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411's MMA Rankings 05.20.14: Lightweight Division
Posted by Jonathan Solomon on 05.20.2014





It's a week before Memorial Day, so there's no better occasion than now to pull the veil on the lightweight division and update our 411 MMA Rankings. Correlation be damned, but there's plenty to talk about in the wake of Bellator's first-ever pay-per-view event on Saturday. If you take away all the mindless non-action between fights, it was actually a very fun broadcast full of entertaining fights. Perhaps the fight of the night was when former champ Michael Chandler took on Will Brooks for the promotion's interim championship (champ Eddie Alvarez was out due to injury).

The battle went both ways, but it was Brooks (the one-time prospect who made a huge splash in the sport by traveling to Japan and making sure those who watched knew his name after he finished Satoru Kitaoka) who came out on top according to the judges in Memphis. Whether this now sets up a definitive lightweight title match between Brooks and Alvarez in the fall remains to be seen, but I would not necessarily frown upon a third bout pitting Alvarez against Chandler. Either way, fans win on this front.

As for the UFC, with the big title fight where Anthony Pettis defends his gold for the first time against Gilbert Melendez is still half-a-year away, the spotlight is on the multitude of contenders who will be in action this spring and summer. The action starts in a matter of weeks when #2 lightweight Benson Henderson meets Rustam Khabilov who is looking at his first big stage, a UFC Fight Night main event clash. In the weeks following that competitive match-up, unbeaten Myles Jury will return to action while perennial contenders Jim Miller and "Cowboy" Donald Cerrone will square off. Josh Thomson is back in the grind and will meet Michael Johnson inside the octagon in July and that leaves only T.J. Grant and 22-0 Khabib Nurmagomedov as contenders without fights as of today.




RANKINGS FROM ONE YEAR AGO
06.25.13


1. Benson Henderson

2. Gilbert Melendez

3. Anthony Pettis

4. Josh Thomson

5. Michael Chandler

6. T.J. Grant

7. Pat Healy

8. Gray Maynard

9. Eddie Alvarez

10. Jim Miller

11. Nate Diaz

12. Khabib Nurmagomedov

13. Donald Cerrone

14. Joe Lauzon

15. Jamie Varner




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: It's not an easy road for the former UFC champion to get another shot at the gold and a potential third fight with the man he is 0-2 against, Anthony Pettis. First, he must stop the dangerous Russian with a 17-1 record in Rustam Khabilov in less than three weeks. It's possible that he will also have to stop Khabilov's buddy, undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov before he can get another crack at Pettis, too.




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





4) 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





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:

- Injured

Comment: Alvarez unfortunately could not compete on the first-ever Bellator PPV over the weekend due to a concussions suffered in training a week earlier. He remains the lightweight champion but the caveat to the turn of events following the show is that he can still insist on fighting Michael Chandler (despite his losing to Will Brooks). As best we can tell, without seeing Alvarez's contract for ourselves, a fight with Chandler would bring with it his immediate free agency. What will Eddie do?




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:

- vs. Michael Johnson - UFC on Fox - July 26, 2014

Comment: It's official, The Punk will return this summer in San Jose to fight up-and-comer Michael Johnson. Thomson controversially was on the losing end of a split decision to Benson Henderson in January and considered retirement in the aftermath of the bout. Now, he'll have to stop who has looked good over the past year - Johnson is 3-0 since last spring.




7) "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:

- vs. Jim Miller - UFC Fight Night: Cerrone vs. Miller - July 16, 2014





8) Jim Miller (24-4, 1 NC)


Height: 5'8

Birthday: August 30, 1983

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Yancy Medeiros - Win via submission (guillotine choke) - UFC 172: Jones vs. Teixeira - April 26, 2014

-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

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Donald Cerrone - UFC Fight Night: Cerrone vs. Miller - July 16, 2014

Comment: Miller scored his second consecutive submission victory last month and was quick to sign on for another fight. He's now set to fight "Cowboy" Ceronne this summer in his home state of New Jersey, the main event of a Fox Sports 1 card. Miller is now on a streak of two-years without losing and a win over Cerrone will push him back into the convoluted UFC lightweight title picture.




9) 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





10) Will Brooks (14-1)


Height: 5'10

Birthday: October 8, 1986

Currently Fighting With: Bellator MMA

Last 6 fights:

- vs. Michael Chandler - Win via decision (split) - Bellator 120 - May 17, 2014

- vs. Alexander Sarnavskiy - Win via decision (unanimous) - Bellator 109 - November 22, 2013

- vs. Saad Awad - Win via decision (unanimous) - Bellator 105 - October 25, 2013

- vs. John Alessio - Win via decision (unanimous) - Bellator 101 - September 27, 2013

- vs. Cris Leyva - Win via TKO (strikes) - Bellator 97 - July 31, 2013

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: The new interim-lightweight champion in Bellator, Brooks scored the upset over former champion Michael Chandler on Saturday. It's Brooks' fifth consecutive victory and that includes the fight against Awad which saw him avenge the only defeat of his career. It's uncertain whether he'll meet champion Eddie Alvarez later this year or not, but Brooks has arrived and can no longer be considered a prospect.




11) 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: There remains no update on Grant's potential return to the cage as he is still out of action following his concussion last September. As a matter of fact, barring his return beforehand, in the next update to these rankings, Grant will be absent as it has been 357 days since he last competed (our limit is one year between fights unless a fighter is officially booked to compete in the future).




12) Michael Chandler (12-)


Height: 5'8

Birthday: April 24, 1986

Currently Fighting With: Bellator MMA

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Will Brooks - Loss via decision (split) - Bellator 120 - May 17, 2014

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: One of the several bits of controversy at Bellator 120 on Saturday, Chandler suffered his second professional loss due to split decision. The five-round war was back and forth and one round was scored against Chandler with a 10-8, even. To the man's credit, he took the defeat honorably, not dishing out any excuses and insisting he'll improve next time.




13) 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:

- vs. Abel Trujillo - UFC Fight Night: Swanson vs. Stephens - June 28, 2014

Comment: Perhaps the hottest fighter outside the title picture in the UFC's lightweight division is undefeated Myles Jury. He picked up the biggest win of his career in March by beating Diego Sanchez in a unanimous decision. Next up is a fight next month with the powerful Abel Trujillo (two consecutive knockouts leading up to this bout). Make no mistake, there's a lot of hype behind Jury now, and he's likely the favorite so he's not in a position anymore where people don't know his name.




14) 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




15) 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:

- vs. Josh Thomson - UFC on Fox - July 26, 2014

Comment: It's the biggest fight of Johnson's career, no doubt about it. He will go into enemy territory and fight Thomson in his hometown. The former Strikeforce champion and one of the most exciting lightweights in MMA history, if Johnson is able to defeat him, he'll burst up this list like few have the opportunity to do so.





Final Notes: Bobby Green and Justin Gaethje received additional votes.





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