM.5 but Alvarez sustained an eye injury in his win earlier that night against Tatsuya Kawajiri. This brought in Joachim Hansen, who won the reserve bout, to step in for Alvarez and TKO Aoki to become the DREAM Lightweight Grand Prix champion.

In the WAMMA rankings, Aoki is ranked the number two lightweight while Alvarez is ranked number three. UFC lightweight champion BJ Penn is ranked number one.

"WAMMA's board of directors supports the WAMMA pollsters in their recognition of B.J. Penn as the number one rated lightweight fighter in the world," Lynch said. "However, Penn has not fought since May 24 and isn't scheduled to compete again until January 31. His Jan. 31 fight will be contested at welterweight against Georges St. Pierre for the UFC's 170 pound crown. If Penn wins, UFC President Dana White has already stated that Penn's next fight will be a welterweight title defense against Thiago Alves. Needless to say, Penn's future as a regular competitor in the lightweight division is uncertain."

Lynch continued by saying that if Penn's returns to lightweight, WAMMA would approach the UFC to facilitate a fight between Penn and the WAMMA lightweight champ. However, that's only wishful thinking as the UFC has strongly opposed cooperating with WAMMA.

The only current WAMMA titleholder is Fedor Emelianenko, who won the belt at Affliction "Banned" in July when he submitted Tim Sylvia in 36 seconds.

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