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411's MMA Rankings 04.22.14: Lightweight Division
Posted by Jonathan Solomon on 04.22.2014





The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!

UFC champion Anthony Pettis, top contender Gilbert Melendez, Benson Henderson and everyone else in their division need to beware of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Rustam Khabilov.

At least that was the message I picked up while watching the final fight on the Fox Sports 1 prelims Saturday, would you agree?

Welcome to the 411 MMA Rankings, this week we bring you the newest edition of the lightweight rankings. In the UFC, the biggest mover and shaker may very well be Nurmagomedov, who remained undefeated with his win Saturday against Rafael dos Anjos. Meanwhile, his buddy Khabilov will meet Henderson in action in just over a month. While the latter Russian fighter may not yet be ranked below, a win over Bendo would easily catapult him into towards the top of our list. Until then, it's Nurmagomedov's show as he continues to rag doll opponents to win his fights.

Now, the focus of this division tosses over to Bellator MMA and their upcoming debut on pay-per-view on May 17th in Memphis. The main event will see the trilogy come to fruition between reigning champion Eddie Alvarez and his biggest rival and former champion, Michael Chandler. Their past two battles in 2011 and 2013, were each fight of the year candidates and there's no reason to expect any less from the two next month. Making the bout even more meaningful is the possibility that it may be Alvarez's final Bellator fight, win or lose. When his legal case with the company was settled last year, reports at the time from Dave Meltzer and others cited free agency clauses (if Alvarez lost the second fight, he could have become a free agent and win or lose in the third, the same applies) that exist in his contract.

Just imagine if Eddie is able to walk into free agency as the reigning Bellator champion, he's as good as locked up in the mash of UFC lightweight contenders. The fact that the next title fight between Pettis and Melendez is not scheduled until the end of the year is doing wonders to keep the division on ice, so he won't be losing ground if he does in fact end up reaching a new deal with the UFC.

But, we cannot look past guys like Nurmagomedov, Josh Thomson, T.J. Grant, Jim Miller or Donald Cerrone.




RANKINGS FROM ONE YEAR AGO
04.23.13


1. Benson Henderson

2. Gilbert Melendez

3. Anthony Pettis

4. Josh Thomson

5. Michael Chandler

6. Gray Maynard

7. Jim Miller

8. Nate Diaz

9. Eddie Alvarez

10. Pat Healy

11. Joe Lauzon

12. Khabib Nurmagomedov

13. Jamie Varner

14. Donald Cerrone

15. T.J. Grant




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:

- vs. Gilbert Melendez - UFC - Fall 2014





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:

- vs. Rustam Khabilov - UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. Khabilov - June 7, 2014

Comment: Give credit to Benson as he's taking a big risk in fighting Khabilov. Considering that the Dagestani-born fighter is 17-1 overall (3-0 in the UFC) with little fanfare in the U.S., he's putting his spot near the top of this division on the line with little to gain. On the surface, the majority of MMA fans would assume Henderson should win, but it's a much tougher match-up than that on paper. Put it this way, the last time Henderson fought an unranked lightweight, it was his UFC debut almost exactly three years ago (he defeated Mark Bocek).




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:

- vs. Anthony Pettis - UFC - Fall 2014

Comment: Filming for the next The Ultimate Fighter season featuring Pettis and Melendez as opposing coaches, will begin at the end of next month. We'll have to wait until it airs on Fox Sports 1 in September with rosters full of women strawweights aiming to become champion.




4) 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:

- vs. Michael Chandler - Bellator 120 - May 17, 2014





5) Khabib Nurmagomedov (22-0)


Height: 5'10

Birthday: September 20, 1988

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Rafael dos Anjos - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC on Fox: Werdum vs. Browne - April 19, 2014

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: Making it look almost too easy, Nurmagomedov handled RDA for three rounds to secure his 22nd consecutive professional win.




6) 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

Comment: Good news from Thomson dropped earlier this month as he confirmed he will NOT retire off his controversial loss to Benson Henderson in January. He first started punching again this month as his hand healed after a fracture during the fight. He's looking to get on the next UFC on Fox show in July, set for San Jose, his hometown.




7) 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

Comment: I have not seen any updates as for when Grant can expect to return to action on the heels of his concussion last year.




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:

- vs. Eddie Alvarez - Bellator 120 - May 17, 2014





9) "Cowboy" Donald Cerrone (23-6, 1 NC)


Height: 6'

Birthday: March 29, 2983

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Edson Barboza - Win via submission (rear naked choke) - UFC on Fox: Werdum vs. Browne - April 19, 2014

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: His fight with Barboza over the weekend was perhaps the most hyped bout of the Fox card and it did not disappoint. He dropped Edson with a jab, pounced and finished the fight with a rear naked choke. It's Cowboy's third win in five months and he's not looking to slow down anytime soon.




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. Yancy Medeiros - UFC 172: Jones vs. Teixeira - April 26, 2014

Comment: With Bobby Green hurt, in steps Yancy Medeiros to fight Jim Miller this weekend. The Hawaiian born fighter was last seen knocking out Yves Edwards in November, but a post-fight drug test failure for marijuana erased that.




11) Rafael dos Anjos (20-7)


Height: 5'9

Birthday: October 26, 1984

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov - Loss via decision (unanimous) - UFC on Fox: Werdum vs. Browne - April 19, 2014

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: On the heels of his latest win streak and the upset over Donald Cerrone last summer, Rafael looked his worse since losing to Gleison Tibau nearly three years ago.




12) Myles "The Fury" Jury (14-0)


Height: 5'11

Birthday: October 31, 1988

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Diego Sanchez - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 171 - March 15, 2014

- vs. Mike Ricci - Win via decision (split) - UFC 165 - September 21, 2013

- vs. Ramsey Nijem - Win via KO (punch) - UFC on Fox: Henderson vs. Melendez - April 20, 2013

- vs. Michael Johnson - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 155 - December 29, 2012

- vs. Chris Saunders - Win via submission (guillotine choke) - UFC TUF 15 Finale - June 1, 2012

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: Jury makes his 411 MMA Rankings debut on the heels of his win over Diego Sanchez last month, improving his record to 14-0.




13) 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




14) Michael "The Menace" Johnson (15-8)


Height: 5'10

Birthday: June 4, 1986

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Melvin Guillard - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC Fight Night: Gustafsson vs. Manuwa - March 8, 2014

- vs. Gleison Tibau - Win via KO (strikes) - UFC 168: Weidman vs. Silva - December 28, 2013

- vs. Joe Lauzon - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs. Sonnen - August 17, 2013

- vs. Reza Madadi - Loss via submission (d'arce choke) - UFC on Fuel: Mousasi vs. Latifi - April 6, 2013

- vs. Myles Jury - Loss via decision (unanimous) - UFC 155 - December 29, 2012

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: Another first-timer, Johnson appears on our rankings at #14 thanks to his three-fight win streak. He handed Guillard the final loss of his UFC run last month (Melvin was cut following the loss) and has now beaten three consecutive UFC veterans with Joe Lauzon and Gleison Tibau rounding out the group.




15) 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:

- Unknown

Comment: Green was forced to withdraw from a planned fight later this month with Jim Miller due to an undisclosed injury.




Final Notes: Justin Gaethje and Will Brooks received additional votes.






MUST-READ 411 STORIES:

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