Frank Edgar remains MMA's foremost lightweight and has finally defeated Gray Maynard. | Photo: Dave Mandel
1. Frankie Edgar (14-1-1)
After surviving another brutal first round against Gray Maynard on Oct. 8, Edgar closed out the pair’s trilogy with another spectacular comeback, knocking out his “Bully” in the fourth round. With Maynard finally behind him, the New Jerseyan will have no shortage of contenders in the new year, including the winner of November’s Clay Guida-Ben Henderson bout and incoming Strikeforce champ Gilbert Melendez.
2. Gilbert Melendez (19-2)
While recent comments from UFC boss Dana White indicate that “El Nino” will be storming the Octagon in short order, Melendez still has one more hurdle to jump. The Strikeforce lightweight champion is still expected to defend his belt against American Top Team slugger Jorge Masvidal on Dec. 17.
3. Gray Maynard (10-1-1, 1 NC)
Maynard doled out more damage to Frankie Edgar in their third encounter, but just as in their second meeting, he could not finish off the scrappy champ. The result: Maynard’s first career loss, a brutal fourth-round knockout, and a bump back down the ladder in the crowded UFC 155-pound division.
4. Shinya Aoki (29-5, 1 NC)
Since enduring a five-round drubbing from Melendez in April 2010, Aoki has reeled off six straight victories, including submissions of Tatsuya Kawajiri and Lyle Beerbohm. Most recently, the “Tobikan Judan” recorded his third straight win via neck crank on Sept. 24 by tapping ex-WEC champ Rob McCullough.
5. Eddie Alvarez (22-2)
The busy schedule which Alvarez once kept has slowed drastically since he won Bellator’s lightweight title in 2009; now, an injury has sidelined the Philadelphian. Scheduled to defend against fourth-season tourney winner Michael Chandler on Oct. 15, Alvarez was forced to withdraw in late-September from the bout, which has not yet been rescheduled.
6. Ben Henderson (14-2)
People expected Jim Miller to use Henderson as a springboard to a UFC title shot. Instead, “Smooth” was dominant from bell-to-bell, smashing Miller from top position to take a unanimous victory and up his status in the rich 155-pound division. With his next bout, Henderson could legitimately lay claim to a title shot if he can overcome Clay Guida on Nov. 12.
7. Jim Miller (20-3)
Miller was on the doorstep of a UFC lightweight title shot but stumbled again. The New Jersey native simply could not keep up with the potent ground attack of Benson Henderson and lost a unanimous decision that will set him back in the lightweight title picture.
8. Clay Guida (29-11)
Vintage Guida was on display June 4 at “The Ultimate Fighter 13” finale, where “The Carpenter” used his frantic pace and suffocating ground game to top former WEC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis. The 29-year-old Chicagoan will try to win his fifth straight on Nov. 12 when he meets another ex-WEC titlist, Ben Henderson, in Anaheim, Calif.
9. Anthony Pettis (13-2)
World Extreme Cagefighting’s final lightweight champion got his first UFC win on Oct. 8, using takedowns to narrowly outpoint Jeremy Stephens, much in the same way Clay Guida earned a decision in Pettis’ June debut. The 24-year-old Roufusport fighter has now won six of eight bouts under Zuffa employ.
10. Donald Cerrone (16-3)
Having come up short in three tries for the WEC lightweight belt, Cerrone has looked like a man on a mission since entering the UFC. The “Cowboy” has rattled off a trio of impressive wins over Charles Oliveira, Paul Kelly and Vagner Rocha, and will look to go 4-0 on the year when he meets Dennis Siver on Oct. 29.
Other contenders: Melvin Guillard, Joe Lauzon, Jorge Masvidal, Dennis Siver, Gleison Tibau.
With his Oct. 8 loss to Joe Lauzon, previously 10th-ranked Melvin Guillard falls to the contenders list.
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