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Strikeforce Results: Gilbert Melendez and the Top 10 Lightweights in MMA

Tim McTiernanCorrespondent IJune 27, 2016

Strikeforce Results: Gilbert Melendez and the Top 10 Lightweights in MMA

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    On Saturday night Gilbert Melendez and Josh Thomson fought to a five-round decision in a back-and-forth battle that could have gone either way.

    In the end, Gilbert Melendez pulled out the split-decision victory and won the trilogy with Josh Thomson, taking the final two bouts of it.

    Melendez is without a doubt one of the top lightweights in the world, but how high up the rankings is he exactly?

    Read on to find out.

No. 10: Joe Lauzon

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    Kicking off our list is Joe Lauzon, who is 2-1 in his last three fights in the Octagon.

    Lauzon earned submission victories over Melvin Guillard and Curt Warburton, and was most recently knocked out by Anthony Pettis at UFC 144.

    His next fight will be against Terry Etim at UFC on Fox 4.

No. 9: Donald Cerrone

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    Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone is next up on the list, and had arguably the most impressive performance of his career in his last fight, as he earned a unanimous decision victory over Jeremy Stephens.

    Cerrone was in absolutely no trouble during the fight and erased doubts in anyone's mind of becoming "gun shy" after his loss to Nate Diaz.

    Cerrone is looking to fight at UFC 150; an opponent has yet to be named.

No. 8: Anthony Pettis

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    Anthony Pettis is the former and final WEC lightweight champion, and one of the brightest young fighters in the UFC today.

    Pettis is 2-1 in his UFC career, losing a decision to Clay Guida in his first fight, earning a split decision over Jeremy Stephens in his second and knocking out Joe Lauzon with a highlight reel head kick in his third.

    He is now being rumored for a fight against Donald Cerrone.

No. 7: Jim Miller

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    Jim Miller is one of the most exciting fighters in the lightweight division but, as of late, he may be becoming nothing more than a gatekeeper.

    He has four losses in his career, and those four have come to Benson Henderson, Frankie Edgar, Gray Maynard and now Nate Diaz.

    Those are four of the top lightweights in the world, and he couldn't hang with them.

    He may have to change some things up if he wants to get back to the top of the division.

No. 6: Clay Guida

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    Clay Guida is the former Strikeforce lightweight champion and one of the top lightweights in the UFC today.

    Guida is known for his aggressive pace and his granite chin.

    In his last fight, he lost a unanimous decision to now-champion Benson Henderson. He will return at UFC on FX 4 and face Gray Maynard in the main event.

No. 5: Gilbert Melendez

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    Gilbert Melendez proved that he belongs in the top five of the division on Saturday night, earning a decision over Josh Thomson.

    Unfortunately for Melendez, he is stuck in a lose-lose situation, as even when he wins it's not over top opponents, which hurts his status in the lightweight division.

    Should he come to the UFC, he'll get a chance to prove his worth in the division—but until then, he's stuck at No. 5.

No. 4: Nate Diaz

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    Nate Diaz could be the next big thing in the lightweight division.

    Since his return to the division from a brief stint at welterweight, Diaz has looked absolutely unstoppable. He submitted Takanori Gomi at UFC 135, beat down Donald Cerrone at UFC 141 and submitted Jim Miller in the main event of UFC on Fox 3.

    After his last win he earned a shot at the lightweight title, and he is presumably next in line after Frankie Edgar.

No. 3: Gray Maynard

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    Gray Maynard was this close to becoming the UFC lightweight champion but, alas, it was not meant to be.

    Maynard fought for the title twice—at UFC 125 and UFC 136—where he drew with, and was knocked out by, the champion.

    In an attempt to get back to the top of the division, he'll face off against Clay Guida in the main event of UFC on FX 4.

No. 2: Frankie Edgar

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    Frankie Edgar is the former UFC lightweight champion and has a record of 14-2-1, with his only losses coming to Gray Maynard and Benson Henderson.

    Edgar won the title at UFC 112 from B.J. Penn, defended it against Penn at UFC 118, drew with Gray Maynard at UFC 125 and knocked out Gray Maynard at UFC 136.

    UFC 150 will mark his third straight rematch, as he attempts to reclaim his lightweight title.

No. 1: Benson Henderson

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    Benson Henderson is the current UFC lightweight champion and is undefeated in the Octagon, with four unanimous decision victories over Mark Bocek, Jim Miller, Clay Guida and Frankie Edgar.

    He won the title from Edgar at UFC 144, and will have a rematch against Edgar at UFC 150 in Denver, Colorado.

     

    Tim McTiernan is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. For the latest news on everything MMA, follow him on twitter @TimMcTiernan.

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