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411's MMA Rankings 09.03.13: Lightweight Division
Posted by Jonathan Solomon on 09.03.2013





August ended with a bang in the lightweight division and as summer '13 is only three weeks from ending, too, let's take a brief look back at Benson Henderson's UFC title reign.

Welcome to the 411 MMA Rankings, each week our staff butts heads and ranks the best 15 fighters in a particular division. You tell us where we messed up, we have no explanation and the sun rises the next day -- the usual.

Henderson emerged as the top 155-pounder thanks to his two narrow decision wins against Frankie Edgar last year. Next, he dominated Nate Diaz over five more rounds before once again, coming out on top of a split decision against Gilbert Melendez. Some pegged him the Georges St. Pierre of the lightweights in reference to his inability to finish fights. Now, Henderson is left to think about how he fell short, again, against Anthony Pettis -- three years after their classic WEC battle.

Anthony Pettis put him down with an armbar, showcasing his skills that are not only reliant on powerful kicks and agility. While the new UFC lightweight champion laid down a challenge to featherweight champ Jose Aldo, pending the health of his knee, it's safe to assume we'll see a third fight with Henderson first. Of course, future challengers at lightweight include T.J. Grant and Josh Thomson, among others, so there is no absence of fights for Showtime.

Outside the UFC, Bellator dropped news last month announcing the return of their former champion Eddie Alvarez. He will be back on November 2 to challenge Michael Chandler, who many consider to be one of the best two or three fighters in the entire division. Their first fight in November 2011 was nothing short of a classic with both men exchanging big shots until Chandler finished Alvarez late in the fight. Can they duplicate that awesome first clash? Doubtful, but a la Henderson/Pettis 2, their rematch should be plenty explosive on PPV in under two months time.


Thanks for reading and be sure to drop a comment beneath the article about anything on your mind -- or you know, lightweights in MMA!




RANKINGS FROM ONE YEAR AGO
08.14.12


1. Benson Henderson

2. Nate Diaz

3. Frankie Edgar

4. Gilbert Melendez

5. Gray Maynard

6. Anthony Pettis

6. Michael Chandler

8. Donald Cerrone

9. Eddie Alvarez

10. Pat Healy

11. Jim Miller

12. Joe Lauzon

13. Josh Thomson

14. Rick Hawn

15. Clay Guida





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) "Showtime" Anthony Pettis (16-2)


Height: 5'9

Birthday: January 27, 1987

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Benson Henderson - Win via submission (armbar) - UFC 164: Henderson vs. Pettis 2 - August 31, 2013

- vs. Donald Cerrone - Win via TKO (liver kick) - UFC on Fox: Johnson vs. Dodson - January 26, 2013

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: Showtime! Pettis looks incredible over these past three fights of his and this includes stretches where he's been forced out of action/training with injuries. Be that as it may, he has a punishing assortment of kicks as we've seen over each of his last three wins and oh yeah, he can also finish fights from his guard. Only 26-years-old, will he have a long run as champion? We already know he has Benson's number, but his sights may already be set on featherweight champion Jose Aldo, who he challenged after winning on Saturday.

Hopefully, Pettis' knee does not prove to be seriously injured because after the fight, there was talk he felt something wrong during the fight. He is scheduled to undergo an MRI later today.




2) Benson "Smooth" Henderson (19-3)


Height: 5'9

Birthday: November 16, 1983

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Anthony Pettis - Loss via submission (armbar) - UFC 164: Henderson vs. Pettis 2 - August 31, 2013

- vs. Gilbert Melendez - Win via decision (split) - UFC on Fox: Henderson vs. Melendez - April 20, 2013

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

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

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

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: Nobody expected Benson to lose as he did. He ate several kicks and punches to the body, but when Pettis ended up on the ground off of a flashy kick attempt, the now-former-champion pounced on his prey. However, it proved to be his undoing as he was caught in an armbar and was forced to verbally submit before Pettis did significant damage to his limb.

Now, Henderson goes down in the books with the likes of B.J. Penn and Frankie Edgar, who both saw their title reigns end after three defenses, too.




3) Gilbert "El Nino" Melendez (21-3)


Height: 5'9

Birthday: April 12, 1982

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Benson Henderson - Loss via decision (split) - UFC on Fox: Henderson vs. Melendez - April 20, 2013

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Diego Sanchez - UFC 166: Velasquez vs. JDS 3 - October 19, 2013

Comment: Melendez will return to action next month in San Jose against Diego Sanchez - an awesome match-up on paper between two men who are generally non-stop action in their fights.




4) Michael Chandler (12-0)


Height: 5'8

Birthday: April 24, 1986

Currently Fighting With: Bellator Fighting Championship

Last 5 fights:

- vs. David Rickels - Win via KO (punches) - Bellator 97 - July 31, 2013

- vs. Rick Hawn - Win via submission (rear naked choke) - Bellator 85 - January 17, 2013

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Eddie Alvarez - Bellator MMA - November 2, 2013

Comment: Chandler demolished his latest challenger in David Rickels earlier this summer and is now preparing for his third defense, against the man he beat to become champion in Eddie Alvarez. Another win over one of the men perennially considered to be one of the top 155-pounders should make for an interesting debate as to whether Chandler or Melendez should be in the top three.




5) T.J. Grant (21-5)


Height: 5'11

Birthday: February 26, 1984

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Gray Maynard - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC 160: Velasquez vs. Bigfoot 2 - May 25, 2013

- vs. Matt Wiman - Win via KO (strikes) - UFC on Fox: Johnson vs. Dodson - January 26, 2013

- vs. Evan Dunham - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 152: Jones vs. Beflort - September 22, 2012

- vs. Carlo Prater - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC on Fuel: Jung vs. Poirier - May 15, 2012

- vs. Shane Roller - Win via technical submission (armbar) - UFC on Versus: Cruz vs. Johnson - October 1, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown




6) Josh "The Punk" Thomson (20-5, 1 No Contest)


Height: 5'10

Birthday: September 21, 1978

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Nate Diaz - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC on Fox: Henderson vs. Melendez - April 20, 2013

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown





7) Rafael dos Anjos (20-6)


Height: 5'9

Birthday: October 26, 1984

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Donald Cerrone - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 164: Henderson vs. Pettis 2 - August 31, 2013

- vs. Evan Dunham - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC on FX: Belfort vs. Rockhold - May 18, 2013

- vs. Mark Bocek - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 154: St. Pierre vs. Condit - November 17, 2012

- vs. Anthony Njokuani - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC on Fuel: Munoz vs. Weidman - July 11, 2012

- vs. Kamal Shalorus - Win via submission (rear naked choke) - UFC on Fuel: Korean Zombie vs. Poirier - May 15, 2012

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: Rafael is now on a five-fight win streak and knocked off Cowboy Cerrone in Milwaukee on Saturday. Can he keep his momentum flowing as he should continue receiving fights against top 10ish lightweights now, that's the question.




8) Pat "Bam Bam" Healy (29-16, 1 NC)


Height: 5'11

Birthday: July 20, 1983

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Jim Miller - No Contest - UFC 159: Jones vs. Sonnen - April 27, 2013

- vs. Kurt Holobaugh - Win via decision (unanimous) - Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine - January 12, 2013

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov - UFC 165: Jones vs. Gustafsson - September 21, 2013





9) Jim Miller (22-4, 1 NC)


Height: 5'8

Birthday: August 30, 1983

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Pat Healy - No Contest - UFC 159: Jones vs. Sonnen - April 27, 2013

- vs. Joe Lauzon - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 155: dos Santos vs. Velasquez 2 - December 29, 2012

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown





10) Gray Maynard (11-2-1, 1 NC)


Height: 5'8

Birthday: May 9, 1979

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 6 fights:

- vs. T.J. Grant - Loss via TKO (strikes) - UFC 160: Velasquez vs. Bigfoot 2 - May 25, 2013

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown





11) Eddie Alvarez (24-3)


Birthday: November 11, 1984

Currently Fighting With: Bellator MMA

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:

- vs. Michael Chandler - Bellator MMA - November 2, 2013

Comment: Alvarez has officially re-upped with Bellator and will be on the PPV this November where he will have the opportunity to avenge his famous loss to Michael Chandler. Added to the intrigue is the fact that should Eddie lose, he will be let out of his Bellator contract. However, if he scores the victory, expect a trilogy between the two.




12) Nate Diaz (16-9)


Height: 6'0

Birthday: April 16, 1985

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Josh Thomson - Loss via TKO (strikes) - UFC on Fox: Henderson vs. Melendez - April 20, 2013

- vs. Benson Henderson - Loss via decision (unanimous) - UFC on Fox: Henderson vs. Diaz - December 8, 2012

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown





13) Khabib Nurmagomedov (20-0)


Height: 5'10

Birthday: September 20, 1988

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Abel Trujillo - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 160: Velasquez vs. Bigfoot 2 - May 25, 2013

- vs. Thiago Tavares - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC on FX: Bisping vs. Belfort - January 19, 2013

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Pat Healy - UFC 165: Jones vs. Gustafsson - September 21, 2013





14) "Cowboy" Donald Cerrone (20-6, 1 NC)


Height: 6'

Birthday: March 29, 2983

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Rafael dos Anjos - Loss via decision (unanimous) - UFC 164: Henderson vs. Pettis 2 - August 31, 2013

- vs. K.J. Noons - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 160: Velasquez vs. Bigfoot 2 - May 25, 2013

- vs. Anthony Pettis - Loss via TKO (liver kick) - UFC on Fox: Johnson vs. Dodson - January 26, 2013

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown





15) Gleison Tibau (28-9)


Height: 5'10

Birthday: July 10, 1983

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Jamie Varner - Win via decision (split) - UFC 164: Henderson vs. Pettis 2 - August 31, 2013

- vs. John Cholish - Win via submission (guillotine choke) - UFC on FX: Belfort vs. Rockhold - May 18, 2013

- vs. Evan Dunham - Loss via decision (split) - UFC 156: Aldo vs. Edgar - February 2, 2013

- vs. Francisco Trinaldo - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 153: Silva vs. Bonnar - October 13, 2012

- vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov - Loss via decision (unanimous) - UFC 148: Silva vs. Sonnen 2 - July 7, 2012

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: Tibau may have been losing his wind in the third round, but he did enough before then to earn a split decision win over Jamie Varner this weekend.









Final Notes: Shinya Aoki, Myles Jury, Jorge Masvidal, Dave Jansen and Jamie Varner received additional votes.





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