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Rich Hansen's Take
HANSEN: Transparency in MMA Rankings - My Top 25 in the Lightweight Division
Jun 7, 2011 - 5:00:54 PM
HANSEN: Transparency in MMA Rankings - My Top 25 in the Lightweight Division
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By: Rich Hansen, MMATorch Columnist

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Everybody loves rankings. Well, everybody loves their own rankings, and loves dumping on rankings from everybody else, especially on the internet. Sensing an opportunity to catch flack from the entire internet, I'm going to start publishing my own rankings. Every week I'll rank one division, from 1-25.

About My Methodology:

My rankings are 100% subjective, with personal biases fully included. I'll consider all objective and tangible evidence, but at the end of the day, I'll use my gut and my heart just as much as my brain. And yes, easy cheap shots about my brain are welcome below.

That said, I do have some firm guidelines. If a fighter hasn't fought in the last 10 months, and doesn't have a fight scheduled, I'm not ranking him. Also, if a fighter is under suspension by a commission (or if he consistently lies to commissions and isn't technically suspended but is unlicensed, he's not getting ranked. Heartbreaking, I know). Also, if I've never seen a fighter fight, I'm not ranking him. Sorry, Jadamba Narantungalag.

Scheduling:

I'm going to try to pick which division to rank in a given week based on how busy, or stagnant, that division is. Meaning, it doesn't make much sense to rank the Heavyweight division right now because in the next two weeks we're going to see fights involving Junior dos Santos, Shane Carwin, Alistair Overeem, Fabricio Werdum, Josh Barnett, Brett Rogers, and several more.

I'm starting off this series with the lightweight division. The LW division is about to hit a lull coming off of Clay Guida's victory over Anthony Pettis on Saturday night. This seems like a good time to take a step back and take stock.

Here's the schedule for when I'll be covering each division, along with a note or two.

June 7: Lightweights - no big LW fights on the horizon
June 14: Featherweights - Ken Florian debuts at FW on June 11
June 21: Heavyweights - Immediately after several huge HW fights
June 28: Welterweights - Nate Marquardt debuts at WW on June 26
July 5: Bantamweights - Immediately after UFC BW title fight
July 12: Light Heavyweights
July 19: Middleweights

Lightweight Rankings as of June 7, 2011

- note, Kenny Florian would rank #5 on my list, but since he's heading to FW this weekend, I'm considering him a featherweight, and will rank him as such in the featherweight rankings.

1.) Frankie Edgar - I know he lost to Gray Maynard, but that loss was three years ago. He also beat B.J. Penn twice in a row. Let that soak in. Next fight: versus Gray Maynard, TBA

2.) Gray Maynard - Flip a coin between Maynard and Melendez. Beating Edgar, even three years ago, is enough to place him second. Next fight: versus Frankie Edgar, TBA

3.) Gilbert Melendez - I believe he, Edgar, and Maynard are no more than a whisker apart. Edge goes to the UFC fighters, sorry. Next fight: vs. Jorge Masvidal or K.J. Noons, TBA

4.) Shinya Aoki - Huge drop off from three to four. Aoki might not be able to beat half of the next ten guys on this list, but he has a resume that easily surpasses all of them. Next fight: TBA

5.) Jim Miller - Missing a signature victory, but credit for never losing, other than to numbers one and two on this list. And those losses were in 2006 and 2009. Could jump Aoki with win over Ben Henderson in August. Next fight: versus Ben Henderson, August 14

6.) Clay Guida - Some people love him, some people hate him. Can't deny the results. He wins fights, period. He's been reborn under the tutelage of Greg Jackson. Could even be next in line for a title shot after Maynard if Jim Miller loses in August. Next fight: TBA

7.) Eddie Alvarez - Cautionary tale for all fighters debating whether to sign with Zuffa or with Bellator. Once top three, but hasn't fought a top opponent in years. Next fight: versus Michael Chandler, TBA

8.) Melvin Guillard - Another fighter who has seen a career renaissance training with Greg Jackson. Best athlete in the division, and probably the hardest puncher as well. Personally, I would love to see him fight Dennis Siver again. Next fight: versus Shane Roller, July 2

9.) Dennis Siver - Shocked the world, or at least the southern hemisphere, when he defeated George Sotiropoulos in February by showing takedown defense for the first time ever. Don't know if he's really this good or not. Ranking him this high could be a mistake. Next fight: versus Matt Wiman, July 2

10.) Sean Sherk - Controversial victory over Evan Dunham looks less impressive by the day. Dunham might not be as good as we thought, and Sherk (who hasn't fought in nine months), has no fight set. Next fight: TBA

11.) George Sotiropoulos - Eight-fight win streak snapped on home turf by Dennis Siver back in February. His best win is over Joe Lauzon, so is he really this good? Time isn't on his side. Next fight: versus Rafael dos Anjos, July 2

12.) Tatsuya Kawajiri - The Crusher has been crushed by Aoki and Melendez within the last year. Will continue to drop unless he fights more in the States. And wins. Next fight: versus Willamy Friere, July 16

13.) Anthony Pettis - The hottest prospect in the world one week ago was knocked down a peg by Clay Guida last week. Too much too soon? Sure. But he'll rebound. Too smart and too athletic not to. Next fight: TBA

14.) Jeremy Stephens - Has been destroying opponents while winning four of his last five fights. Has scary power, and developing ground skills. More experience than most guys his age. How did his fight with Guillard suck so hard? Next fight: TBA

15.) Ben Henderson - Most intriguing fighter in the middle of this list, by far. Opened some eyes (especially mine) with the way he handled Mark Bocek. Has all the tools, other than KO power. Looks to play spoiler in August. Next fight: versus Jim Miller, August 14

16.) Gleison Tibau - Has more UFC fights than anybody since 2007. Seems like he always wins when booked to a prelim fight, and always loses when on TV. I suppose that says all you need to know. Next fight: TBA

17.) Jorge Masvidal - Not getting knocked out by the much larger Paul Daley last year opened my eyes. Looked fantastic against Billy Evangelista in March. I might be a little high on him, but I think he's a tough out for K.J. Noons on June 18. Next fight: versus K.J. Noons, June 18

18.) Donald Cerrone - Another Jackson lightweight who took a major step up recently. For Cerrone, it was when he stuffed Jamie Varner with his own wrestling game at WEC 51. Looking for his second UFC win on June 11. He's being spoon fed opponents; clearly the UFC thinks he's a star in the making. Next fight: versus Vagner Rocha, June 11

19.) Nik Lentz - Everybody's least favorite lightweight, and that includes Dana White, because of his dreadful victory over Andre Winner last year. The guy hasn't lost a fight in four years, and could become very relevant if he can add something to his top game. Next fight: versus Charles Oliveira, June 26

20.) K.J. Noons - Best hair in the division, and maybe the best boxing as well. A win over Jorge Masvidal will propel him to a shot at Gilbert Melendez' belt. Next fight: versus Jorge Masvidal, June 18

21.) Joe Lauzon - Wasn't surprising that he lost to George Sotiropoulos, but the way that he was dominated left a lot of questions. Fortunately he'll be able to start answering them in a couple weeks time. Next fight: versus Curt Warburton, June 26

22.) Matt Wiman - Holds wins over Omigawa, Danzig, and Cole Miller. Getting his first chance at the big time against Dennis Siver next month. Is one of several Ultimate Fighter lightweight contestants who are starting to realize their potential. Next fight: versus Dennis Siver, July 2

23.) Cole Miller - Gets overlooked because he doesn't look like a fighter, but he's got a wicked ground game, just ask Jorge Gurgel, Junie Browning, Dan Lauzon, and Ross Pearson. Inconsistent, every time he builds momentum he loses an upset. Next fight is most important of his career. Next fight: versus T.J. O'Brien, August 14

24.) Ross Pearson - Victory over Dennis Siver looks even better in retrospect. Loss to Cole Miller killed and buried any momentum the Siver win should have given him. No easy fights for Pearson, as he's fighting Edson Barboza, in Rio, next. Hard to figure out what the UFC thinks of Pearson based on the fights he's been given. Next fight: versus Edson Barboza, August 27

25.) Edson Barboza - UFC debut vs. Mike Lullo was a thing of beauty, if you like seeing someone's soul destroyed by leg kicks, that is. A pure striker, his fight against Anthony Njokuani was thrilling to watch. His next fight with Ross Pearson is on my short list of must see fights. Next fight: versus Ross Pearson, August 27


DON'T GO YET... WE SUGGEST THESE MMATORCH ARTICLES, TOO!
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