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411's MMA Rankings 02.11.14: Lightweight Division
Posted by Jonathan Solomon on 02.11.2014





Hello everybody, it's Tuesday and this is the 411 MMA Rankings! In this pre-Valentine's Day edition, we unveil the first lightweight division list of 2014, so we can find out how much has changed since December when we last looked at this class.

The biggest turn of events came last month on Fox when Benson Henderson was ruled the winner by two judges after his fight with Josh Thomson. While some believed "The Punk" to be the rightful winner, as we all know all too well by now, only three people's opinions make a difference. Unfortunately for Thomson, it seemed like a ton of issues came to a head with the loss ranging from a laborious training camp, a broken hand and introspective thoughts about his career. He spoke about retirement the night of the loss but let's all hope that was just frustration boiling over, because he remains one of the most entertaining fighters in the division. Plus, I'm still holding out hope we will someday see him and Gilbert Melendez lock horns again.

As for Bendo, while it appears the win should set him up for a title rematch with champ Anthony Pettis, not so fast. Featherweight champion Jose Aldo is considering a move up to 155-pounds, which would mean he'd get the next crack at Pettis. However, that's not a done deal as we heard last week that Aldo's camp was puling for a catchweight fight so he would not have to forfeit the 145-pound championship. Seeing as how Pettis is still recovering from last year's knee injury and he likely will not be able to fight until the summer, this story has a ways to go before it concludes.

Meanwhile, other top contenders like Gilbert Melendez (personal choice to not fight until late in the spring) and T.J. Grant (concussion symptoms) are on the sidelines for the time being. That leaves the next big lightweight fight in the UFC as the one recently booked between undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov and surging Rafael dos Anjos in April on the next Fox show.

Of course, that same show will see lightweights "Cowboy" Donald Cerrone and Edson Barboza clash. There's a match-up that looks extremely capable of being a show-stealer underneath the Fabricio Werdum/Travis Browne headliner.

Over in Bellator, their 10th season kicks off at the end of this month and we still do not know the status of champion Eddie Alvarez. We surmise they will go straight towards a trilogy between him and Michael Chandler, though that's not yet confirmed. Aside from former champion Chandler, there are two tournament winners awaiting their opportunities to compete for the gold: Dave Jansen and Will Brooks. Keep an eye out for Bellator MMA as their lightweight division is arguably the best/most competitive/most entertaining in their entire company.





RANKINGS FROM ONE YEAR AGO
01.29.13


1. Benson Henderson

2. Gilbert Melendez

3. Anthony Pettis

4. Nate Diaz

5. Michael Chandler

6. Gray Maynard

7. Jim Miller

8. Eddie Alvarez

9. Pat Healy

10. Donald Cerrone

11. Khabib Nurmagomedov

12. T.J. Grant

13. Joe Lauzon

14. Jamie Varner

15. Josh Thomson




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





2) Benson "Smooth" Henderson (20-3)


Height: 5'9

Birthday: November 16, 1983

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Josh Thomson - Win via decision (split) - UFC on Fox: Henderson vs. Thomson - January 25, 2014

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: Smooth is the proper word because of his penchant for scoring these wins in razor thing decisions. It's uncanny, going back to his wins over Frankie Edgar and then the Gilbert Melendez fight and now the Josh Thomson scrap. While a win is a win, his only decisive win in recent memory was his thrashing of Nate Diaz over a year ago. Regardless, he's clearly the 2nd best lightweight in the world and apparently, only "Showtime" Pettis can stop him.




3) Gilbert "El Nino" Melendez (22-3)


Height: 5'9

Birthday: April 12, 1982

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Diego Sanchez - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 166: Velasquez vs. JDS 3 - October 19, 2013

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown




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


Height: 5'10

Birthday: September 21, 1978

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Benson Henderson - Loss via decision (split) - UFC on Fox: Henderson vs. Thomson - January 25, 2014

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown





5) Eddie Alvarez (25-3)


Birthday: November 11, 1984

Currently Fighting With: Bellator MMA

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Michael Chandler - Win via decision (split) - Bellator 106 - November 2, 2013

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown





6) 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





7) Khabib Nurmagomedov (21-0)


Height: 5'10

Birthday: September 20, 1988

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Pat Healy - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 165: Jones vs. Gustafsson - September 21, 2013

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Rafael dos Anjos - UFC on Fox: Werdum vs. Browne - April 19, 2014





8) Michael Chandler (12-1)


Height: 5'8

Birthday: April 24, 1986

Currently Fighting With: Bellator MMA

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Eddie Alvarez - Loss via decision (split) - Bellator 106 - November 2, 2013

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown





9) 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:

- vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov - UFC on Fox: Werdum vs. Browne - April 19, 2014





10) Jim Miller (23-4, 1 NC)


Height: 5'8

Birthday: August 30, 1983

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

-vs. Fabricio Camoes - Win via submission (armbar) - UFC 168: Weidman vs. Silva 2 - December 28, 2013

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Bobby Green - UFC 172: Jones vs. Teixeira - April 26, 2014

Comment: While UFC 168 was historic for the Rousey/Tate fight and the unfortunate ending to Weidman/Silva 2, Jim Miller may have scored the nicest victory that night. He scored an armbar submission victory against a highly trained grappler in Fabricio Camoes and the New Jersey-based fighter is getting right back in the mix. He's scheduled to take on Bobby Green in April with the latter looking to make his name off Miller.




11) Nate Diaz (17-9)


Height: 6'0

Birthday: April 16, 1985

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Gray Maynard - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC TUF 18 Finale - November 30, 2013

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown




12) "Cowboy" Donald Cerrone (22-6, 1 NC)


Height: 6'

Birthday: March 29, 2983

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Adriano Martins - Win via KO (head kick) - UFC on Fox: Henderson vs. Thomson - January 25, 2014

- vs. Evan Dunham - Win via submission (triangle choke) - UFC 167: St. Pierre vs. Hendricks - November 16, 2013

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Edson Barboza - UFC on Fox: Werdum vs. Browne - April 19, 2014

Comment: Cerrone is looking to set the record for most fights in a single calendar year for the UFC (I believe that number is 6), so he's getting back in the cage in two months following his head kick KO win over Adriano Martins last month. He probably has already spent any potential bonus money coming his way, too.





13) Edson Barboza (13-1)


Height: 5'11

Birthday: January 21, 1986

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Danny Castillo - Win via decision (split) - UFC on Fox: Johnson vs. Benavidez 2 - December 14, 2013

- vs. Rafaello Oliveira - Win via TKO (leg kicks) - UFC 162: Silva vs. Weidman - July 6, 2013

- vs. Lucas Martins - WIn via submission (strikes) - UFC on FX: Belfort vs. Bisping - January 19, 2013

- vs. Jamie Varner - Loss via TKO (strikes) - UFC 146 - May 26, 2012

- vs. Terry Etim - Win via KO (wheel kick) - UFC 142: Aldo vs. Mendes - January 14, 2012

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Donald Cerrone - UFC on Fox: Werdum vs. Browne - April 19, 2014




14) Bobby "King" Green (22-5)


Height: 5'10

Birthday: September 9, 1986

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Pat Healy - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC on Fox: Johnson vs. Benavidez 2 - December 14, 2013

- vs. James Krause - Win via TKO (body kick) - UFC: Fight for the Troops 3 - November 6, 2013

- vs. Jacob Volkmann - Win via submission (rear naked choke) - UFC 156: Aldo vs. Edgar - February 2, 2013

- vs. Matt Ricehouse - Win via decision (unanimous) - Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman - August 18, 2012

- vs. James Terry - Win via decision (split) - Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Cormier - May 19, 2012

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Jim Miller - UFC 172: Jones vs. Teixeira - April 26, 2014

Comment: Green suffered an injury in training and had to withdraw from a fight against Abel Trujillo recently, but he'll be back in the octagon in April. A tough match-up with Jim Miller awaits him.




15) Justin Gaethje (11-0)


Height: 5'11

Birthday: November 14, 1988

Currently Fighting With: World Series of Fighting

Last 6 fights:

- vs. Rich Patishnock - Win via TKO (strikes) - WSOF 8 - January 18, 2014

- vs. Dan Lauzon - Win via TKO (strikes) - WSOF 6 - October 26, 2013

- vs. Brian Cobb - Win via TKO (leg kicks) - WSOF 3 - June 14, 2013

- vs. JZ Cavalcante - Win via TKO (doctor stoppage) - WSOF 2 - March 23, 2013

- vs. Adrian Valdez - Win via TKO (punches) - Rage in the Cage 164 - November 16, 2012

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: In an electric 69-second fight, Gathje became the first WSOF lightweight champion by stopping Rich Patishnock with a barrage of strikes. While their division may not be as talent-rich as the UFC's or even Bellator, this 25-year-old continues to display an aggressiveness that has never let him down in the cage.




Final Notes: Rustam Khabilov, Michael Johnson, Will Brooks, Myles Jury and Gray Maynard received additional votes.





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