In MMA’s Lightweight division, it’s crowded at the top. There is a wealth of talent. All have legitimate credentials and are patiently waiting the outcome of the upcoming title bout between Ben Henderson and former champion, Frankie Edgar.
Below that lies a talented crop of contenders. One loss may take you from top five in the division to outside of the top 10 completely.
1. Ben Henderson (UFC, 15-2)- Henderson is the champion. He controlled Frankie Edgar for five rounds and earned his title. It was a thrilling main event at UFC 144. Let’s see what happens at UFC 150.
2. Frankie Edgar (UFC, 14-2-1)- Edgar has the most heart in the UFC. He’s come back from certain defeat twice against Grey Maynard, once garnering a draw and once winning. Both Maynard and Henderson pounded Edgar enough to finish most competitors.
3. Gray Maynard (UFC, 11-1-1)- The Bully just defeated Clay Guida. He’s a perennial top five lightweight. If Henderson defeats Edgar at UFC 150 and Maynard defeats another top competitor, you could see him in another title match.
4. Nate Diaz (UFC, 16-7)- Nate Diaz just finished Jim Miller, something no one had done before. He’s next in line for a title shot. Diaz is the clear number one contender. Will he wait for Henderson-Edgar to work itself out or will he take another fight?
5. Gilbert Melendez (Strikeforce, 21-2)- Melendez is the Strikeforce Champion. One day he will fight inside of the Octagon and we will be able to compare him to the best fighters in the world consistently.
6. Anthony Pettis (UFC, 15-2)- Anthony Pettis may be more flash than substance, however the flashes are utter brilliance. Pettis took care of Joe Lauzon quickly. He’s a contender. Let’s see what he does next.
7. Jim Miller (UFC, 21-4)- Miller hadn’t lost in two years before being out classed by Nate Diaz. That doesn’t mean that Miller isn’t a top 10 fighter.
8. Clay Guida (UFC, 29-13)- The Carpenter has hovered around greatness, though never quite attaining it, his entire career. After losing two straight fights to top five fighters, let’s see what he does in his next fight.
9. Michael Chandler (Bellator, 9-0)- Michael Chandler just defeated Eddie Alvarez, in what many consider a fight of the year candidate. That deserves mention.
10. Donald Cerrone (UFC, 18-4)-Cowboy lost an emotional battle to Diaz at UFC 141. He got back on track by defeating Jeremy Stephens.
Special mention: Eddie Alvarez, Pat Healy