The lightweight division inside the UFC is one of the best, fastest growing divisions in mma. The list of talent at 155 is growing exponentially, and with so many good fighters, where should they be ranked? That’s why I am here. I have been watching mma for over 12 years and witnessed the re-birth of the lightweight division in 2006 and was very excited to see a division where power, speed, and finesse excels. Jens Pulver was the original lightweight champion from February 23rd 2001 to March 23rd 2002 before being stripped of the title due to a contract dispute.
B.J. Penn and Caol Uno fought to a draw on February 28, 2003 at UFC 41 in Atlantic City, NJ, USA in the finale of a 4-man tournament for the vacant title. Penn and Uno fought to a split draw after five rounds. Judges scored the bout 48–47 Uno, 48–46 Penn, and 48–48. This match was the final match of a 4-man tournament that took place over several cards to crown a new lightweight champion, the first round occurred on UFC 39. Without a definitive outcome, the title remained vacant and eventually put the Lightweight division on hiatus.
In 2006 Sean Sherk defeated Kenny Florian in a bloody FOTN war to capture the vacant lightweight belt. Sherk was stripped of the title on December 8th 2007 after testing positive for anabolic steroids in a post fight drug test. From there BJ Penn ran through the division beating the likes of Joe Stevenson, Sean Sherk, Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez before being derailed by underdog at the time Frankie Edgar.
Edgar was the master at proving fans and spectators wrong by beating Penn again in a rematch and then getting in two wars with Gray Maynard. One ended in a draw, and then “The Answer” finished “The Bully” in their second fight. Edgar is a tough lightweight, but was put to the test twice against the now champion Benson “Smooth” Henderson.
Henderson took everything that Edgar dished out and then some, but it wasn’t enough to stop the lightweight champ. Benson will have his biggest test to date against a very well improved Nate Diaz who earned his number one contender status by taking out some of the divisions best in Takanori Gomi, Donald Cerrone and Jim Miller. Diaz and Henderson are set to square off on December 8, 2012 for UFC on Fox 5.
These are my rankings and don’t reflect anyone else’s opinion. This is my list for the top 10 lightweights, not just for the UFC.
1. Benson Henderson- Current UFC Champ
2. Gilbert Melendez– Current Strikeforce Champ
3. Nate Diaz- Current UFC #1 contender
4. Gray Maynard
5. Michael Chandler-Current Bellator Champ
6. Anthony Pettis- Last WEC Champion Ever
7. Eddie Alvarez
8. Donald Cerrone
9. Joe Lauzon
10. Kuniyoshi Hironaka- Current Shooto World Welterweight Champ
I will be publishing my rankings for featherweight, bantamweight and flyweight this week so be on the look out! Certain fighters like Frankie Edgar and Clay Guida were left off my list today even though they have both moved divisions, but have yet to fight at featherweight yet. Expect to see them on my ranking for 145 lbs tomorrow.