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411’s MMA Rankings 10.16.12: Lightweight Division

October 16, 2012 | Posted by Jonathan Solomon

Welcome to the weekly 411 MMA Rankings, the spot you see us unleash the hounds on the best fighters in the world to see where everyone stands. This week we place the 411mania magnifying glass on the lightweight division, unfortunately a division plagued by inactivity of late. As a matter of fact, between former champions dropping weight, Zuffa canceling more shows and anticipating a major December show on Fox, only one top 15 fighter was in action over the past two months.

Eddie Alvarez, the former Bellator champion, won with a knockout of Patricky “Pitbull” Freire over the weekend and is now recognized as the hottest free agent in all of mixed martial arts. The UFC is expected to throw some money at the Philadelphia product and the idea of seeing Alvarez fight the likes of Jim Miller, Joe Lauzon, Gray Maynard, Anthony Pettis, Cowboy Cerrone, etc. is incredibly enticing. Eddie made his 411 MMA Rankings debut in June 2008 after he earned his way into the semifinals of the DREAM lightweight grand prix. He’s been a mainstay ever since and unless something comes from out of left field, he’ll be taking his 24-3 career to the octagon before too long.

Back to the adventures of Zuffa’s attempt to promote shows — who could have guessed 2012 would be the year the UFC and Strikeforce end up canceling a combined three shows in the span of three months. Much like Dan Henderson’s injury led to the insanity around UFC 151, Gilbert Melendez suffered an injury in his final preparations for his planned title defense against Pat Healy and as a result, Showtime refused to air the card. Plus, the November 3rd Strikeforce card is history, too, so we may not see their lightweight champion until January at the earliest.

At least we have Benson Henderson and Nate Diaz to look forward to. Their sure-to-be-awesome-fight is under 60 days away and I don’t know about all of you, but this is the one fight scheduled between now and the end of the year that I’m most looking forward to. More than GSP/Condit, more than JDS/Velasquez and everything in between.

In case you forgot, a fresh spot opened up in our Top 15 because former UFC champion Frankie Edgar is now a featherweight. Ironically, he was scheduled to challenge 145-pound champion Jose Aldo at this past weekend’s show in Brazil but the champion came up injured following some kind of motorcycle accident. There’s no word on when Edgar may finally get his shot at Aldo or if there’s a change of plans, so stay tuned if you’re a fan of the durable Jersey native.

If Joe Warren were here, he’d tell you to set up your own Disqus account so you can join the discussion in the comments section beneath this article and every other piece of content on 411mania. It’s so easy, Samer Kadi could do it!


Feedback to Last Week’s Middleweight Rankings

From mmf:
Alexander Shlemenko dosent get to be top 15 if he isnt fightig for zuffa as there is no talent outside it at mw and the guy turned down a ufc contract
If you feel that way about Shlemenko, why don’t you have a beef with Tim Kennedy? Just because the promotion he fights for was purchased by Zuffa last year, he’s cool in your book?

From Sisti:
Interesting division right now…hard to sort out…I definitely believe Shields should be up there. Not sure the exact stats, but think he’s 17-3 in his last 20 fights. He has some wins over huge names and is the ideal style to dethrone silva (excellent takedowns and amazing submission defense with enough standup to avoid being knocked out)
No no no my friend. If Shields were to ever fight Anderson Silva, he would be knocked out. No question in my mind. His stand-up is less than average at best. Yes, his ground game is top notch, but Silva is no slouch in that area.

I know your comment was posted before news of Shields’ drug test failure came to light, so this is a moot point, but he’s just there in the division. He’s not a contender but he does have some kind of name for the diehards who know of his success at welterweight. Since 2008, he’s 3-0 at middleweight (not counting the Ed Herman fight because it was changed to a no contest), he’s a good fighter. But, while his ground game is that good, his striking is that bad. Sure, he could catch anyone with a submission, but I would never predict it against someone like Silva in the hypothetical situation they fight.

From John Arthur:
Pretty good rankings, but Michael Bisping at #3 is insane, he beat Brian Stann (though with eye gouge, nut shot, and cage holding) conversely Vitor Belfort at #8 is ridiculously disrespectful to a guy that minus the Silva has been a shut-down MW.
1. Silva
2. Weidman – can fight for the title tomorrow and no one should have an issue
3. Rockhold – can fight for the title tomorrow and no one should have an issue
4. Belfort – needs one win against any top ten guy for a shot
5. Bisping – needs one win against any top ten guy for a shot
6. Boetsch – could fight for the title but he needs a big win
7. Jacare – likely needs to smash more cans but is the brightest prospect of the next five
8. Lombard – had fight with Boetsch that could have gone either way, really should be ahead of the other losers.
9. Munoz – finished quickly in his fight but top fivers shouldn’t fall out of the top ten
10. Belcher – while he’s reemerged as a legitimate contender he’s two wins out of contention.
11. Okami – bounced back, though unimpressive against Buddy Roberts hopefully that was just a tune-up and he’s back
12. Stann – the story is a million bucks but really Sakara, Leben, and Santiago aren’t big enough wins to put you in the top ten.
13. Shlemenko – staggering numbers 9-1 in his last 10, 15-2 in his last 17, 26-4 in his last 30. I think this is where you go with prospects over names especially when those names are Shields and Kennedy.
14. Khalidov – Best fighter not signed to a major promotion?
15. Carmont – the next big thing and possible new hype monster
I’d think Belfort needs more than one win to get a second crack at Anderson Silva.
If Boetsch were to beat Weidman in December, he should only need one more win before he gets a title shot. Of course, I don’t see an opportunity in this universe that Anderson Silva fights him before potential fights with GSP and Jon Jones.

I could agree with your sentiment about Khalidov, he certainly has had the consistent success around the world including being the first fighter to knock out Jorge Santiago after he left the UFC.

Carmont, step by step, he’s making his name in the UFC. Three impressive wins already and he’s fighting Tom Lawlor next month. Plus, he’s FRENCH! We do need more Frenchman raising hell in the octagon.

From snouticon:
Belcher higher, Weidman lower. Other than that, mostly agree. I might have put Belcher in top 4-5. Bisping I think is right, he’s 2-4.
Belcher in the top 5? I know he’s #7 in our rankings and has four wins in a row, but he needs a win against a top 5 guy to settle any dispute. He’s not exactly getting that opportunity against Yushin Okami, but such a win could definitely push him above Jacare.

If you have Weidman beneath #2, who is your second middleweight?

Thanks for all the comments, questions and whatever else you sent our way. It is always appreciated and welcome!


RANKINGS FROM ONE YEAR AGO
09.13.11

1. Frankie Edgar

2. Gilbert Melendez

3. Gray Maynard

4. Eddie AlvarezJ

5. Clay Guida

6. Shinya Aoki

7. Ben Henderson

8. im Miller

9. Melvin Guillard

10. Dennis Siver

11. Anthony Pettis

12. Donald Cerrone

13. Tatsuya Kawajiri

14. Jorge Masvidal

14. Pat Healy


411’s MMA Ranking Rules

Which fighters are eligible for these rankings? They must meet the following qualifications: fight at least once in the past 365 days or if they have not, be officially scheduled for an upcoming fight.

– A fighter serving a disciplinary suspension will not be ranked. They can return when they have served their suspension or in the event it is rescinded. This includes fighters who may disregard their suspension locally to fight overseas.

– If a fighter appears on just one single ballot, and in the top ten, five points will be deducted to balance between other fighters who may be ranked lower, but appear on a greater amount of ballots.

– Want to complain about a fighter’s ranking in the comments section? Please include an objective reason why you despise the list, and try your best to bring the rest of us to your way of thinking.


411’s Official MMA Rankings

Lightweight Division (155 lbs)


1) Benson Henderson (17-2)

Height: 5’9

Birthday: November 16, 1983

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

– vs. Frankie Edgar – Win via decision (unanimous) – UFC 150: Henderson vs. Edgar 2 – August 11, 2012

– vs. Frankie Edgar – Win via decision (unanimous) – UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson – February 25, 2012

– vs. Clay Guida – Win via decision (unanimous) – UFC on Fox: Velasquez vs. dos Santos – November 12, 2011

– vs. Jim Miller – Win via decision (unanimous) – UFC on Versus: Hardy vs. Lytle – August 14, 2011

– vs. Mark Bocek – Win via decision (unanimous) – UFC 129: St. Pierre vs. Shields – April 30, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

– vs. Nate Diaz – UFC on Fox: Henderson vs. Diaz – December 8, 2012

Comment: What a way to showcase the lightweight division in a way never before seen in MMA — with millions of fans watching across the world on free television. With such a stacked card for Fox (Henderson/Diaz title fight, Shogun/Gustafsson, Penn/MacDonald all headlining), expectations will be big for at least five million people to tune in.

As for the fight itself, I have no idea what to think. It could go in any number of ways because Henderson and Diaz are difficult to finish and they’re always fighting. You won’t find any stall tactics in this one, plus, both men are accomplished whether fighting on the ground or the feet. Furthermore, Henderson’s submission defense is something short of legendary while Diaz is coming off a sick finish of Jim Miller earlier in the year. It’s going to be an awesome fight, period.



2) Nate Diaz (16-7)

Height: 6’0

Birthday: April 16, 1985

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

– vs. Jim Miller – Win via via submission (guillotine choke) – UFC on Fox: Diaz vs. Miller – May 5, 2012

– vs. Donald Cerrone – Win via decision (unanimous) – UFC 141: Lesnar vs. Overeem – December 30, 2011

– vs. Takanori Gomi – Win via submission (armbar) – UFC 135: Jones vs. Rampage – September 24, 2011

– vs. Rory MacDonald – Loss via decision (unanimous) – UFC 129: St. Pierre vs. Shields – April 30, 2011

– vs. Dong Hyun Kim – Loss via decision (unanimous) – UFC 125: Edgar vs. Maynard 2 – January 1, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

– vs. Benson Henderson – UFC on Fox: Henderson vs. Diaz – December 8, 2012

Comment: Depending on your thoughts on interim championships, Nate is the first Diaz to get a crack at an undisputed UFC championship. Nick fought Carlos Condit for the interim-welterweight championship and lost in February. With Nate, since returning to lightweight last year, he’s improved more so than in any other period of his career. His grappling looks as dangerous as ever and his striking has always been a strength. I presume the only doubt you could have about him is whether he can avoid the pitfalls that plagued him earlier in his career: wrestlers.



3) Gilbert Melendez (21-2)

Height: 5’9

Birthday: April 12, 1982

Currently Fighting With: Strikeforce

Last 5 fights:

– vs. Josh Thomson – Win via decision (split) – Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Cormier – May 19, 2012

– vs. Jorge Masvidal – Win via decision (unanimous) – Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Masvidal – December 17, 2011

– vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri – Win via TKO (strikes) – Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley – April 9, 2011

– vs. Shinya Aoki – Win via decision (unanimous) – Strikeforce: Nashville – April 17, 2010

– vs. Josh Thomson – Win via decision (unanimous) – Strikeforce: Evolution – December 19, 2009

Next scheduled appearance:

– Unknown

Comment: Unfortunately, Melendez could not defend his championship last month due to a late injury and that Strikeforce show ended up canceled. With the news that next month’s card is also axed, we do know they’re waiting until January where hopefully they can promote a huge show on Showtime. Hopefully, Gil will be able to fight Pat Healy then.



4) Gray Maynard (11-1-1)

Height: 5’8

Birthday: May 9, 1979

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 6 fights:

– vs. Clay Guida – Win via decision (split) – UFC on FX: Maynard vs. Guida – June 22, 2012

– vs. Frankie Edgar – Loss via KO (strikes) – UFC 136: Edgar vs. Maynard 3 – October 8, 2011

– vs. Frankie Edgar – DRAW (split) – UFC 125: Resolution – January 1, 2011

– vs. Kenny Florian – Win via decision (unanimous) – UFC 118: Edgar vs. Penn 2 – August 28, 2010

– vs. Nate Diaz – Win by decision (split) – UFC Fight Night 20 – January 11, 2010

Next scheduled appearance:

– vs. Joe Lauzon – UFC 155: dos Santos vs. Velasquez – December 29, 2012

Comment: The rebirth of Gray Maynard continues before the end of the year as he’ll take on another UFC veteran in the form of Joe Lauzon. I’m not sure what Maynard and his people would do should he suffer another loss as a lightweight (can he make featherweight?). It sucks to talk about his career like this because he’s a great fighter and has had so much success, but spending a year in two title fights and not winning the big brass ring, it’s not great. Regardless of all that, he’ll be the favorite taking on Lauzon.



5) Michael Chandler (10-0)

Height: 5’8

Birthday: April 24, 1986

Currently Fighting With: Bellator Fighting Championship

Last 5 fights:

– vs. Akihiro Gono – Win via TKO (strikes) – Bellator 67 – May 4, 2012

– vs. Eddie Alvarez – Win via submission (rear naked choke) – Bellator 58 – November 19, 2011

– vs. Patricky Freire – Win via decision (unanimous) – Bellator 44 – May 14, 2011

– vs. Lloyd Woodard – Win via decision (unanimous) – Bellator 40 – April 8, 2011

– vs. Marcin Held – Win via technical submission (arm triangle choke) – Bellator 46 – March 12, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

– vs. Rick Hawn – Bellator – TBA



6) “Showtime” Anthony Pettis (14-2)

Height: 5’9

Birthday: January 27, 1987

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

– vs. Joe Lauzon – Win via KO (head kick) – UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson – February 25, 2012

– vs. Jeremy Stephens – Win via decision (split) – UFC 136: Edgar vs. Maynard 3 – October 8, 2011

– vs. Clay Guida – Loss via decision (unanimous) – TUF 13 Finale – June 4, 2011

– vs. Ben Henderson – Win via decision (unanimous) – WEC 53: Henderson vs. Pettis – December 16, 2010

– vs. Shane Roller – Win via submission (Triangle Choke) – WEC 50: Cruz vs. Benavidez 2 – August 18, 2010

Next scheduled appearance:

– Unknown

Comment: There’s no new news to talk about, so all I can hope for, is the UFC is waiting to put Pettis in a fight with Cowboy Donald Cerrone ASAP.

They better be looking to make that fight!



7) “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone (19-4-0-1)

Height: 6′

Birthday: March 29, 2983

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

– vs. Melvin Guillard – Win via TKO (strikes) – UFC 150: Henderson vs. Edgar 2 – August 11, 2012

– vs. Jeremy Stephens – Win via decision (unanimous) – UFC on Fuel: Sung-Jung vs. Poirier – May 15, 2012

– vs. Nate Diaz – Loss via decision (unanimous) – UFC 141: Lesnar vs. Overeem – December 30, 2011

– vs. Dennis Siver – Win via submission (rear naked choke) – UFC 137: Diaz vs. Penn – October 29, 2011

– vs. Charles Oliveira – Win via TKO (strikes) – UFC on Versus: Hardy vs. Lytle – August 14, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

– Unknown



8) Eddie Alvarez (24-3)

Birthday: November 11, 1984

Currently Fighting With: Free Agent

Last 5 fights:

– vs. Patricky Freire – Win via KO (head kick) – Bellator 75 – October 12, 2012

– vs. Shinya Aoki – Win via TKO (strikes) – Bellator 66 – April 20, 2012

– vs. Michael Chandler – Loss via submission (rear naked choke) – Bellator 58 – November 19, 2011

– vs. Pat Curran – Win via decision (unanimous) – Bellator 39 – April 2, 2011

– vs. Roger Huerta – Win via TKO (doctor stoppage) – Bellator 33 – October 21, 2010

Next scheduled appearance:

– Unknown

Comment: If we witnessed the final Bellator fight in the career of Eddie Alvarez, he certainly went out with a bang. A war of a first round which saw Alvarez and his opponent, Patricky Freire, both knocked loopy with left hands ended with a head kick to the cranium with under ten seconds left in the round. Alvarez is now a free agent and can negotiate with any promotion willing to talk. What’s unclear is how long the matching period is that Bellator can opt to keep Alvarez. The UFC is interested in Eddie Alvarez and with good reason, he’s one of the most explosive lightweights in the world and people have wanted to see him inside the octagon for years.



9) Pat “Bam Bam” Healy (28-16)

Height: 5’11

Birthday: July 20, 1983

Currently Fighting With: Strikeforce

Last 5 fights:

– vs. Mizuto Hirota – Win via decision (unanimous) – Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy – July 14, 2012

– vs. Caros Fodor – Win via submission (arm-triangle choke) – Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey – March 3, 2012

– vs. Maximo Blanco – Win via submission (rear naked choke) – Strikeforce World Grand Prix: Barnett vs. Kharitonov – September 10, 2011

– vs. Eric Wisely – Win via decision (unanimous) – Strikeforce Challengers: Gurgel vs. Duarte – August 12, 2011

– vs. Lyle Beerbohm – Win via decision (unanimous) – Strikeforce Challengers: Beerbohm vs. Healy – February 18, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

– Unknown



10) Jim Miller (21-4)

Height: 5’8

Birthday: August 30, 1983

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

– vs. Nate Diaz – Loss via submission (guillotine choke) – UFC on Fox: Diaz vs. Miller – May 5, 2012

– vs. Melvin Guillard – Win via submission (rear naked choke) – UFC on FX: Guillard vs. Miller – January 20, 2012

– vs. Ben Henderson – Loss via decision (unanimous) – UFC on Versus: Hardy vs. Lytle – August 14, 2011

– vs. Kamal Shalorus – Win via TKO (strikes) – UFC 128: Shogun vs. Jones – March 19, 2011

– vs. Charles Oliveira – Win via submission (Kneebar) – UFC 124: St. Pierre vs. Koscheck 2 – December 11, 2010

Next scheduled appearance:

– Unknown



11) Joe Lauzon (22-7)

Height: 5’10

Birthday: May 22, 1984

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

– vs. Jamie Varner – Win via submission (triangle choke)- UFC on Fox: Shogun vs. Vera – August 4, 2012

– vs. Anthony Pettis – Loss via KO (head kick) – UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson – February 26, 2012

– vs. Melvin Guillard – Win via submission (rear naked choke) – UFC 136: Edgar vs. Maynard 3 – October 8, 2011

– vs. Curt Warburton – Win via submission (Kimura) – UFC on Versus: Kongo vs. Barry – June 26, 2011

– vs. George Sotiropoulos – Loss via submission (Kimura) – UFC 123: Rampage vs. Machida – November 20, 2010

Next scheduled appearance:

– vs. Gray Maynard – UFC 155: dos Santos vs. Velasquez – December 29, 2012

Comment: Lauzon has not had many opportunities against top 10 lightweights. As a matter of fact, in his 13-fight UFC career, he has fought three fighters considered to be top 10 lightweights. He lost by TKO to Kenny Florian in their bloody war in 2008, he choked out Melvin Guillard at UFC 136 last year and followed it up with the head kick loss to Anthony Pettis in Japan earlier this year.

In December, he’ll get his chance to go .500 in that department against Gray Maynard.



12) Josh Thomson (19-5, 1 No Contest)

Height: 5’10

Birthday: September 21, 1978

Currently Fighting With: Strikeforce

Last 5 fights:

– vs. Gilbert Melendez – Loss via decision (split) – Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Cormier – May 19, 2012

– vs. K.J. Noons – Win via decision (unanimous) – Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey – March 3, 2012

– vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri – Loss via decision (unanimous) – Dynamite!! 2010 – December 31, 2010

– vs. JZ Cavalcante – Win via decision (unanimous) – Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Noons 2 – October 9, 2010

– vs. Pat Healy – Win via submission (rear naked choke) – Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum – June 26, 2010

Next scheduled appearance:

– Unknown



13) Rick Hawn (14-1)

Height: 5’9

Birthday: September 15, 1976

Currently Fighting With: Bellator Fighting Championships

Last 5 fights:

– vs. Brent Weedman – Win via decision (unanimous) – Bellator 70 – May 25, 2012

– vs. Lloyd Woodard – Win via KO (punches) – Bellator 66 – April 20, 2012

– vs. Ricardo Tirloni – Win via KO (punches) – Bellator 62 – March 23, 2012

– vs. Jay Hieron – Loss via decision (split) – Bellator 43 – May 7, 2011

– vs. Lyman Good – Win via decision (split) – Bellator 39 – April 2, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

– vs. Michael Chandler – Bellator – TBA



14) Clay Guida (29-13)

Height: 5’7

Birthday: December 8, 1981

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

– vs. Gray Maynard – Loss via decision (split) – UFC on FX: Maynard vs. Guida – June 22, 2012

– vs. Ben Henderson – Loss via decision (unanimous) – UFC on Fox: Velasquez vs. dos Santos – November 12, 2011

– vs. Anthony Pettis – Win via decision (unanimous) – TUF 13 Finale – June 4, 2011

– vs. Takanori Gomi – Win via submission (Guillotine Choke) – UFC 125: Resolution – January 1, 2011

– vs. Rafael dos Anjos – Win via submission (Injury) – UFC 117: Silva vs. Sonnen – August 7, 2010

Next scheduled appearance:

– Unknown



15) Khabib Nurmagomedov (18-0)

Height: 5’10

Birthday: September 20, 1988

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

– vs. Gleison Tibau – Win via decision (unanimous) – UFC 148: Silva vs. Sonnen 2 – July 7, 2012

– vs. Kamal Shalorus – Win via submission (rear naked choke) – UFC on FX: Guillard vs. Miller – January 20, 2012

– vs. Arymarcel Santos – Win via TKO (strikes) – ProFC 36: Battle on the Caucas – October 22, 2011

– vs. Vadim Sandulitsky – Win via submission (triangle choke) – ProFC/GM Fight: Ukraine Cup 3 – September 15, 2011

– vs. Khamiz Mamedov – Win via submission (triangle choke) – ProFC 30: Battle on Don – August 5, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

– Unknown

Comment: The Eagle makes his 411 MMA Rankings debut with a spot opening up after Frankie Edgar dropped to featherweight. He took his 16-0 record into the UFC this year and has quickly reeled off a pair of wins including one over the tough house of a man, Gleison Tibau.

Final Notes: Frankie Edgar dropped down to featherweight during the summer and will no longer be ranked as a lightweight.

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Jonathan Solomon

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