Saturday, November 19, 2011
Official ResidencyMMA Lightweight Rankings
The Lightweight division is probably the most stacked in MMA right now, as anyone outside the top ten has the ability to completely cream anyone inside the top ten, as Joe Lauzon showed recent exile Melvin Guillard at UFC 136.
The fact this division is so stacked makes for fantastic fights all around the world. Bellator are looking in to putting on an Eddie Alvarez vs. Shinya Aoki rematch in 2012, Frankie Edgar's queue in the UFC is getting longer and longer with the emergence of such fighters as Lauzon and Donald Cerrone, and Gilbert Melendez has one more Strikeforce fight before he eventually heads over to the Octagon. Come on, we all know it's happening.
Let's see where the last couple of months have left the division.
1: Frankie Edgar (14-1-1)
Okay, Frankie Edgar beat BJ Penn up for fun when he was defending his UFC Lightweight Belt for the first time. Enter the only blemish on his record... Gray Maynard. Maynard battered Edgar all across the cage en route to what I think was a 10-7 round at UFC 125. History looked to repeat itself at UFC 136, but Edgar came back to knock Maynard out in Round 4 of yet another classic between the two. Edgar's next defense? Finally a fresh opponent - Ben Henderson at UFC 144.
2: Gilbert Melendez (19-2)
El Nino is the most dominant champ in Strikeforce. You wanna challenge for his belt? He'll destroy you. But then of course, there's the "big fish in a little pond" argument. Admittedly he did get top ten competition in Shinya Aoki and Tatsuya Kawajiri, but we know how well Japanese fighters have fared in the US cage when crossing over from rings. Melendez needs competition, and he ain't getting that in Strikeforce, of course no offense to Jorge Masvidal, who takes on El Nino in December.
3: Ben Henderson (15-2)
Henderson absolutely destroyed Jim Miller back in August in a fight that was so one-sided, it was almost illegal. Henderson's dominating top control and ground-and-pound battered and bloodied the heavily hyped Miller and has put the former WEC Champ in to UFC title contention. He then had a Fight of the Year candidate with Clay Guida at UFC on FOX, that was so good almost everyone is pissed it wasn't aired. Henderson gets his crack at UFC gold in February, at Japan's UFC 144.
4: Gray Maynard (10-1-1, 1 NC)
Lay 'n' Praynard had two blips on his record - Rob Emerson and Frankie Edgar. He claims he won the Emerson fight (whoever says you can't win a fight while unconscious, Matt Hughes' first Welterweight Title win...) and should have finished Edgar at UFC 125. Roles reversed at UFC 136, as Edgar was the one who finished Maynard in the fourth round of another epic bout. Maynard has a lot to regroup coming off his first pro loss.
5: Shinya Aoki (29-5, 1 NC)
Tobikan Judan, which means "The Master Of Flying Submissions," I think, is as brutal a BJJ player as you're going to come across in MMA. If he breaks your arm, he'll flip you off for not having strong bones (c'mon, Mizuto. Sort it out). Then he'll wanna break it some more. Then name the submission after his boss. Dude is crazy. He's like that teammate on Call of Duty that always screams down the mic whenever he gets a kill, threatening to do the same to the now deceased player's mother.
6: Eddie Alvarez (22-2)
Yet another "big fish in small pond" situation here, as Eddie Alvarez is the Bellator champ. Sure, he has a good fight up next in Michael Chandler, but it's not really the level of competition a fighter such as Eddie should be spending the best years of his career facing. There has been the odd Alvarez/Aoki rematch rumour cropping up every now and again, but that won't be enough. He needs a change of scenery, because I don't think Bellator can.
7: Clay Guida (29-12)
This is where it began to get difficult. Guida just won the biggest fight of his career against final WEC Lightweight champ Anthony Pettis. Sure, it was a grinding affair that actually wasn't that boring (thank you, offensive jiu-jitsu), but Guida got the big W and seemed poised for a crack at the gold provided he got past the destroyer that is Ben Henderson. That didn't happen, but oh my days the fight was awesome, which it usually is when Guida is on the losing end of a top bout. Guida is still very relevant among UFC lightweights though.
8: Donald Cerrone (17-3, 1NC)
Cowboy has flourished since coming over from the WEC. Currently on a six-fight winning streak, four of which have come in the UFC in this calendar year (over Paul Kelly, Vagner Rocha, Charles Oliveira and Dennis Siver), Cerrone looks to be the first fighter since fellow-Lightweight Roger Huerta to go 5-0 in a UFC year when he takes on Nate Diaz in the UFC 141 co-headliner slot and swiftly enter UFC Title contention. Go get some, Donald Cerrone.
9: Jim Miller (20-3)
Hype train and 7-fight win streak, meet religion-powered monster hell-bent (no pun intended) on kicking your ass and stealing your thunder. Miller was so close to a very much deserved title shot and being the clear cut contender, but of course the ol' adage of "anything can happen" reared it's gorgeous head and gave us all another face at the top of the crowded summit of the division. Next up for Miller is a UFC on FX headlining spot against Melvin Guillard. Sick, sick scrap.
10: Anthony Pettis (12-2)
The guy on the good end of the Showtime Kick, Pettis arrived in the UFC awaiting an instant title shot. Of course, he got a long-haired wrestler instead. Pettis showed nice jitz offense in that fight, but it wasn't to be. Next was a stylistic wet dream against heavy handed Jeremy Stephens. Didn't turn out to be the epic we expected, but Pettis was on the right end of the decision. He takes on Joe Lauzon at UFC 143, SuperBowl weekend. THAT is a sick fight.