Sherdog Official Mixed Martial Arts Rankings

Lightweight

Feb 25, 2009
Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com

B.J. "The Prodigy" Penn
Lightweight

1. B.J. Penn (13-5-1)
Greasing controversies aside, Penn was dominated from bell to bell by rival Georges St. Pierre in their UFC 94 superfight. What the loss means for Penn is anyone’s guess given the mercurial decision-making of “The Prodigy.” Penn will head back to 155 pounds to defend his title against Kenny Florian in the late summer if he gets his way.

2. Shinya Aoki (19-3, 1 NC)
Aoki will return to the welterweight division come April, when he will take part in Dream’s welterweight grand prix. In the meantime, he’ll look to add another highlight reel submission to his resume, as he tunes up in a lightweight affair against David Gardner at Dream 7 on March 8.

3. Eddie Alvarez (15-2)
An Aoki heel hook on Dec. 31 left Alvarez with a tweaked knee, canceling his planned January tune-up against Naoyuki Kotani. However, the fiery Philly native is still slated for April action as part of the upstart Bellator Fighting Championships on ESPN Deportes.

4. Joachim Hansen (19-7-1)
Despite the attention given to his New Year’s Eve rematch with Gesias Cavalcante, the bout was nixed at the last minute when a pre-fight medical test revealed an undisclosed head injury to Hansen.

5. Gesias Cavalcante (14-2-1, 1 NC)
Cavalcante was denied the chance to avenge his July 2004 loss to Hansen when their Dec. 31 date was canceled at the last minute. Fortunately, the fight’s cancellation gives “JZ” more time to rehabilitate his knee injury and prepare for his 2009 debut.

6. Sean Sherk (33-3-1)
Sherk’s quest toward regaining the UFC lightweight title will continue at UFC 98 on May 23, when “The Muscle Shark” will take on fellow dynamic wrestler Frank Edgar. Sherk has won 16 of 18 fights.

7. Kenny Florian (11-3)
He will continue to win over the world in the role of analyst, but Florian’s future in the cage now largely rests on Penn’s whims. Should “The Prodigy” acquiesce to the desires of the UFC, Florian could get his second crack at the lightweight title this summer.

8. Satoru Kitaoka (24-8-9)
The hulking Pancrase product continued his lightweight surge, as he effortlessly leglocked perennial divisional standout Takanori Gomi in less than two minutes in January. The victory gave Kitaoka the Sengoku lightweight title and some serious attention from the MMA populace, which had heard little about him prior to his recent run.

9. Josh Thomson (16-2, 1 NC)
Strikeforce’s lightweight ruler will make the first defense of his title on April 11, as part of the promotion’s first foray on Showtime. His opponent is none other than Gilbert Melendez, whom Thomson upset to capture the belt in June.

10. Tatsuya Kawajiri (22-5-2)
Kawajiri turned in one of the most impressive performances of his career on New Year’s Eve. While it did not come in an MMA bout, the “Crusher” stormed Japanese kickboxing icon Kozo Takeda with a brutal first-round stoppage that put the former Shooto world champion’s improved striking on display.

Other contenders: Gray Maynard, Gilbert Melendez, Jim Miller, Eiji Mitsuoka, Jamie Varner.
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