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411's MMA Rankings 07.15.14: Lightweight Division
Posted by Jonathan Solomon on 07.15.2014





The dog days of summer may not be here quite yet but the barrage of UFC events in the coming weeks should go a long way in bridging time through the fall. After all, there is a show in Atlantic City tomorrow night on Fox Sports 1 and Saturday brings us to Ireland for a UFC Fight Pass card. Tomorrow, in particular, features a headline fighter pitting lightweights Jim Miller and "Cowboy" Donald Cerrone against one another. So, how do they fare in the 411 MMA Rankings before they lock horns? That is why we're here today in our lightweight rankings.

Saturday's show may not feature a fight between top 10 fighters, but an intriguing fight at 155-pounds is set for Ireland. 27-year-old local Judo fighter Norman Parke (19-2-1), the TUF: Smashes champion, will take on 32-year-old Japanese veteran Naoyuki Kotani (33-10-7), making his return to the UFC for the first time in nearly seven years. Since 2007, he returned to Japan and has won his last 13 consecutive fights, most by submission.

Back to tomorrow's sure-fire war, Miller's birthday is next month and he will look to secure his 25th professional win just over two hours from where he was born and raised. Jim is undefeated over his last four fights and since December has submitted both Fabricio Camoes and Yancy Medeiros. His opponent is Cerrone has never fought on the east coast before and is on his most impressive run in the UFC since 2011. Dating back to November, he was choked out Evan Dunham and Edson Barboza while finished Adriano Martins via head kick. Both men are well known and recognized for being among the most entertaining fighters in the world, so there's reason to suspect tomorrow night may be one of the best fights of the summer.

Looking ahead at the rest of the summer, there are plenty of other noteworthy fights in the UFC's lightweight division. Later this month on Fox, Josh Thomson is back and is matched up opposite Bobby Green. Headlining the prelims the same night is a fight between Daron Cruickshank and Jorge Masvidal. Plus next month, Gray Maynard returns after consecutive TKO losses last year to fight Fabricio Camoes. At 35-years-old and having been stopped by strikes three times in four fights since the fall of 2011, Maynard is fighting off retirement as much as he is his opponents inside the octagon.

Away from the UFC, the biggest lightweight fight this summer so far took place almost two weeks ago in Daytona, Florida at WSOF 11 when lightweight champion Justin Gaethje remained undefeated when he stopped Nick Newell with strikes in the second round. Newell had been undefeated heading into the bout but Gaethje showed just why he's among the best up-and-coming fighters in this division.





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 181: Pettis vs. Melendez - December 6, 2014

Comment: Lightweight champion Anthony Pettis and top contender Gilbert Melendez are in the middle of The Ultimate Fighter: Season 20 filming in Las Vegas. The series will return to Fox Sports 1 in September and the two will headline the final pay-per-view event of the year in December. Amazingly, neither fighter has seen action since last year and the December 2014 fight will mark their first in 17 months (Pettis) and under 14 months (Melendez).




2) Benson "Smooth" Henderson (21-3)


Height: 5'9

Birthday: November 16, 1983

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Rustam Khabilov - Win via submission (rear naked choke) - UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. Khabilov - June 7, 2014

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Rafael dos Anjos - UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. dos Anjos - August 23, 2014

Comment: It was Henderson's most impressive performance since he dominated Nate Diaz nearly two years ago. The former UFC champion proved to be the better fighter last month when he met Rustam Khabilov in the main event of a UFC Fight Night show. Not only did Benson become the first man to finish Khabilov (in the Russian's 19th professional fight), but it was the first win by KO or submission for him since he choked out Cowboy Cerrone in their 2010 rematch (he was 8-2 in the fights between these finishes).

Up next for Benson is a fight with Rafael dos Anjos next month in Oklahoma. While the timing is wonky because of TUF, it's likely that a win for Benson may be enough to give him another title fight regardless of whether Pettis or Melendez is champion. With T.J. Grant out of the picture, Eddie Alvarez remaining in Bellator and the only other viable contender being Khabib Nurmagomedov, Bendo may get his third crack at Showtime.




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 181: Pettis vs. Melendez - December 6, 2014

Comment: It sure seems like Melendez has had more UFC fights than the two he competed in last year. His contract expired and he negotiated with Bellator and World Series of Fighting before ultimately (pun intended) reaching an agreement to return to the UFC and coach on TUF20 opposite Pettis. Over the last several years between his time in Strikeforce and in the octagon, he has never looked weak and has always been in fights through their final rounds. Add those facts on top of Melendez being one of the most entertaining MMA fighters in the sport and it's easy to root for him. He narrowly missed out on becoming UFC champion last spring because of a split decision agains Henderson and he'll hope to turn the page when he fights Anthony Pettis at the end of the year.




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

Comment: According to an MMAJunkie.com report, Nurmagomedov expects to return to competition in the fall, as early as September. He's not injured or refusing to fight any particular opponent as he is observing the month-long tradition of Ramadan, which ends in about two weeks.




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

Comment: Bellator champion Eddie Alvarez never did end up fighting Michael Chandler on the company's debut pay-per-view in May. A week before the fight was to happen, he sustained a concussion in training and had to pull out. Chandler ended up losing to Will Brooks and now Bellator's new boss Scott Coker has a big decision to make: Alvarez will defend his crown against Chandler or Brooks before the end of 2014.




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. Bobby Green - UFC on FOX - July 26, 2014

Comment: Thomson was set to make his return against Michael Johnson, but due to a switch announced last week, Thomson was instead compete against Bobby Green.




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 - July 16, 2014

Comment: Cowboy is fighting man in Miller who has never been stopped due to strikes. The more I think about this matchup, the more I love it.




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 - July 16, 2014

Comment: Cerrone has only been submitted in his pro career once -- by Benson Henderson in 2010. Jim Miller, a BJJ black belt has won via subs in 15 fights and it would not be surprising in the least if he can make it three in a row.




9) Will Brooks (14-1)


Height: 5'10

Birthday: October 8, 1986

Currently Fighting With: Bellator MMA

Last 5 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: Brooks returns to the rankings, filling the void left by T.J. Grant. Will was the hottest prospect in the sport at the start of 2013 and despite a knockout loss last February, he has returned with a vengeance to claim the Bellator interim lightweight title.




10) 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. Takanori Gomi - UFC Fight Night - September 20, 2014

Comment: Jury, one of the freshest rising stars in the lightweight division, gets another big test against a popular veteran. Earlier in the year, he defeated Diego Sanchez and days before the summer concludes, he'll meet Japanese lightweight legend Takanori Gomi in Saitama, Japan. Gomi will turn 36-years-old on September 22 and is coming off a victory in a fight of the night performance against Isaac Vallie-Flagg in the spring.




11) Rafael dos Anjos (21-7)


Height: 5'9

Birthday: October 26, 1984

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Jason High - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. Khabilov - June 7, 2014

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Benson Henderson - UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. dos Anjos - August 23, 2014

Comment: For RDA, will his August fight with Benson be the final time he's right in the mix of title contention? Nobody expects him to upset Henderson, one of the best in the world for several years, and the likelihood of dos Anjos getting another opportunity like this after a loss is not good. But, Rafael can also look at this like he has nothing to lose while Henderson is on the cusp of another title fight.




12) 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




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

Comment: Nobody seems to know what the deal is with Nate Diaz. Reportedly, he was offered a fight for this summer with Myles Jury (Jury publicly accepted the bout), but the Stockton, California native offered no response. So, Jury was instead matched with Takanori Gomi and Diaz remains on the sidelines. He has not fought since November and it does not appear he will return to the octagon anytime soon.




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




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:

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



15*) Justin Gaethje (12-0)


Height: 5'11

Birthday: November 14, 1988

Currently Fighting With: World Series of Fighting

Last 6 fights:

- vs. Nick Newell - Win via TKO (punch) - WSOF 11 - July 5, 2014

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: Gaethje retained the WSOF championship in his first defense and added another victory by TKO stoppage to his record. He may be hovering towards the end of our rankings, but don't forget his name because you will see him continue to climb the ranks for years to come.





Final Notes: No other fighter received additional votes.

T.J. Grant is absent from this weeks 411 MMA RANKINGS because it has been over one calendar year since he last competed. If he returns to active competition, he will become eligible once he signs for an official fight.





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