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411's MMA Rankings 12.18.12: Featherweight Division
Posted by Jonathan Solomon on 12.18.2012






There are two weeks left in 2012 and the featherweight division is charging up to kick things off at that point with a pair of big title fights. Welcome to the 411 MMA Rankings and yes, today we shine the spotlight on the greatest 145-pounders in the world.

Bellator premiers on Spike TV on January 17 with champion Pat Curran defending his gold against Patricio "Pitbull" Freire and not to be outdone, two weeks later, UFC king Jose Aldo will lay his gold on the line against Frankie Edgar. It would be something to see both companies flipped on their lid with new top fighters at the start of the year. Likely? Perhaps not, but do you want to bet against Edgar at this point?

In recent weeks, we have seen a heap of contenders in both companies earn more victories, and look impressive in doing so. In Bellator, it was Marlon Sandro and Daniel Straus laying waste to their opponents. Inside the UFC's octagon, Dustin Poirier returned over the weekend to finish Jonathan Brookins and Dennis Siver outgunned Nam Phan.

The man who was knocked out by Aldo nearly one year ago, Chad Mendes, also returned to continue his victimization of fighters not named Jose. This time, he knocked out UFC newcomer Yaotzin Meza in quick fashion. Even if you don't like him in any match-up against the champion, if he continues to blast opponents, he should get a second chance to take the gold before too long.

One last thing to note, the return of NEW YEAR'S EVE FIGHTING IN JAPAN! Try to contain your excitement, because in 13 days, (while you're throwing back drinks like a sailor) at some point during the day/night (depending on where in the world you live), you'll see a mixed show of kickboxing and MMA. One of the featured fights during the mixed martial arts portion of the show will see Tatsuya Kawajiri fight Michihiro Omigawa. Also, in action is the DREAM champion Hiroyuki Takaya as he'll fight Tachi Palace Fights champion Georgi Karakhanyan.

Now, check out the top 15 featherweights in the world and feel free to drop some knowledge in the Disqus comments section afterward.




Feedback to Last Week's Lightweight Rankings

From 401k:
I just feel like Bisping would be the most technical striker on Weidmans resume and I liked the fact that in a loss Sonnen didn't completely overwhelm him with his wrestling.. One mans opinion though, much respect for you viewpoint.. As for 155, Henderson is a BIG lightweight and keeps getting better.. I thought a guy with Diaz's high level ground game, he would possibly catch a sub as Henderson can get himself into troubling positions.. Oddly enough I think Melendez is stylisticly a better matchup.. Guida was the best wrestler on Melendez record and that was a very close fight.. Henderson brings better wrestling more diverse striking and I dont think Melendez is versed enough to take advantage of the only hole in his game, which is his tendency to get caught (and getting out of) submissions.. Would be a great fight but I'd like Pettis to get his shot..
True, Weidman has not really fought a proficient striker, yet.
Henderson's ability to sometimes get hooked in a tight position only to slowly work his way out is remarkable. Don't think I've seen anyone quite like him who has been doing it for years. Perhaps, at some point, it will catch up to him.
Melendez matches up well in my mind, too. He's a wrestler who likes mixing it up in the clinch, too. I have no clue as to whether Henderson will be able to dictate the pace against him, but I'm just happy we may finally see Gilbert against the top UFC guy.


From mr.415:
Know whats to love about this division? Most of theses guys are young so they should be around for awhile making exciting fights with each other. Even though they have many fights with mostly everybody being under 30, they should be able to stick around for another 5 years, maybe I hope so. Also think Cerrone would have picked up a few tricks more being born in 2983 :) thus being a time traveler.
It will be interesting to see if they hotshot Gil that title shot, its not like he beat Thompson in a clean cut discision, I had Thompson winning it along with others, and remember there was a call for a possiblity of a 4th fight because of how close it was.
Even MORE reason to love watching Cerrone fight. :)
To be honest, neither of Gil's most recent fights were overly impressive. The decision against Jorge Masvidal was not close by any means, but I'll lean more to attributing that to Masvidal's toughness. And the Thomson fight (I scored it for Josh, by the way) was another war between the two.
If Melendez is healthy next year, I can't see Joe Silva & Dana doing anything other than putting him in there with Henderson. The only other option (logical option...) is if Pettis looks like a beast next month. Either way, the lightweight division looks pretty good for 2013.




Thanks for he comments and questions, it is all, always welcome and appreciated!






Rankings From One Year Ago
01.17.12


1. Jose Aldo

2. Hatsu Hioki

3. Chad Mendes

4. Pat Curran

5. Joe Warren

6. Dustin Poirier

7. Marlon Sandro

8. Chan Sung-Jung

8. Patricio Freire

10. Mark Hominick

11. Diego Nunes

12. Erik Koch

13. Hiroyuki Takaya

14. Bart Palaszewski

15. Tatsuya Kawajiri







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.



* denotes a statistical tie.







411's Official MMA Rankings


Featherweight Division (145 lbs)






1) Jose Aldo (21-1)


Height: 5'7

Birthday: September 9, 1986

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Chad Mendes - Win via KO (knee) - UFC 142: Aldo vs. Mendes - January 14, 2012

- vs. Kenny Florian - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 136: Edgar vs. Maynard 3 - October 8, 2011

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

- vs. Manny Gamburyan - Win via KO (punches) - WEC 51: Aldo vs. Gamburyan - September 30, 2010

- vs. Urijah Faber - Win via decision (unanimous) - WEC 48: Aldo vs. Faber - April 24, 2010

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Frankie Edgar - UFC 156: Aldo vs. Edgar - February 2, 2013

Comment: Super Bowl weekend features the return of Jose Aldo who due to injuries has will not have fought in over a year. Remember, the last time we saw him, he blasted Chad Mendes in Brazil with a fierce head kick to retain the UFC championship. Is Frankie Edgar his toughest competition so far? After all, the New Jersey native has never been knocked out (albeit, he's been close on a few occasions) and he has a knack for fighting to close decisions. If Aldo is to remain champion, his best bet may be to outright finish Edgar and not risk it going to the judges.




2) Pat Curran (17-4)


Height: 5'9

Birthday: August 31, 1987

Currently Fighting With: Bellator Fighting Championships

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Joe Warren - Win via KO (strikes) - Bellator 60 - March 9, 2012

- vs. Marlon Sandro - Win via KO (head kick) - Bellator 48 - August 20, 2011

- vs. Ronnie Mann - Win via decision (unanimous) - Bellator 47 - July 23, 2011

- vs. Luis Palomino - Win via submission (Peruvian necktie) - Bellator 46 - June 25, 2011

- vs. Eddie Alvarez - Loss via decision (unanimous) - Bellator 39 - April 2, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Pitbull Freire - Bellator 85 - January 17, 2013

Comment: Can you hear that? It's the sound of Bellator's debut on Spike TV come January 17. The promotion announced the first two cards next month and we now know the featherweight title fight pitting Curran against Patricio Freire will lead off opening night. This is a fight that's been delayed on a number of occasions because of injuries to both men. In fact, Curran is just now back from a fractured orbital bone suffered over the summer. Since dropping to featherweight last year, he's emerged as the best 145-pounder not under contract to the UFC, and with good reason. His versatile skills to end fights on the ground, standing or remain dangerous deep in a fight, nobody has come close to beating him since then-lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez pounded on him for 25-minutes. Pitbull will try to do the same.




3) Chad Mendes (13-1)


Height: 5'6

Birthday: May 1, 1985

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Yaotzin Meza - Win via KO (punches) - UFC on FX 6: Sotiropoulos vs. Pearson - December 14, 2012

- vs. Cody McKenzie - Win via KO (body punch) - UFC 148: Silva vs. Sonnen 2 - July 7, 2012

- vs. Jose Aldo - Loss via KO (knee) - UFC 142: Aldo vs. Mendes - January 14, 2012

- vs. Rani Yahya - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 133: Evans vs. Ortiz - August 6, 2011

- vs. Michihiro Omigawa - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 126: Silva vs. Belfort - February 5, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: Fighting Meza on short notice (Mendes' previous opponent pulled out of the original fight), we saw another quick knockout courtesy of the Team Alpha Male product. He's fought a pair of unranked featherweights, so it's tough to see whether he has improved so much so that he could pose problems for Aldo if they were to ever fight again.




4) "The Korean Zombie" Chan Sung-Jung (16-3)


Height: 5'9

Birthday: March 17, 1987

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Dustin Poirier - Win via submission (D'arce choke) - UFC on Fuel: Korean Zombie vs. Poirier - May 15, 2012

- vs. Mark Hominick - Win via KO (strikes) - UFC 140: Jones vs. Machida - December 10, 2011

- vs. Leonard Garcia - Win via submission (twister) - UFC Fight Night: Nogueira vs. Davis - March 26, 2011

- vs. George Roop - Loss via KO (head kick) - WEC 51: Aldo vs. Gamburyan - September 30, 2010

- vs. Leonard Garcia- Loss via decision (split) - WEC 48: Aldo vs. Faber - April 24, 2010

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: There's no official word but we do know Darren Elkins was hoping to get a fight with the Korean Zombie on the next Fox show in Chicago. Whether that happens or not, expect Jung to be the next championship contender (well, unless we end up in another situation featuring a championship rematch involving Frankie Edgar).




5) Patricio "Pitbull" Freire (17-1)


Height: 5'5

Birthday: July 7, 1987

Currently Fighting With: Bellator Fighting Championships

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Daniel Straus - Win via decision (unanimous) - Bellator 45 - May 21, 2011

- vs. Wilson Reis - Win via KO (strikes) - Bellator 41 - April 16, 2011

- vs. Georgi Karakhanyan -Win via TKO (strikes) - Bellator 37 - March 19, 2011

- vs. Joe Warren - Loss via decision (split) - Bellator 23 - June 24, 2010

- vs. Wilson Reis - Win via decision (unanimous) - Bellator 18 - May 13, 2010

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Pat Curran - Bellator 85 - January 17, 2013

Comment: It's been 19 months since Pitbull last fought, winning a Bellator tournament, title shot and $100,000. Now, he's putting the finishing touches on a training camp for his first shot at the Bellator championship. The tough Brazilian has never been finished in his career and if not for a split decision loss to Joe Warren, he would have earned a title shot over two years ago. With so much time off, how much of an impact will ring rust have on January 17?




6) Erik Koch (13-1)


Height: 5'10

Birthday: October 4, 1988

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Jonathan Brookins - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC Fight Night: Shields vs. Ellenberger - September 17, 2011

- vs. Raphael Assuncao - Win via KO (punch) - UFC 128: Shogun vs. Jones - March 19, 2011

- vs. Francisco Rivera - Win via TKO (head kick & punches) - WEC 52: Faber vs. Mizugaki - November 11, 2010

- vs. Bendy Casimir - Win via submission (triangle choke) - WEC 49: Varner vs. Shalorus - June 20, 2010

- vs. Chad Mendes - Loss via decision (unanimous) - WEC 47: Bowles vs. Cruz - March 6, 2010

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Ricardo Lamas - UFC on Fox: Johnson vs. Dodson - January 26, 2013

Comment: At one point, originally scheduled to fight Jose Aldo earlier this year, he suffered an injury and lost out on the opportunity. In his return, he'll fight on network TV next month against the red hot Ricardo Lamas. If he's to make any effort to secure a UFC title shot, he'll have to look awfully impressive to leap frog the Korean Zombie in the minds of UFC brass.




7) Ricardo Lamas (12-2)


Height: 5'8

Birthday: May 21, 1982

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Hatsu Hioki - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC on FX: Maynard vs. Guida - June 22, 2012

- vs. Cub Swanson - Win via submission (arm-triangle choke) - UFC on Fox: Velasquez vs. dos Santos - November 12, 2011

- vs. Matt Grice - Win via TKO (head kick) - UFC on Versus: Kongo vs. Barry - June 26, 2011

- vs. Yuri Alcantara - Loss via KO (strikes) - WEC 53: Henderson vs. Pettis - December 16, 2010

- vs. Dave Jansen - Win via decision (unanimous) - WEC 50: Cruz vs. Benavidez - August 18, 2010

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Erik Koch - UFC on Fox: Johnson vs. Dodson - January 26, 2013

Comment: Lamas only fought once this year but it was a big win as he knocked off #2 ranked Hatsu Hioki in June. Thanks to that win, along with his two previous impressive victories in the UFC, he's earned a spot on the Fox card against Erik Koch. If his momentum is to continue, Ricardo could play spoiler yet again.




8) Tatsuya Kawajiri (31-7-2)


Height: 5'7

Birthday: May 8, 1978

Currently Fighting With: One Fighting Championship

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Donald Sanchez - Win via submission (triangle choke) - ONE Fighting Championship: War of the Lions - March 21, 2012

- vs. Kazuyuki Miyata - Win via submission (arm triangle choke) - DREAM: Fight For Japan 2011 - December 31, 2011

- vs. Joachim Hansen - Win via submission (arm triangle choke) - DREAM 17 - September 24, 2011

- vs. Drew Fickett - Win via TKO (strikes) - DREAM: Japan GP Final - July 16, 2011

- vs. Gilbert Melendez - Loss via TKO (elbows) - Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley - April 9, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Michihiro Omigawa - DREAM 18 / GLORY 4 - December 31, 2012

Comment: Announced recently for the final show of the year in Japan, is a featherweight bout pitting Kawajiri against Omigawa. Since moving to 145-pounds, Tatsuya has looked stronger than ever and he's the clear favorite on New Year's Eve against a guy who is 1-4 in his last five fights in the UFC.




9) Daniel Straus (21-4)


Height: 5'8

Birthday: July 27, 1984

Currently Fighting With: Bellator Fighting Championships

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Alvin Robinson - Win via submission (rear naked choke) - Bellator 78 - October 26, 2012

- vs. Marlon Sandro - Win via decision (unanimous) - Bellator 68 - May 11, 2012

- vs. Mike Corey - Win via decision (unanimous) - Bellator 65 - April 13, 2012

- vs. Jeremy Spoon - Win via decision (unanimous) - Bellator 60 - March 9, 2012

- vs. Jason Dent - Win via decision (unanimous) - NAAFS: Caged Fury 15 - October 15, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: Straus is next in line for a Bellator title shot, but he returned to the cage in October in a non-tournament fight. Against Alvin Robinson, he earned his first submission win in over a year since he choked out Kenny Foster in the season four semifinals.




10) Hatsu Hioki (26-5-2)


Height: 5'11

Birthday: July 18, 1983

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Ricardo Lamas - Loss via decision (unanimous) - UFC on FX: Maynard vs. Guida - June 22, 2012

- vs. Bart Palaszewski - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson - February 26, 2012

- vs. George Roop - Win via decision (split) - UFC 137: Penn vs. Diaz - October 29, 2011

- vs. Donald Sanchez - Win via submission (triangle choke) - Shooto Tradition 2011 - April 29, 2011

- vs. Marlon Sandro - Win via decision (unanimous) - Sengoku: Soul of Fight - December 30, 2010

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Clay Guida - UFC on Fox: Johnson vs. Dodson - January 26, 2013

Comment: Hioki wanted a fight before challenging Jose Aldo and unfortunately for him, he ended up on the losing end of it. If he's to have any chance in the future, he must beat the featherweight-newcomer, Clay Guida. Both men are noted grapplers, so be on the look out to see how Guida prepares to fight Hatsu, knowing his bread and butter is the submission game.




11) Dennis Siver (21-8)


Birthday: January 13, 1979

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Nam Phan - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC on Fox: Henderson vs. Diaz - December 8, 2012

- vs. Diego Nunes - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC on Fuel: Gustafsson vs. Silva - April 14, 2012

- vs. Donald Cerrone - Loss via submission (rear naked choke) - UFC 137: Penn vs. Diaz - October 29, 2011

- vs. Matt Wiman - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 132: Cruz vs. Faber - July 2, 2011

- vs. George Sotiropoulos - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 127: Fitch vs. Penn - February 27, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Cub Swanson - UFC on Fuel: Barao vs. McDonald - February 16, 2013

Comment: Impressive much? Yes, Dennis Siver looked great 10 days ago when he essentially dominated Nam Phan for three rounds en route to his second win in this division. He was immediately booked in a new fight in February, too, against a brawler in Cub Swanson.




12) Dustin Poirier (13-2)


Height: 5'9

Birthday: January 19, 1989

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Jonathan Brookins - Win via submission (D'arce choke) - UFC TUF 16 Finale - December 15, 2012

- vs. Chan Sung Jung - Loss via submission (D'arce choke) - UFC on Fuel: Korean Zombie vs. Poirier - May 15, 2012

- vs. Max Holloway - Win via submission (mounted triangle armbar) - UFC 143: Diaz vs. Condit - February 4, 2012

- vs. Pablo Garza - Win via submission (D'Arce choke) - UFC on Fox: Velasquez vs. dos Santos - November 12, 2011

- vs. Jason Young - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 131: dos Santos vs. Carwin - June 11, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: You couldn't have a much better return to the octagon than Dustin Poirier had over the weekend. He submitted Jonathan Brookins with the same move he lost to in May against the Korean Zombie. When a fighter is finished for the first time in his career, it's a positive sign to see them make a statement as Dustin did.




13) Cub Swanson (18-5)


Height: 5'7

Birthday: November 2, 1983

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Charles Oliveira - Win via KO (punch) - UFC 152: Jones vs. Belfort - September 22, 2012

- vs. Ross Pearson - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC on FX: Maynard vs. Guida - June 22, 2012

- vs. George Roop - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC on Fox: Evans vs. Davis - January 28, 2012

- vs. Ricardo Lamas - Loss via submission (arm triangle choke) - UFC on Fox: Velasquez vs. dos Santos - November 12, 2011

- vs. Mackens Semerzier - Win via decision (split) - WEC 52: Faber vs. Mizugaki - November 11, 2010

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Dennis Siver - UFC on Fuel: Barao vs. McDonald - February 16, 2013

Comment: Swanson is on the best run of his career, earning three consecutive wins in the UFC by KO/TKO. Up next is the toughest challenge of them all because Swanson is a powerful striker who is more than comfortable grinding out wins on the ground. Swanson must be able to keep the fight standing and aim to finish.




14) Marlon Sandro (23-4)


Height: 5'8

Birthday: March 8, 1977

Currently Fighting With: Bellator Fighting Championships

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Dustin Neace - Win via technical submission (rear naked choke) - Bellator 81 - November 16, 2012

- vs. Daniel Straus - Loss via decision (unanimous) - Bellator 68 - May 11, 2012

- vs. Alexandre Popo Bezerra - Win via decision (split) - Bellator 64 - April 6, 2012

- vs. Roberto Vargas - Win via submission (rear naked choke) - Bellator 60 - March 9 ,2012

- vs. Rafael Dias - Win via submission (arm triangle choke) - Bellator 58 - November 19, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: Sandro earned himself a spot in the season eight tournament by choking out Dustin Neace last month. Will his third attempt at a Bellator tournament championship be the charm?




15*) Robert Peralta (16-3)


Height: 5'7

Birthday: 1985

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Jason Young - Win via KO (punch) - UFC on Fuel: Struve vs. Miocic

- vs. Mackens Semerzier - DRAW (accidental headbutt) - UFC on Fox: Velasquez vs. dos Santos - November 12, 2011

- vs. Mike Lullo - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC Fight Night: Shields vs. Ellenberger - September 17, 2011

- vs. Hiroyuki Takaya - Win via decision (split) - Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley - April 9, 2011

- vs. Chris Kirtley - Win via submission (triangle choke) - Gladiator Challenge: Legends Collide 2 - February 20, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown





Final Notes: New to 145-pounds, Frankie Edgar and Clay Guida will be eligible for these rankings after their debuts.





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