Kevin Lee did not ask for Mario Yamasaki's help. As a red-hot, 24-year-old prospect in perhaps MMA's finest division, he might not have needed it. Nonetheless, at UFC Fight Night 112 in Oklahoma City, Yamasaki was too quick on the draw in his main event stoppage, and as a result, “The Motown Phenom” is climbing the 155-pound ladder.
The June 25 showdown between Lee and fellow ranked lightweight Michael Chiesa was a fantastic booking and a style pairing that presaged excitement, but late in Round 1, Lee took Chiesa's back and applied a rear-naked choke; and that was it, no tap or anything. Chiesa, previously our No. 6 lightweight, was understandably furious and rightfully plans to appeal the loss. Nonetheless, “The Maverick” tumbles to seventh on our 155-pound list, while Lee, the beneficiary of some bunk refereeing, jumps from ninth to No. 6.
Our shake-up in the lightweight division is not entirely predicated on UFC Fight Night 112. A night earlier at Bellator 180 in New York City, promotional poster boy and lightweight champion Michael Chandler was stopped due to an ankle injury, dropping his strap to little-known Brent Primus. The defeat knocks Chandler, our previous No. 7, out of our top 10 and beyond our bubble list. However, his removal allows cult favorite Nate Diaz to slide into 10th at 155, with a certain outspoken fighter-stroke-realtor gaining a spot on our contenders list.
The events of June 24 and June 25 also have the likes of former UFC champ Carla Esparza and current Bellator titlist Douglas Lima on the ascent. In addition, there is more pressing, procedural business in this update.
No one likes to admit they goofed up. After Cortney Casey's victory over Jessica Aguilar at UFC 211 in May, “Cast Iron” took the No. 9 spot in our 115-pound rankings -- and deservedly so, at least until the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation announced she had tested positive and been suspended for elevated levels of testosterone. Frankly, given the TDLR's reputation, we ought to have known better: Further investigation by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency exonerated Casey from any wrongdoing, and the fighter may now seek to have her win over Aguilar reinstated. In the interim, we have recognized our own error and placed Casey back in her rightful strawweight slot.
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