When the WEC merged with the UFC last year, it was only a matter of time before a number of lightweights decided to drop down to the featherweight division. Former lightweight contenders Kenny Florian and Tyson Griffin are the first notable fighters to make the move.

ESPN’s Franklin McNeil has the story on Florian.

“I started playing around with the idea: could I make 145? Originally, I didn’t think it was possible,” Florian. “I spoke with a few nutritionists, got their opinions, told them what my body fat was, my walking-around weight, all that stuff and the general consensus was that it was very possible.

“I put a lot of thought into it, spoke with my coaches and everybody involved and decided that I am going to try it. I’m going to go for it.”

Florian’s manager Malki Kawa says they have their sights set on UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo and believe they can get a title shot after one or two wins against top featherweights.

“Like [UFC president] Dana White, I like to make big fights,” Kawa. “And a fight with Aldo has been sticking in the back of my head since the UFC asked us for it.

“If there is a way to make it happen, I want to. If it looks like the only way that fight can happen is if Kenny moves down to 145, that’s what we’re going to do.”

“He’s not going to get a title shot at 145 directly,” Kawa said. “We’re asking for a top guy, and then maybe after one or two more fights, he can get a title shot.

“He should be ready to make his 145-pound debut in June or July. He has been cleared to start training this week.”

Florian will have competition for the run at Jose Aldo’s title. Tyson Griffin announced in a video on his official website last week that he’s going for the 145lb. title as soon as he recovers from a knee injury. Transcription via Cage Potato:

“Been having some problems with my knee, decided to get an MRI, found some tears in my meniscus, decided to get those cleaned out, and it’s gonna be a few more weeks until I can put my knee to the test to make sure everything’s good to go and commit to a fight. Nobody wants to be back in the Octagon quicker than I do. Got some big plans for 2011, unfortunately they’re put on hold right now. But those plans are to move to 145 and make a run for that belt.”

There’s no word yet on who either of them would be matched up with in their featherweight debuts, but considering the current lack of notable top contenders in the division, it’s probably not crazy to think at least Florian would be a win away from nabbing a shot at Aldo. Whether he can beat him though is a different question entirely.

Image via Sherdog