1. Ben Henderson (17-2)
The second go-around was even more contentious than the first, but Ben Henderson managed to get his hands raised by split decision in Denver, and retain the UFC lightweight title. The 155-pound king cannot rest for long, however, as he is already slotted in to main-event the UFC on Fox 5 come Dec. 8 against dangerous challenger Nate Diaz.
2. Frankie Edgar (14-3-1)
Edgar fought in his familiar style and piled up punches on Ben Henderson, but in spite of earning their Aug. 11 rematch in most observers’ eyes, the New Jersey native lost another decision. Though many have begun to beat the drum for Edgar to move to 145, “The Answer” has thus far been resolute in continuing to contend at 155.
3. Gilbert Melendez (21-2)
It seems like things just get more and more grim for the Strikeforce lightweight champ. Despite a shallow Strikeforce lightweight talent pool, it seemed Pat Healy was the next on deck for Melendez. After his razor-thin decision win over Deep champ Mizuto Hirota on July 14, Healy still seems to be the man to next challenge Melendez, but certainly not with whatever enthusiasm existed previously for the bout.
4. Gray Maynard (11-1-1, 1 NC)
Maynard’s path to a third UFC lightweight title shot will undoubtedly be littered with notable 155-pound contenders if it is to continue. After topping Clay Guida in June, Maynard has signed on to tangle with Joe Lauzon at UFC 155 on Dec. 29.
5. Nate Diaz (16-7)
Diaz’s decision to wait for the winner of Ben Henderson-Frankie Edgar 2 proved wise. With Henderson getting his hand raised in Denver, he is now signed on to defend his UFC lightweight title against Diaz, who will make his second headlining appearance on network television at UFC on Fox 5 on Dec. 8.
6. Jim Miller (21-4)
After going more than two years between losses, the younger of New Jersey’s fighting Miller brothers has dropped two of his last three starts. The latest loss came May 5 at the hands of Nate Diaz, who forced Miller to submit to a second-round guillotine choke.
7. Clay Guida (29-13)
Some might have expected Clay Guida to lose his June 22 bout with Gray Maynard, but probably not to lose fans. The widely-beloved lightweight put together a stinker of a gameplan for his bout with “The Bully,” staying on his bicycle and avoiding any real contact. However, the plan nearly worked for “The Carpenter,” who lost a close split decision.
8. Anthony Pettis (15-2)
Frank Edgar and Benson Henderson might have stolen the show at UFC 144 in the main event, but Anthony Pettis wasn’t content to let his 155-pound brethren get all the shine. “Showtime” showed up in sizzling style in Saitama, kicking Joe Lauzon upside the head and knocking out the respected “J-Lau” early in the first frame.
9. Donald Cerrone (19-4, 1 NC)
The “Cowboy” begged for a fight in Denver at UFC 150 and was rewarded with former training partner Melvin Guillard. In turn, Cerrone rewarded onlookers with a crushing and quick knockout of “The Young Assassin” that further entrenched the Jackson-Winkeljohn pupil as one of MMA’s most action-packed fighters and a UFC lightweight mover-and-shaker.
10 Michael Chandler (10-0)
Bellator’s lightweight ace did exactly what was expected of him in his May 5 non-title bout, sending Japanese vet Akihiro Gono into retirement with a 56-second demolition. Chandler will get a much stiffer test in his as-yet-unscheduled first defense, which will see the NCAA wrestling standout clash with Olympic judoka and sixth-season tourney winner Rick Hawn.
Other contenders:Shinya Aoki, Eddie Alvarez, Rick Hawn, Pat Healy, Joe Lauzon.
Continue Reading » MMA Featherweight Rankings