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411's MMA Rankings 11.12.13: Featherweight Division
Posted by Jonathan Solomon on 11.12.2013






It's Tuesday, it may be snowing or it may be balmy depending on where you live, but either way, it's time for the weekly 411 MMA Rankings! This week, we'll shine the spotlight on the featherweight division that has seen a significant change recently while the bulk of the 145'ers are still under rule of Jose Aldo.

Before all that, here's to a belated Happy Veterans Day for our readers who have served in the military or know someone close to you who is/have done so.

Running away from real world issues and to the open arms of combat sports, the top story in this division has to be the fact that Bellator has a brand new champion. As of 10 days ago, Pat Curran's long and impressive reign came to a screeching halt thanks to Daniel Straus. The wrestler has had a turbulent year between an arrest (on drug charges he insists was more about being in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong people) and an injury which postponed the title fight some months ago. It appears those legal issues are behind him and obviously, his health is no longer in question, and a big banner with his face on it now adorns Bellator arenas.

What's that? A title switch in the featherweight division?

Such a thing is foreign to the UFC who have seen Jose Aldo with their championship ever since they brought the division over from WEC. While the likelihood is strong that we'll see the Brazilian change weight classes before anyone on this list below actually beats him, that doesn't mean a guy like Ricardo Lamas can't strike and shock the world. He'll get his chance in February when they fight in the co-main event in New Jersey (underneath the bantamweight title unification bout between Dominick Cruz and Renan Barao).

Looking ahead, the next fight with a top 15 fighter will take place this Friday night on Spike TV as Pitbull Freire and Justin Wilcox battle in the finals of Bellator's season nine tournament. After that, the UFC takes center stage in December through February as six ranked fighters will see action during that span. Check out the ranking below to find out who they are (and realize some of them are probably being forced to forego Thanksgiving Day meals due to training camps).

Lastly, while this fight seems like it's never going to come to fruition, it's still just six months away: Frankie Edgar vs. B.J. Penn. Their third scrap will either give the legendary Hawaiian yet another breath of life in his career, or perhaps it may truly be his final professional bout. Either way, when the two men fight in April, you almost cannot help yourself but imagine a situation where Penn stops Edgar and automatically is right in the title picture in the second half of 2014. Yes, consider this the EARLY EARLY EARLY rumblings about a fight with B.J. and Jose Aldo…because why the hell not?


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Rankings From One Year Ago
12.18.12


1. Jose Aldo

2. Pat Curran

3. Chad Mendes

4. Chan Sung Jung

5. Patricio Freire

6. Erik Koch

7. Ricardo Lamas

8. Tatsuya Kawajiri

9. Daniel Straus

10. Hatsu Hioki

11. Dennis Siver

12. Dustin Poirier

13. Cub Swanson

14. Marlon Sandro

15. Robert Peralta








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 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? Chat it up in the comments section below bringing up any and all points you can think of.






411's Official MMA Rankings


Featherweight Division (145 lbs)






1) Jose Aldo (23-1)


Height: 5'7

Birthday: September 9, 1986

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Chan Sung Jung - Win via TKO (punches) - UFC 163: Aldo vs. Korean Zombie - August 3, 2013

- vs. Frankie Edgar - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 156: Aldo vs. Edgar - February 2, 2013

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Ricardo Lamas - UFC 169: Cruz vs. Barao - February 1, 2014

Comment: While Aldo has a jump up to lightweight on his mind, his immediate future should be focused around the upcoming challenge of Ricardo Lamas in February. On Super Bowl weekend, Aldo will be expected to dominate another contender and questions would then rise about what's next for one of the best in the world. A win over Lamas means he'll have beaten every top UFC featherweight contender (Mendes, Zombie, Edgar and Swanson) and combined with his hatred for weight cutting, logic stands to reason that 2014 may be the year that he switches divisions.




2) Chad Mendes (15-1)


Height: 5'6

Birthday: May 1, 1985

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Clay Guida - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC 164: Henderson vs. Pettis 2 - August 31, 2013

- vs. Darren Elkins - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC on FOX 7: Henderson vs. Melendez - April 20, 2013

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Nik Lentz - UFC on Fox: Johnson vs. Benavidez - December 14, 2013

Comment: With the turn of events in Bellator, Mendes is back in the silver medal spot. Since he lost to Aldo almost two years ago, he has stormed through opponents left and right, finishing each of the four fights he's had. His next fight is set for the UFC on Fox show in one month's time, where he'll look to knock Nik Lentz off the wagon.




3) Cub Swanson (20-5)


Height: 5'7

Birthday: November 2, 1983

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Dennis Siver - Win via TKO (punches) - UFC 162: Silva vs. Weidman - July 6, 2013

- vs. Dustin Poirier - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC on Fuel: Barao vs. McDonald - February 16, 2013

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: Swanson may be one of the hottest fighters in the division, but he's been watching from New Mexico how it appears everyone else has been signed to fights. He is training at Greg Jackson's gym, but is still waiting to learn when/who he'll fight next. He hoped to fight Ricardo Lamas but the UFC planned otherwise and now, the only other top contender without a fight scheduled (and who is healthy) is Darren Elksin.




4) Ricardo Lamas (13-2)


Height: 5'8

Birthday: May 21, 1982

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Erik Koch - Win via TKO (elbows and punches) - UFC on Fox: Johnson vs. Dodson - January 26, 2013

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Jose Aldo - UFC 169: Cruz vs. Barao - February 1, 2014

Comment: Lamas has felt he's been deserving of a title fight ever since he finished Erik Koch ten months ago. Fights have fallen to the wayside since then, but patience has paid off because he has his shot at Jose Aldo in just three more months.




5) Frankie Edgar (16-4-1)


Height: 5'6

Birthday: October 16, 1981

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 6 fights:

- vs. Charles Oliveira - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 162: Silva vs. Weidman - July 6, 2013

- vs. Jose Aldo - Loss via decision (unanimous) - UFC 156: Aldo vs. Edgar - February 2, 2013

- vs. Benson Henderson - Loss via decision (split) - UFC 150: Henderson vs. Edgar - August 11, 2012

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

- vs. Gray Maynard - Win via KO (punches) - UFC 136: Edgar vs. Maynard 3 - October 8, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. B.J. Penn - UFC - Spring 2014





6) Daniel Straus (22-4)


Height: 5'8

Birthday: July 27, 1984

Currently Fighting With: Bellator MMA

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Pat Curran - Win via decision (unanimous) - Bellator 106 - November 2, 2013

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: The new Bellator featherweight champion, Daniel Straus upset Pat Curran on their big November 2nd show by unanimous decision. The fight wasn't even close to the point it would have been a shocker if the title didn't change. Straus was able to control Curran with his grinding wrestling pace, a style that has served him well in Bellator.




7) Pat Curran (19-5)


Height: 5'9

Birthday: August 31, 1987

Currently Fighting With: Bellator MMA

Last 5 fights:

- vs Daniel Straus - Loss via decision (unanimous) - Bellator 106 - November 2, 2013

- vs. Shahbulat Shamhalaev - Win via submission (guillotine choke) - Bellator 95 - April 4, 2013

- vs. Patricio Freire - Win via decision (split) - Bellator 85 - January 17, 2013

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: Curran's great run at 145-pounds saw its first hurdle this month as he suffered his only loss at this weight. We've seen him knock quality fighters out and overwhelm some, but he was unable to get going against Straus and over five rounds, it proved frustrating for the former champion. Expect Pat to be the favorite in the next featherweight tournament, which should begin sometime in the spring.




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


Height: 5'9

Birthday: March 17, 1987

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Jose Aldo - Loss via TKO (punches) - UFC 163: Aldo vs. Korean Zombie - August 3, 2013

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown





9) Patricio "Pitbull" Freire (20-2)


Height: 5'5

Birthday: July 7, 1987

Currently Fighting With: Bellator MMA

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Fabricio Guerreiro - Win via decision (unanimous) - Bellator 103 - October 11, 2013

- vs. Diego Nunes - WIn via KO (punch) - Bellator 99 - September 13, 2013

- vs. Jared Downing - WIn via TKO (punches) - Bellator 97 - July 31, 2013

- vs. Pat Curran - Loss via decision (split) - Bellator 85 - January 17, 2013

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

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Justin Wilcox - Bellator 108 - November 15, 2013

Comment: Pitbull earned a spot in the season nine finals by beating Fabricio Guerreiro last month and that fight will take place this Friday night. He'll meet former Strikeforce contender Justin Wilcox with $100,000 and a guaranteed title fight on the line. He was likely hoping for the opportunity to avenge his loss to Pat Curran, but I doubt he's losing any sleep over the fact that Straus is the man in the catbird seat at the moment.




10) Nik "The Carny" Lentz (24-5-2, 1 NC)


Height: 5'8

Birthday: August 13, 1984

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Hacran Dias - WIn via decision (unanimous) - UFC on FX: Belfort vs. Rockhold - May 18, 2013

- vs. Diego Nunes - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC on FX: Belfort vs. Bisping - January 19, 2013

- vs. Eiji Mitsuoka - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC 150: Henderson vs. Edgar 2 - August 11, 2012

- vs. Evan Dunham - Loss via TKO (doctor stoppage) - UFC on FOX: Evans vs. Davis - January 28, 2012

- vs. Mark Bocek - Loss via decision (unanimous) - UFC 140: Jones vs. Machida - December 10, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Chad Mendes - UFC on Fox: Johnson vs. Benavidez - December 14, 2013

Comment: Lentz has received a lot of flack over the years for his penchant of winning fights by decisions. Through it all, he's won a lot more than not and has signed to fight Chad Mendes next month. Although he's expected to lose against the stronger wrestler, this opportunity may launch him into the top five with a great performance. Imagine that, Nik Lentz, a top five featherweight….?






11) Dustin Poirier (14-3)


Height: 5'9

Birthday: January 19, 1989

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

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

- vs. Cub Swanson - Loss via decision (unanimous) - UFC on Fuel: Barao vs. McDonald - February 16, 2013

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Diego Brandao - UFC 168: Weidman vs. Silva 2 - December 28, 2013

Comment: Signed for the big UFC 168 event in Las Vegas to close out the year, Poirier will take on Brazilian Diego Brandao. While Poirier will look for his first winning streak since early 2012, he'll have to bring an end to Brandao's three-fight winning streak to do it. Dustin will have to prevent himself from becoming a stepping stone for his opponent next month because a win for Diego and he'll almost certainly take this spot in the first featherweight 411 MMA Rankings of 2014.




12) Darren Elkins (17-3)


Height: 5'10

Birthday: May 16, 1984

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Hatsu Hioki - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC Fight Night: Condit vs. Kampmann 2 - August 28, 2013

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

- vs. Antonio Carvalho - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC 158: GSP vs. Diaz - March 16, 2013

- vs. Steven Siler - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 154: GSP vs. Condit - November 17, 2012

- vs. Diego Brandao - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 146: JDS vs. Mir - May 26, 2012

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown





13) Magomedrasul "Frodo" Khasbulaev (21-5)


Height: 5'6

Birthday: October 23, 1986

Currently Fighting With: Bellator MMA

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Mike Richman - Win via decision (unanimous) - Bellator 95 - April 4, 2013

- vs. Marlon Sandro - Win via TKO (strikes) - Bellator 92 - March 7, 2013

- vs. Fabricio Guerreiro - Win via submission (arm triangle choke) - Bellator 88 - February 7, 2013

- vs. Josh Pulsifer - Win via submission (rear naked choke) - Bellator 79 - November 2, 2012

- vs. Nayeb Hezam - WIn via KO (punch) - Bellator 76 - October 12, 2012

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: Frodo is expected to be Straus' first challenger in 2014.




14) Georgi Karakhanyan (22-3-10


Height: 5'8

Birthday: May 29, 1985

Currently Fighting With: World Series of Fighting

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Waylon Lowe - Win via submission (guillotine choke) - WSOF 5 - September 14, 2013

- vs. Din Thomas - WIn via decision (unanimous) - Legacy FC 19 - April 12, 2013

- vs. Hiroyuki Takaya - Win via decision (split) - DREAM 18 - December 31, 2012

- vs. Micah Miller - Win via decision (unanimous) - Tachi Palace Fights 14 - September 7, 2012

- vs. Aaron Mobley - Win via KO (strikes) - Gladiator Challenge: Star Wars - April 29, 2012

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Rick Glenn - WSOF 7: Johnson vs. Kyle - December 7, 2013

Comment: Karakhanyan makes his first appearance in the 411 MMA Rankings, fresh off his win at WSOF 5 two months back. That victory sets him up to compete for the new WSOF featherweight championship next month when he takes on 24-year-old (14-2-1) Rick Glenn, who is on a seven-fight win streak. Georgi's own eight-fight win streak leads him into their battle in Vancouver on NBC Sports.




15) Tatsuya Kawajiri (32-7-2)


Height: 5'7

Birthday: May 8, 1978

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Michihiro Omigawa - Win via decision (unanimous) - DREAM 18 - December 31, 2012

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Hacran Dias - UFC Fight Night: Ellenberger vs. Saffiedine - January 4, 2014

Comment: It's about time. "Crusher" the longtime Japanese stud, will make his UFC debut in January when he fights Hacran Dias in Singapore. Tatsuya has not fought since last New Year's Eve when he beat Michihiro Omigawa in DREAM. Since dropping to 145-pounds in 2011, he's undefeated with four wins, including three by chokehold. Naturally, most suspect his success will be limited, only because of the history of such peers as Hatsu Hioki, Omigawa and Kid Yamamoto, among others. But, it's now or never for Kawajiri and we'll finally find out how he fares inside the octagon as of January 4th.





Final Notes: Conor McGregor, Rani Yahya,Tom Niinimaki, Jeremy Stephens and Shinya Aoki received additional votes.

Long-time featherweight Erik Koch will be moving up to lightweight, so he was removed from consideration.





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